Source: Pete Souza via Wikimedia Commons (https://tinyurl.com/y8k7edmj).
Everyone's looking for some R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
Consumers are no exception.
And if we marketers and marketing communication practitioners are as smart as we believe we are, it's plain to see that the world is quickly 'runnin' out of "fools"'.
Not least because of the spanner that the Web and the "disruptions" surrounding the tech-savvy, seemingly self-absorbed Generation Y (a.k.a. 'millennials') have thrown in the works.
Fortified by social media and instant messaging services, word of mouth can now travel faster and farther than ever before.
This democratisation of communication and information sharing has suddenly turned the spotlight back on marketing & advertising accountability.
Geographic markets—until recently virtual provincial fiefdoms of brands—no longer insulate marketers from the blowback from a brand's real or perceived shortcoming. A wound to a brand's image in one market can today haemorrhage market share virtually overnight in a market halfway around the world.
Governmental censure & fines, anti-consumption campaigns, loss of face, and the inevitable layoffs can be compounded by a drastic—sometimes fatal—reduction in brand equity.
Only the most foolhardy & callous marketers and their marketing communication agencies can now afford to take consumers, marketing & advertising campaigns, and the firefighting following a crisis for granted.
A useful rule of thumb in these turbulent times can be one that's reflected across cultures, but is easier said than done:
"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
Source: Mathyas Kurmann (https://tinyurl.com/ycyepr8g) on Unsplash (https://tinyurl.com/y7j8ct7l).
There is nothing new under the sun, at least not in the world of marketing communication.
The digital marcom folks are rediscovering what "Old School" direct marketing practitioners and the businesses that depend on it knew all along:
Marcom that's worth its salt is intrinsically accountable.
Whether the purpose is branding, education, credibility-building and/or sales, marcom effectiveness can be greatly improved if it is evaluated against an objective ROI benchmark.
It doesn't hurt if everyone's in agreement that marcom's about what your prospect wants it to be. Nothing more. Nothing less.
For starters, we must stop assuming that the noise in our head is the same as the noise in our prospect's head (Seth Godin).
The prospect couldn't care less about our attempts to separate them from their money and/or time.
To paraphrase the legendary copywriter Eugene Schwartz, a marcom plan should be based on insights regarding:
A prospect who's already sold on the idea of buying your product/service (or one just like yours) will demand a different marcom approach than a prospect who is unfamiliar with you and even your product/service category.
If your brand falls somewhere in between these two market limits, your strategy has to take this fact on board.
All marcom for a product/service category can be said to have a verbal & visual vocabulary.
It pays to, therefore, take stock of the current as well as the most recent marcom that corresponds to the product/service category that your brand is competing in.
What is the competition saying and how are they saying it? What strategy, if any, and tactics are they using?
A fundamental objective of a marcom plan should be to counter competing approaches, arguments and the tactics used. Not follow suit.
Of course, the value you allot to such insights depends on how important marcom is in your marketing mix.
There may be nothing new under the sun. But if your prospects believe this to be also true of your marcom, then it has clearly ignored one important fact:
'. . . the people you address are selfish, as we all are. They care nothing about your interests or profit. They seek service for themselves. Ignoring this fact is a common mistake and a costly mistake in advertising.' (Claude Hopkins)
Source: GIPHY (https://media.giphy.com/media/HoyhrME6MXm5a/source.gif)
I froze after reading something someone had written in an opinion piece.
According to the author, the most credible way to evaluate advertising is to use the award winners as the models.
This observation reminded me of Professor Marilyn Strathern's pithy restatement of Goodhart's Law: "When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure." (I was introduced to the law in Mr. Dave Trott's article, The Dog's Bollocks.)
If awards become the be-all and end-all of advertising, wouldn't such a state of affairs be like the tail wagging the dog?
Effectiveness—and the awards that spotlight it (e.g. the Effies)—should be the focus of our industry.
A subjective evaluation can only result in no-brain advertising (Rapp and Collins), plus make matters worse for the consumers, advertising industry, and marketers.
Advertising that does nothing for the prospect is quickly forgotten, having merely served to add to the clutter.
The human being your advertising is aimed at is the alter ego of the not-in-market individual. The two neither think alike nor share the same emotional profile.
They can't be appealed to and persuaded in the same way. And they most certainly do not judge advertising like the people who create & approve it.
Seen in this light, the importance of understanding what happens after the advertising steps out into the real world can't be emphasised enough.
Out here, advertising competes not only with other advertising but also a cultural Zeitgeist saturated with:
How will your advertising fare in this melee?
The pursuit of the bright shiny object—be it an award, a technology or something else—is not what advertising is about.
To paraphrase Ogilvy, the end product should be evaluated on the basis of its content, not its form.
Any attempt to sell advertising "creativity" as well as the brand paying for the advertising can only result in failure to sell neither.
And that can be a fatal mistake.
Image source: GIPHY (https://gph.is/1K3S5JV)
I hate those "public service" print ads that purport to encourage smokers to quit the habit.
The ones that simply state the obvious, but in a Goldbergian manner.
Inevitably, these arty ads feature artistic paeans to ugliness, with the exception of a morbid statistic or two.
By the way, it is a rare anti-smoking ad indeed that makes room for some sort of a call to action.
Why do such ads get created and approved in the first place?
Reason #1: The client or their business/employer pays the bills.
The people behind such ads risk nothing, except maybe their reputation for "creativity"—a misunderstood term that seduces even the most experienced of advertising practitioners to indulge in orgies of 'irrelevant creative brilliance' (Ogilvy).
Reason #2: Advertising illiteracy, the tyranny of technology, and plain indifference.
No wonder the gap continues to widen between the creators & approvers of much of advertising today and the individuals at the receiving end of the advertising clutter.
Smoking is a serious addiction, and comparable to or worse than the hold that some illicit drugs have.
The anti-smoking ad that genuinely cares about smokers must do something more than simply appeal to their sense of curiosity and aesthetic drive.
It must show them how they can quit the habit.
The ad can usher the smoker into the ad with the aid of, say, the Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence.
Then, instead of visual platitudes, the ad can proffer some smoking cessation methods, such as:
Proof supporting the effectiveness of the methods recommended must also be provided.
The ad can conclude with a useful call to action.
A variation can lead with a well-known individual (e.g. celebrity, royalty, music/movie star) challenging the reader to join them in quitting the habit in X weeks.
Social media, phone messaging and e-mail can be used to reinforce the association, build a community, track progress, and ensure cessation success in as many cases as possible.
Such campaigns require a lot of groundwork.
But the resulting earned media could be well worth the effort.