Q5: David Moffatt on “offshoring” local talent [interview]
by Carey Finn (@carey_finn) David Moffatt, former group MD of Hellocomputer (now HelloFCB+) and the founder and CEO of full-service network, Fierce [www.fierce.global], tells us about his new venture.
Note: This interview was conducted prior to the coronavirus/covid-19 pandemic being declared as such. Additional comment has been supplied, as requested.
David Moffatt: It appears that very few businesses are immune to the impact of this terrible virus. Unfortunately, the seriousness escalated while I was in America on a three-week business trip [in March 2020], which I cancelled midway due to the impending travel ban. Some meetings became phone calls. SXSW, a huge networking opportunity, was cancelled. As a result, promising opportunities have stalled. In some respects, Fierce is an optimal solution for clients abroad that have had their creative and tech teams disrupted, or are seeking marketing efficiency through analytics. We are designed to operate remotely and offer cost-efficiency — both of which are critical now. Call me an optimist, but I’m hopeful there is a silver lining to all this.
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Q5: Why Fierce? What led you to launch this network?
DM: For those that haven’t heard of the startup, Fierce provides analytics, creative and development services to the international market through facilitated “offshoring”. Fierce is conceived on a few insights.
First, almost all agencies — and this includes internationals — outsource to some degree, a reality that is accelerating in proportion to expanding complexity on the martech [marketing technology] landscape. Fierce is designed to assist both clients that have ‘in-housed’ their marketing, and agencies to solve complex issues that require specialists on a project basis, or bolster a short-term spike in capacity for deadlines or pitches.It doesn’t make financial sense for many of these companies to permanently hire specialist capabilities to address passing requirements, eg, designing and building data architecture or observational studies on the efficacy of a user interface [UI] design. One would be wise to use specialists in these instances.
Secondly, from a creative perspective, storytelling now takes place at scale as customer touchpoints proliferate. However, marketing budgets are often under pressure through stagnation or even decline. We can assist by offering much more mileage from these budgets without compromising on quality.
Q5: How is Fierce structured? Do you mainly rely on freelancers?
DM: Fierce leads a network of strategically aligned specialists in strategy, creativity and technology. Fierce operates as the client-engagement layer and conduit through which its network can be accessed. It offers a council of thought leaders that determine the optimal solution from the least number of specialists, thereby ensuring maximum efficiency. The service providers have been identified based upon their deep expertise in a particular skill set. We don’t have freelancers in the network; however, there may be instances where an independent subject authority makes sense.
Q5: Which markets will you be targeting, primarily, and how?
DM: Initially the US, followed by Europe and the UK. I travelled to the States for three weeks in March to build awareness, explore partnerships and interview staff. Ultimately, Fierce will have permanent client-service staff in key territories.
Q5: What has 2020 brought fierce so far?
DM: The initial focus [had] been on high-calibre partnership meetings. Fierce’s proposition [had] been well-received [at the point of the interview] .
Q5: What may South African companies serving foreign markets do to ensure their pricing remains competitive without causing a negative impact on global industry-pay bands?
DM: First and foremost, the skills need to be competitive. So, companies aspiring to serve international markets need to be in touch with global marketing developments and emerging media trends. In terms of pricing, it would be wise to build hourly rates that reflect the actual cost of skills, and operating from South Africa.
Carey Finn (@carey_finn) is a writer and editor with over decade and a half of industry experience, having covered everything from ethical sushi in Japan to the technicalities of roofing, agriculture, medical stuff and more. She’s also taught English and journalism, and dabbled in various other communications ventures along the way, including risk reporting. As a contributing writer to MarkLives.com, her regular column “Q5” hones in on strategic insights, analysis and data through punchy interviews with inspiring professionals in diverse fields.