Five things we should be thinking about in the quest for marketing effectiveness

Effectiveness. It’s everybody’s business, but how often do we get to focus on it?

Effectiveness still seems to get left to the end of the job, when really we all know that it needs to be consideredfrom the offset and continually throughout the process.

The recent Eff Week event was one of those moments that allowed the industry to really focus on effectiveness and immerse themselves in the latest thinking, different perspectives and overall the current state of effectiveness.

For methere were five key themes that really stood out around effectiveness:

1. Never mind the outputs, what about the outcomes?

This is about not falling into the trap of focussing on self-congratulatory reporting of outputs – the views, the shares, the visits. These are important to track, and are often easier to track, but these are outputs, not the outcome of the activity. Now understandably social good campaigns, are already focused more on outcomes than outputs. Our work on Stoptober for Public Health Englanddrove the outcome of 1.5m quit attempts as a result of seeing the comms andsaw us win a gold IPA EffectivenessAward.

A rallying cry from Eff Week was that all brands needto work harder to shift the focus to outcomes. Only by focusing on outcomes are we able to ensure that marketing is aligned to business performance.

2. Speak the language of the boardroom

If we are shifting marketing to be aligned to business performance, then we need to speak the same language as the rest of the boardroom. To do this we need absolute clarity on the business purpose of marketing. And this understanding of the purpose of marketingcan’t just sit in marketing, we need a shared understanding between marketing, finance, boardroom and the agency. We need this to ensure ideas don’t get lost in translation and everyone is clear how they are driving business performance.

3. Lean in to innovation to drive business performance

This shift to business performance doesn’t mean that we need to revert to only tried and tested methods. We conversely need to lean in to innovation. Brands are managed by companies, but they are owned by consumers. There are lots of new technologies that empower people – these should be the focus. A watch out on technology is when we abdicate to it to make our decisions (we will always be better) or use it to drive short-term responses.

4. Don’t just react to the short-term. Build for the long-term

The work of Les Binet & Peter Fieldanalysing the IPA Databank has shown that there is a rise in short-termism in our industry. A rise with detrimental effects on business results. They have identified that a 60/40 brand building/ activation split is optimal. Their latest thinking previewed at Eff Week showed how this breaks down for different types of categories – the short of it is that the 60/40 split is optimum in the majority of cases. Many marketers overestimate the short-term impacts and underestimate the long-term outcomes. This is where the real value lies.

5. Shift from a reporting culture to a learning culture

A shift is happening in effectiveness culture. In the past effectiveness culture has been one of reporting, or even worse, one of justifying expenditure. Now it is moving towards a learning culture. Effectiveness no longer is the job of one person or one department – it is something we all can learn from and use to grow business performance.

Eff Week was a timely reminder that what we do is at the heart of growing brands in orderto grow businesses. If finance is a measure of past performance, then brand is a measure of future performance. Brand and communications aren’t ‘wishy washy’ or ‘grey’ areas – they exist to drive business performance. To make this work we all need to focus on the outcomes and design campaigns for long-term effects, learning and growing along the way.

Jane Asscher is chief executive and founding partner at 23red

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Jane Asscher

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