Advertising agencies and marketing departments alike need to break their bad habit of placing too much emphasis on proxy measurements. Just because it’s possible to measure something, it doesn’t mean that something has value and is worth measuring.
Today there’s far too much emphasis on soft measures such as ‘number of views’, ‘likes’, ‘shares’, ‘engagement’ or even (dare we say it) creative awards. One problem is that development of advertising is often skewed towards improving these short-term measures in order to show some measurable progress. However, this is often at odds with what is best for the business long-term.
Another problem is that placing emphasis on these kinds of measures breeds distrust from other parts of the client business towards marketing and advertising, because they don’t represent real proof of any commercial progress. They are false proxies that really only serve to massage the egos of those involved, not actual measurements of success or growth that the rest of the business can identify with or actually use.
“Most of a brand’s customers think and care little about the brand, but the brand manager should care about these people because they represent most of the brand’s sales.” Professor Byron Sharp, How Brands Grow (Oxford University Press).
Even this customers who repeatedly buy from your brand most likely do so out of simple habit and the product delivering on their needs. Contrary to the moonshine widely peddled by many branding and advertising “experts”, it’s not because of some strong emotional bond.
When we exaggerated the role that the brand plays in people’s lives, it leads to self-important and phoney advertising. People are smart enough to realise this and know when they’re being patronised.
“We don’t get them to try our product by convincing them to love our brand. We get them to love our brand by convincing them to try our product.” Bob Hoffman.
Advertising and marketing people need to lose the jargon. A culture of business bullshit has slowly polluted the commercial world. Engagement, low-hanging fruit, synergy, media-neutral, content-led, always-on, ideation, adcepts, holistic approach, storytelling, user-generated content, leverage, realtime 24/7, cultural currency, the list goes on (and on). This language is symptomatic of a move towards the unnecessary complication of the world of advertising and marketing.
These terms allow people to hide behind them, and mask flimsy thinking. They confuse and conceal…
Ask most marketing or advertising people if they themselves, outside of their professional life, have ever shared brand content, or used a brand hashtag, or got involved in making or editing or uploading their own experiences of a brand, or any of the other things that they often expect customers to do, the answer would be rarely, if at all. Yet they regularly expect other people to do them.
Contrary to what appears to be popular belief inside agencies and marketing departments, most people do not want to ‘join the conversation’ or take part in any interactive, two-way dialogue with brands, even in relatively high-interest categories.
Decision by committee needs to be scrapped. Group decisions are becoming more and more common in business, but when it comes to advertising, the result is often a very costly and public mess.
When the consensus of a large number of people has to be reached, the most likely outcome is predictable and safe work. “They sit there in committees day after day, and they each put in a color and it comes out grey.”
Allan Sherman, American writer and television producer.
An elaborate multivariate analysis showed:
The results provide firm support for the major hypothesis that verbal humor leads to greater compliance. Subjects who received a demand accompanied by humor made greater financial concessions than no-humor subjects… Humor was equally effective as an influence technique when used by both sexes, and when directed toward both sexes. Our compliance data provided no evidence that joking was more appropriate for males.