'If You Can Make It Successful on Paper, You've Really Gotta Be Good'
My move to the Silicon Valley three years ago was an eye-opener, when I realized that it was almost impossible to hire a creative for my studio for any amount of money. It seems the dot-coms were grossly overpaying creatives and treating them not only as the creatives of their sites, but the creators of their content and also as their marketers.
Many of these creatives were barely out of the trade school where they learned HTML and GoLive, and they were making $100 an hour and were in charge of developing sites, designing and writing for them. No wonder these sites failed. Their employers had no real, viable business plan. They thought that being "present" on the Web was good enough -- "Build it and they will come." Just visit their sites and think about it while you're waiting 10 minutes for the pages to load. I don't think so!
It's hard to be sympathetic to their plight.
The great thing about catalog sites that Bill mentions is that they had to figure it out on paper from the start -- the marketing and mailing plans, the lists and database, the merchandising, their brand, the creative, the fulfillment, etc. If you can make it successful on paper, you've really gotta be good.
I had to laugh at the reference to Ashford discovering that repeat orders are higher than initial orders. Big discovery! Hell, Bill could have told them that, and how to get there, before they spent a dime.
Now that many of these big-shot creatives are out job hunting, I'm again seeing their mediocre portfolios and listening to their attitudes -- and I wouldn't WANT to hire them. Many of these folks don't want to "dirty their hands" with direct marketing, printed work and catalog work anyway!
So while I keep as busy as ever, they are still looking for another employer who will fall for their drivel. I'm sticking to the concept that creative is just one of the tools of good marketing, and I will continue to prioritize and sell a great product or package of products. And unlike the teams that developed the failed dot-coms, we'll help them be successful on the Web instead of just "being there."
Carol Worthington Levy, Creative director, Worthington Levy Creative, San Jose, CA