Thursday, November 11, 2004

Sounding Off

I've had the week from hell and it's all do with our Marketing department that have decided they make every decision to do with our website even though they are all self-confessed beginners when it comes to the subject.

It started with a review of some new images for our pages. We had Pipsqueak from the Marketing department on the call along with myself and someone who works from me. Myself and my team member where on the same page and actually loved one of the images the agency presented. Pipsqueak seemed to like it as well so we asked that they create those for us. They sent over meeting minutes confirming they would do that and some revised copy.

Pipsqueak asked for my opinion. So I gave it to her...via email....which I didn't copy anyone else on (buy have a copy'll see why later). She sent it to the Agency. They had some thoughts which they sent back. Pipsqueak asked me for my thoughts...I responded, again only to her. She passed them onto the Agency. They added the copy to the graphics and passed the graphics to us. We added them into QA and passed the link to Pipsqueak to review. They went live today.

I also had a discussion this week with Pipsqueak and her boss about some usability testing that we want to do. We had a product launch at the end of September and my boss suggested we get some customers in to get feedback as there was a lot of angst about the creatives, copy etc. We discussed the proposal provided by the Agency and agreed it was too costly and we would see other quotes.

Today we had our weekly status call with the Agency to go over the results etc. On the call it turned out that Pipsqueak had reviewed the terms for some search engine marketing. She admitted that she had finished her review but that she had never done this before and didn't know what she was doing so I asked to see a copy. She sent them over. There were some very strange terms in there so I went to, played around a bit and sent back some screenshots with a couple of suggestions...basically some of her terms came up as no hits so I suggested that maybe we ask the Agency about why we had them in there.

About 30 minutes later my team member called me from her cell phone to say Pipsqueak had just yelled at her so she'd had to leave. Apparently:

(1) Pipsqueak never liked the graphics we chose for the site....although she'd had nearly a week to say something and never did. If you didn't like them, why say you did? For info, I checked out the hits they generated (only a day's worth) and they're doing pretty well.....that says something to me!

(2) I rewrote all the copy for the images....yes, I did but Pipsqueak chose to pass them on when she could have said she didn't like it. I also think going out with something that says we offer "Personal Services" is really not a good idea for the line of business we're in....Pipsqueak hadn't spotted that but laughed when I pointed it out and agree that needed to be changed.

(3) Marketing aren't going to pay for the usability testing as the reasons we don't like the pages is that our website sucks and that the templates are crap. Errr...since when does a big blank space = a crap template? They had a whole page (excluding navigation) to do with as they wanted. They could have done an infinitely better job than they did....and yet Marketing loved those you're saying you like crap??

(4) Why should she be reviewing search engine stuff when it's not her job. Oh...follow the logic get the things to review, it's not your job yet you spend however long reviewing them and signing off. When I suggest some changes you don't want to know? When I point out spelling mistakes and wrong trademark usage, you don't care? I'm sorry, I thought Marketing was meant to be on top of things like that. If it's not your job you should butt out and let us do it from the start. By choosing to take responsibility for reviewing it, you imply it is your job. So then you should see it through and not just dump it on us when you get bored. If you want us to put out stuff that's wrong then don't come to me when Legal complain and ask us to change it.

(5) Apparently in three months time it'll all be different. That's because we're being restructured and she thinks it'll all be hers to do with as she will. I'm hoping she meant that she wouldn't be around in three months. LOL

I can't wait to see where this is going to end up. I was the bad person for the product launch because I didn't jump up and down with excitement when the Agency gave us the first set of rubbish. And now, when I'm trying to help you, I just get stabbed in the back?

So after that I spoke with the guy from the company that buys our media. He told me he hates the creative as well. He also told me that I'm quite right to ask why the ads aren't performing as well as they should but feels that his hands are tied because of the creative. Marketing won't question it so we get stuck in a downward spiral. And then the creative director won't optimise the ads but expects him to do it....for ****s sake...he buys's not his job. He suggested some things on the call and clearly she ignored him. And yet, we chat offline about things and he has some great ideas. I asked why he wouldn't speak up and got the impression he's tired of being knocked down. So maybe I'll raise some of his ideas and see what happens.

He also told me...and probably shouldn't have....that he doesn't like the way our account manager treats's not like she should treat clients. She talks over people, is condescending and demands things from us when she should ask. There was definitely a tense few minutes on the status call when she started demanding things from was clear that he wasn't happy (and I wouldn't have been either).

We were on the phone for the best part of an hour and I had to tell him that he was about the only person over there I liked. The reason? Because I can have a sensible conversation with him without feeling like I'm the devil. Is it so wrong to want things to good and not settle for stuff that clearly doesn't do the job? I was wondering if part of the reason we get on so well is that he's male (terrible thing to say but true) and Australian. He's also in that 20-something age range!!! For the record, he lives with his girlfriend and we have never actually met face-to-face. Amazing how I managed to develop such a good relationship with someone I've never met yet can't cope with the loud-mouthed, blonde account manager that I've sat in the same room with.....

It sucks because we have a global contract with one of the largest firms in the world so our hands are pretty tied. Marketing basically told us that what the Agency says goes and yet they put junior people on our account and deliver stuff that a three year old could color in.

I am so totally tired of this. I have no enthusiasm for working with people that behave like this. They lie outright in meetings even when I have emails from them saying stuff to the contrary. I've now taken to keeping copies of every email exchange I have with them. I've talked to my boss about it and he's tried to talk to the person that runs that team...unfortunately he ended up in an argument as well and came to the conclusion that they just don't get it. Welcome to my world!!!

Now it seems that it's trickling downhill so I'm at a loss as to what to do. They hate us all but what really gets me is that they keep trying to blame us for everything when all we're trying to do is to get them to ask the Agency the right questions and challenge some of the stuff so that we can have a better offer. Their response....we're paying them a lot of money. that makes them experts? Here's another example - they send over a PDF for us to post to your site. I open it...the pages are in the wrong order, they're differently sized and there's no contact info. They send over a revised version. It has spelling mistakes and wrong branding in it. I asked for another copy. If Marketing had had their way, the first one would have been posted.

I did have to laugh earlier though. There were some ads due to go live that point directly to the PDF. I checked our download volumes earlier....none. So we assumed the ads weren't live. I raised it on the call....when do these hit the sites...oh, they're out there. Really? We're not getting any hits.....guess they're not working very well then!!!

Marketing just don't seem to realise that our in-house combined experience is far greater (and cheaper) so they need to let us get on with things. If I hear one more time from them that "they want our opinion" (just so they can ignore it), I will scream.

Anyway, my boss is down there this week and I have a call with him in the morning so maybe I'll just highlight the latest crap and see if he has any bright ideas. In the meantime, it's doing no good for my nicotine intake or my back pain....or my sleep patterns. :-(


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