The IDM Barry Spelling Summer School

July 26, 2010 - 14 minutes read

So it seems so long ago now that I can’t really remember the application process to the IDM summer school. However, sick I do remember meeting Kate (from the IDM) on a live webchat who then promptly informed me to apply, cialis the only problem being that application deadline was the next day! I devoted the rest of the day to completing it. A month or so later on I was invited to the IDM offices in Teddington where I took part in an application day, this gave me a good understanding of what the week [if I was to get onto it] would entail. I was tested thoroughly, with a mixture of a group assignment, an interview, a numeric and a proof-reading test that were spread out throughout the day. But the nature of the day was generally quite laidback without a scared ‘top down’ feel that I’ve experienced at other assessment days, and it made me feel as though it was really something that I wanted to get involved with…

The Sunday just before my week at the IDM began with a crushing feeling, England went out of the World Cup (again!). Without taking too long to mope about the defeat I packed up my bags and headed to St. Mary’s university where I had pre-arranged to meet up with the other guys who had made it onto the IDM Barry Spelling Summer School. We’d sorted out meeting and going for a meal to get to know each other before starting our week together, and whilst I was still grieving defeat, it was already began a great experience with everyone being very similar; chatty and enthusiastic.

This first day started with a bang, going straight into an introduction from Janice Pickard and with a short break went full speed ahead into presentations, this was something that I appreciated after being to similar events where a huge amount of time was spent on prolonged introductions to the week. This way I knew it meant business, and the excitement was visibly growing amongst the new group of budding marketeers spread around the room. We began with an inspirational talk from Derek Holder, Managing Director of the IDM, on ‘The new discipline of direct and digital marketing’ which set out the complex current landscape of the marketing world and served as a great introduction and laid the foundations on which we were to build on throughout the week. Next we were briefed on the case study that we would be working on in small groups throughout the week and pitching on the last day to a number of potential future employers. This was delivered by Nina Hedman from the EHS 4D Group. After a lunch break, we then went straight into an introduction to account handling, letting us understand the career path that many of us may go into and what ‘a day in the life of an account handler’ exists of. Ally Davies and Lena Burjony from Geronimo delivered this, and it was great to learn that Lena had attended the IDM Summer School only the year before (2009) leading to her getting this job! After finishing a mentally tiring but altogether information filled first day it had been arranged for us to move on to the nearby Park Hotel to have some sociable drinks, sit down for a lovely meal and to really get to know each other better. Whilst also quizzing some of the previous years IDM Summer School leavers and the IDM themselves about whatever we wanted.

The second day started with ‘Communications in the digital world’ from Liz Baines (Account Director at TEQUILA), something which I was quite excited about as it was on digital, being a geek I felt like the nerd in the class with his hand always up! This presentation was great and afterwards, even though I had said too many times that ‘digital was my thing… I’m a geek’ to people it was great at getting everyone excited. Mentions of AR (augmented reality) and geolocation technology got everybody looking at the smartphones around the room, something I loved as a genuine contemplative look could be seen in everyone’s eyes as if to say “what could I do with this as ‘the future technology’…?” This was followed by, quite frankly, an hugely inspiring talk on ‘the client perspective’ from Martin Troughton (Marketing Director at Anglian Home Improvement) someone whom I was not familiar with but afterwards I envied in every way. The stories that he had to tell were great and the advice he gave on how to get into the industry led everyone to feel a little at ease, after the fast paced start, and also seriously start to think of what we had to offer the industry in a logical and realistic sense. As someone who had, quite literally, ‘done it all’ he explained how marketing was all about competition and that in our position it is all about being the best. He also said that the barriers of entry for starting your own agency is also a very realistic thing and, unlike every careers talk I’ve had until this point, encouraged us to move jobs, to get stuck in a rut, and to be dynamic. Tuesday afternoon we were whisked off in a [very hot] taxi to RAPP to see the agency environment first hand. This experience was great, having a variety of speakers from all aspects of the business explain what their job role really entailed and answering all of the questions we were all dying to answer. After a great afternoon session everyone was noticeably flagging even whilst trying to live ‘The Apprentice’ role that we’d joked about after really getting to know each other quite well now. This waning of the group was cured by a trolley of beer, wine and crisps that showed us another aspect to the agency environment, the “work hard and play harder” adage that we’d already heard from every speaker; they were incredibly well received too!

Wednesday began with a talk by Chris Jones and Sarah Stratford from Archibald Ingall Stretton, they spoke about how life as a Client Services Director and a Planner (respectively) was. They also talked about some of the great campaigns they had worked on, including a look at the o2 3D rugby event that ran nationwide, part of their vision to foster ‘fandom’ through their marketing activities. This gave a real perspective on how direct marketing isn’t just the mailshots that you read about in books and how integration is now a powerful and important tool. Later that day we heard from The Marketing Store, who came out in force, and spoke about the experience of their graduate training programme as well as some of the key accounts that they work on, primarily their partnership with McDonalds. The afternoon then allowed us free reign to get our teeth stuck into the brief that had been set for our pitch, this was a great experience to let our creativity and business acumen shine. After spending hours brainstorming and starting to think about Friday’s pitch, we relocated to the pub to get our ideas down and to begin actioning them.

Thursday began with a talk on ‘Data, the key to driving business performance and growth’ by Christine Andrews from the DQM Group. This allowed us to fully explore the importance of collecting customer information and its use in direct marketing, a process that has become easier through the proliferation of computer use and Internet based collection methods. Also an interesting point of this talk to me was the discussion on data governance and how this is something that will only increase in the future, with most things ‘going the German way of being opt-in rather than opt-out’. After this I was getting rather excited and had been Tweeting about how I was going to meet one of my marketing heroes Rory Sutherland, unfortunately he was unable to make it due to illness (something that he tweeted me personally apologizing for!). So we had a talk from Claire Middleton from OgilvyOne on creativity, this was a great talk that showed us some of the, arguably, ridiculous lengths direct marketing reaches for niche and hard-to-reach segments, filled with examples from BA and American Express two of Ogilvy & Mather’s major clients. After this a short time was spent recapping on the ideas thought up the night before (in the pub) regarding the pitch. Then we were bundled into a taxi (apprentice style!) and whisked off to London’s Goring Hotel where we were having a meet-and-greet session over evening drinks with some of the ‘big dogs’ and ‘fat cats’ of the direct marketing industry. Armed with a guestlist that read like a ‘who’s who’ of the top marketeers from some fantastic agencies and companies including: Archibald Ingall Stretton, Barclays, DQM Group, Geronimo, OgilvyOne Worldwide, ReynoldsBusbyLee, Royal Mail, TEQUILA, Huw Davis Partnership and Vodafone Global Enterprises; to name but a few! The excitement and nervousness amongst the group was palpable. The evening was amazing and the setting was even better, the IDM summer school attendees had built up enough confidence to speak to some fascinating and inspiring industry leaders. Personally I found myself having some great conversations with Magnus Wood (Business Director at TEQUILA), Huw Davis (MD of the Huw Davis Partnership), Chris Jones (Client Services Director at Archibald Ingall Stretton), Peter Galdies and Lisa Bentall (Directors of the DQM Group), Pauline Smith and John Deyner (Head of Communications and Marketing Manager at EDF Energy), Keith Jones (Head of Data Services at Royal Mail) and Paul O’Donnell and Sam William-Thomas (Chairman EAME and Managing Director of OgilvyOne Worldwide), in addition to Derek Holder (Managing Director of the IDM) and the other lovely people from the IDM. As well as others that I can’t even remember their names, maybe it was the wine…

IDM Summer School 2010

Friday saw some very early mornings (and all-nighters!) from some of the groups in preparation for the pitches. Whilst we were all very tense once the pitches began I can honestly say that I was utterly taken aback by the solid presentation style, deliverance and creativity of all of my IDM Summer School colleagues; and the feedback from the people who had come to see them affirmed this. At this point we had not only got ourselves engrossed in the world of direct marketing to strengthen our existing skill-sets, we had built such a rapport with one another that I was sure I now have a contact list of some 20 people who I know I’ll see a lot in the future, whether on business terms or not…