On an expansion drive: Meenakshi Madhvani, Spatial Access
Meenakshi Madhavni, Managing Partner, Spatial Access, says people are scared to ask questions. She has the knack to explain the value of numerical data to help decipher the big zeroes that marketers add to their investments. In an interview with Adgully Madhavani talks about the art of breaking even and expansion plans for the firm. Excerpts:
Adgully: Can you point out some of the key developments of Spatial Access over the last two years?
Meenakshi Madhvani: We have seen a phenomenal change in the market in terms of the way markers look at the whole area of marketing investments. There is an increased need for accountability amongst marketers. They are closely looking at what is happening in their media unit, their BTL activities, their investments etc. And there is this understanding that at the end of the day a lot of extra value can be extracted from the entire process. Marketers are also becoming more and more conscious of the value and they are willing to move away from having a cost focus into having a value focus. Since the past seven years of our existence we have been telling our clients do not look at the cost. Cost is an uni-dimensional way of looking at things. Value derived out of the investments made should be more important.
Ag: How did you go about making clients familiar with the whole process of audit?
MM: I have always loved sharing new ideas and concepts and getting people to look at things differently. So this was personally very motivating for me. End of the day positive feedback from the people I interacted with also made all the more difference. Eventually there were clients who started seeing value in our work and ended up saving on a lot of money. Today we work with around 120 clients and 1/3rd of our clients have come in because somebody has moved from one organisation to another organisation. Moreover, gradually even agencies have taken to using the same terminology and words that we use.
Ag: How have you seen the change in mind-sets over the years?
MM: From initially being looked at as an outsider trying to intrude to now being an integral part of a marketer’s investment plans there has been a major change in mind sets. Also most of the top media agencies across the country are headed by people who are thorough professionals. They recognise the fact that they have a commitment to their clients and to that extent things have changed. So if they undertake a job they know that they have to do a good job. Hence very often it helps them to have a third party affirm that they are doing a good job. Even if the third party says that there is scope for improvement they now know that we dont have an agenda. Over the years clients have also understood that we have a very non-confrontationist stand. We are collaborators. We will collaborate with the agencies to deliver value to the clients.
Ag: Can you point out three things that you do to engage the client and the agency with yourself for a collaborative working system?
MM: The first thing that we do to put both the client and agency at ease is by being brutally honest with our clients. If we feel that the marketer is responsible for the mess he is in, we will be the first one to point that out to him. Very often marketers do not give the agencies enough time, they don’t support innovation etc.
Second thing is we are really not looking at opinions, we are looking at data driven insights. So we make sure that our approach is completely objective. And after they work with us for a while both the clients and the agencies, they understand that we are truly objective.
Thirdly we as a team enjoy our work, and that is one thing that our clients confirm everytime they see our work. I think the fundamental issue is that our clients respect us and our work. They know when you are coming from Spatial Access you are coming with objectivity, with technology, with insight and with no-agenda.
Ag: What are some of the key challenges for Spatial Access at this point in time?
MM: We have challenges that is more to do with any business and are not unique to us. We have been doubling our turn over year on year but how do we continue the growth is a challenge. The other challenge is how to re-invent ourselves. And we believe in re-inventing our processes and working style every three years.
Ag: Can you tell us a bit about the work you have undertaken in the PR front?
MM: In the PR front we have developed some phenomenal tools. We have developed a technology that allows to look at a brand vocabulary. So our tool will trace all the words across media that is attached to a brand’s value. We have spoken to a couple of PR agencies and they see the value of the tools we have developed.
Ag: Anything that you are planning for the radio industry and the digital medium?
MM: We are currently are not looking at working on radio. However we have bench marked radio rates. We are hoping that we have something available in radio very soon, because in my opinion radio has been the most under-rated medium even when it has tremendous potential. On the digital space we have our established tools that helps us audit the digital medium for our clients.
Ag: Which are some of the important growth areas for Spatial Access?
MM: Radio space is an important growth centre. That is something we will look at. Other than radio we cover all media. Even in radio we do buying audits. In essence we are covering everything. So our growth is basically going to come in from two things one is by adding newer and more clients and the other will by changing the way we do our business. Growth can come from setting out more offices and having more virtual offices. We are looking at expansions and expansion across Asia Pacific.
Ag: Any message of advice for young entrants…
MM: First of all be clear about the reasons for which you want to enter an industry. Do not be scared to work, work hard. I feel a lot of kids today want all the rights without having to take responsibilities. | By Prabha Hegde [prabha(at)adgully.com]