Video Chat: How MediaMonks is Seeing Clients Embrace More Digital Work

April 2, 2020

As Chief Growth Officer for creative digital production company MediaMonks, Joe Olsen is seeing first-hand how more customers are embracing digital ideas, and how a large majority of them are looking for short term gains vs long term wins at this point – and rightfully so.

Olsen talks about how MediaMonks is providing value by plugging into client’s immediate needs and transferring key insights to keep new business conversations going. Before COVID-19 sales conversations seemed to be perceived by clients as ‘us vs them’ whereas now it’s more so a sense of unity of “us against this pandemic.’ For both parties there’s now an unspoken wanting of keeping businesses working, keeping people employed and keeping our economy moving.

Continue reading or listen above to the 14-minute interview.

Table of Contents:

  1. How are you adapting to the new norm? (0:23)
  2. Can companies adapt to long term digital transformation? (3:03)
  3. How are you nurturing existing prospects and potential clients in your pipeline? (5:40)
  4. How are media buyers and planners reacting to this new environment? (8:48)
  5. Is now a proactive time to be approaching agencies? (10:43)
  6. How can you help your clients keep their business moving? (12:03)


Dave Currie: All right, Joe. Good afternoon mate. How are you doing?

Joe Olsen: Good, good. How are you?

Currie: I’m very well, thanks. For those who are watching, just a quick little intro to who you are and we can pick it up from that.

Olsen: Yeah. So my name is Joe Olsen and I run the growth for MediaMonks, which is a part of the S4 family.

Currie: And I think probably the question on most people’s minds is what have you guys been seeing from a client perspective, probably most directly first and then how’s the agency adapting to this new norm? Outside of the logistics challenges of course.

Olsen: Yeah. I think probably the easiest part is the agency side first. The nice thing about MediaMonks and just in general, sort of where we’ve come from is that our team is pretty familiar with working in these types of remote environments. So that’s actually been less of a transition I think for us than a lot of folks that I’ve talked to in the industry, peers and colleagues of ours.

Olsen: I think our sort of production background and where we came from is very well suited to having teams across the globe work together. And so, the way that we’re structured is set up that way as well. So, everybody’s pretty familiar with working that way. So, from an agency perspective, I think that has worked really well.

Olsen: I think I’ve been super impressed with our ability to respond to customers. So, I think it’s interesting, one of the unique things about MediaMonks and really sort of the S4 thing that we’ve put forward and how we built the whole company sort of focused on digital, is that I think we’re seeing customers embrace digital ideas more than they have before. And what I would mean by that is that I think everybody’s been making a push to go that way. And sometimes that’s risky in some instances for folks because we spend a lot of time with partners on marketing spend and innovation, trying to get them to think differently about how they’re spending and working innovation.

Currie: That’s the catalyst, right? I mean you’ve got that perfect storm to really, everyone has to look at it differently.

Olsen: Yeah. It really is. And you’ve seen Sir Martin Sorrell talk about it a little bit, but I do think it’ll be interesting when we come out of this to see an acceleration to digital because of it. Not just in the way people are working, but the way they’re responding to consumers, the way they’re changing their practices. If you think about things like offline production shoots are just impossible right now and so how do you still create experiences and do those in a way that’s digital and so it produces problems. But for companies like us that have a lot of experience on the production side of things, we’re able to get in and help companies solve those. But the point being that I think people are really moving even harder to digital and I think that from the truest sort of campaign side of our business, for lack of a better description.

Olsen: I think on the other side of our business, which is a sort of longer-term enterprise digital transformation projects is probably the best way I would summarize them, what I’ve seen is that most of those are sort of going steady as they would before. I think there’s a question mark about how long this disruption is going to last for.

Olsen: But I think it’s like, it’s short enough where it’s hard to make any real drastic changes because of it unless of course, the market is totally transforming your business, which in some instances, travel and hospitality and some other instances we’ve seen that. But in the other instances, I think it’s too short to make any rash decisions and it’s not long enough to sort of make any rash decisions or big significant changes. So, a lot of those things are continuing to sort of go ahead and we’re doing, I think what everybody else is doing, which is trying to figure out ways for our teams to continue to work and continue to march towards whatever finish line it is.

Olsen: What I’ve told our, I know from your perspective and your audience being business development folks a lot of the times, what I’ve told our team is that it’s an interesting juxtaposition where typically you’re in these rooms and you’re talking to customers and you’re selling your ideas and they want them, but there’s this us versus them mentality to it from a sales perspective, right? And in this instance, it truly is one of those scenarios where it’s all of us against this situation that’s happening and we all have this sort of base fundamental goals in mind, which is we want to keep moving, we want to keep the businesses doing business and we want to keep the people working and making the economy as a whole run.

Olsen: So, I’ve seen our team has really embraced that. We’ve been doing a lot of things internally to try to proactively reach out to customers and understand what their short-term issues are and how we can plug into those things. And that’s been super. I’ve seen our customers be super receptive to that. In fact, I’m hearing a lot of stories about customers that aren’t hearing from really anybody. It’s either gone dark or the solutions are too long term. I mean it’s funny to think Google is producing trend reports in seven days right now, which I find fascinating, right? So, it’s really hard to go into a customer and say, “Hey, you’ve got a short-term issue. Let me help you out with that. Let’s do two weeks of discovery and three weeks of planning and a month of this.” It just doesn’t work.

Currie: Completely off the table. How about you? Hours of discovery and three units of implementation. I mean, you’re a big insights guy, I know that we worked together many years. How are you taking that some of the insights that S4 and MediaMonks as a whole, and some of the things you’ve talked about to existing people maybe in the pipeline that aren’t quite customers yet, but that you’ve been sort of nurturing? There’s a lot of that sort of insight transfer that’s happening right now. Examples of that would be great too.

Olsen: We’re doing some, I’d say some really short and sweet pieces of sales content that we’re putting in front of customers to help them understand really simple constructs, like maybe now’s the time to think about going direct to consumer through retail channels. Maybe now’s the time to rethink how you’re doing some of the offline production stuff you’re doing or taking experiential offline programs and putting them online and so that we’re addressing little pieces and parts.

Olsen: I think the other thing we’re doing is we’re going out to customers and creating conversations, trying to bring them maybe one thought or one idea or something that they might respond to. And again, hoping to just open up the dialogue to have a conversation about what’s happening with their business.

Currie: Sure, I think the value’s going to start somewhere.

Olsen: The only thing you can do right now really, and I think the right thing to do is we do have a lot of consultative value to the conversation right now with a lot of these brands. And for the brands that are having those conversations inside the boardroom and not leaving the board room, it’s a lot of the same stuff. And I think we’re just trying to plug into that and say if there’s anything you’re thinking about that we can lend some value to, great. If not, and we’re bugging you because you’re in the middle of something, tell us to go away, it’s fine.

Olsen: But I think that’s kind of the approach. And then I think to the market, we produced this really awesome report and it’s all about basically rethinking what customer connection is, what is your strategy in this time period, what’s possible. And it’s all around reactivation and customer obsession and things like that. And that’s available I think out on our blog. And that’s been super valuable for customers too because it’s deeper, I’d say. It’s really a thought leadership piece, right? It’s not a sales piece. It’s a thought leadership piece. And I think again, it’s having conversations about this.

Olsen: If you think about putting yourself in their shoes, I can’t imagine being on the other side, which you and I’ve both run businesses of our own in the past and you run your own business right now, but it’s like you’re sitting there and you’re going, what am I going to do in the next six hours to have impact? And then the six hours passed and you’re going, what am I going to do in the next six hours to have impact?

Currie: You’re spot on with that Joe.

Olsen: Yeah. And it’s like if you don’t think that’s what the customers are doing right now, and you can’t relate to that, it’s really difficult to plug in, right?

Currie: It’s really interesting to see who thrives under this type of pressure and environment, or who’s just sort of going into the bunker mode of hunkering down and just hoping for the best. I’m seeing both sides of that equation. This isn’t right in your wheelhouse, but I’m just curious, have you had any interaction with the media team, the buyers, the planners on your side, and how are they reacting to this? I mean, media plans and strategies are out the window. As fast as the analysts on the stock exchange, right?

Olsen: Yeah. I just think the way you think about media and sort of what it’s doing, is driving people to do something, take some action, have an experience, whatever it is. I think those are the parts where depending on what business you’re in, just that landscape can be completely different. I mean if you’re main interaction with customers, for instance in a certain segment of a brand is in store retail endcaps or something like that, your business is totally different right now. How are you going to get the exposure to the things that you’re doing now? Now you become part of a media plan probably that you weren’t part of before.

Olsen: Well how does that fit? Maybe your media plan was set up to drive people online to do something offline and that thing is closed now. So how do you rethink the experience? But then does that change the idea behind how you’re going to run media in the first place, where you’re going to run it, how you’re going to run it, all that stuff, right? And I think it’s a really sort of complex interesting proposition that’s going on for brands because they have to rethink a lot of their engagements with consumers. And when they do that, it sort of changes the way they’re probably going to put media against it, which is going to change maybe what they’re buying, where they’re buying, what the media is, all those things.

Currie: You’re exactly right. And we’re getting a lot of questions from customers in the media properties and publishers’ space who have really unique audiences wondering do I go to an agency now? Do I hold back? In my experience, it’s like the media planners and buyers are looking for creative solutions to take to clients right now.

Currie: So, as long as you’re sort of striking that balance of not being too salesy, but saying, “Look, here’s an audience that we have, we think this could be really valuable in this specific moment for your client and what you’re trying to accomplish with whatever those KPIs might be.” Yeah. My advice is to go for it, would yours be any different?

Olsen: No, I think hustle’s always been a mentality of what MediaMonks is all about. It’s always been a mentality of sort of what I’ve been about. I know it’s a mentality of the way that you do things as well. I don’t think there’s any sort of time that has been more important right now. Like I think it’s just what I think we’re focusing on and what I’m focusing on is how many folks can I get in front of and try to understand what is critical and important to them right now that I in any way, shape or form can help with and if I can’t, then let me know when I can and I’m moving onto the next thing.

Currie: I think you’re spot on there, how can I serve, what can I do to help, help me understand how I can help and not looking to capitalize on obviously the revenue opportunity immediately. It’s sort of hit a serve and maybe if it’s a good fit, then great.

Olsen: Yeah. And I think that’s really where the consultative thing becomes, it’s super interesting because in our industry typically the sales process is grab the latest deck that we’ve sold to somebody else or grab the thing that we sell off the list of line items or menu items and go pitch it to somebody. And the reality is you just can’t do that right now. So it’s really diving into your book and saying, “I’m going to make contact with these folks and see if I can help.” And the answer is going to be anywhere from yes to please don’t bug me right now, I’m super busy with other things more important. Both of those are right answers and go to the next one.

Olsen: And I think that’s the advice I would give everybody, is it’s not time to sit back and think about really big ideas and how to change this and that because clients just aren’t thinking that way right now. It’s a scramble. And I think again the drive out of all this is keep business moving. How can we help you keep your business moving? And because keeping business moving means people are working. And when things like this happen that’s the goal, right?

Currie: Well, I think you’ve summed it up absolutely perfectly there, Joe as usual. Listen, congratulations on the continued success at MediaMonks.

Olsen: Thanks so much.

Currie: I enjoyed our conversation, I know that the audience will as well appreciate the time today.

Olsen: Yeah, you too. Thanks Dave.


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