“Marketing effectiveness” sounds like a webinar that someone once forced you to attend, or worse, a graduate seminar on the way to a Master in Business Administration. Perhaps, the term would benefit from a rebrand, because it’s not a seminar or webinar. Marketing effectiveness is the difference between failure and success.
There are people who are doing work that’s very important now that has shown us how advertising really works and what the important aspects are. The people like Byron Sharp and Jenni Romaniuk and Karen Nelson-Field and Peter Field and Les Binet.
I guarantee you, if I walked into an advertising agency in the US here and I mentioned those names, 90% of the people would never have heard of them. They wouldn’t know who I was talking about and these are the people who are telling us how it works and nobody’s listening.
He is correct, we’re not good students of our industry. I have heard Mr. Sharp’s name before, but the others are a mystery to me. Or they were. Feeling challenged by Hoffman to know more, I looked them up. They’re academics in England and Australia, which goes a long way towards explaining their relative obscurity in US advertising circles. Unlike, law or medicine, ad people are not highly educated in the field. Instead, most of us simply find our way and learn on the job.
Complicating matters, there’s also no compelling or universal call to learn the things that matter. I believe people are willing to learn the mechanics (on the job or in school) but theory is a tougher sell.
Les Binet on the Importance of Building Brands
Les Binet is Group Head of Effectiveness at adam&eveDDB is an academic working for an agency. This makes his thinking all the more approachable and important. Learning from practitioners is how we’ve always done it, and there’s a good reason for this. With millions of our clients’ dollars on the line every day, what we do is far from an academic exercise.
I am encouraged to learn that Binet is a strong advocate for building brands—not something that’s always associated with marketing effectiveness. Here’s a tiny slice of what he has to say on the topic:
Brand building is the main thing that drives a company’s revenue stream – its cash flow, its profits. Brand building can also reduce price sensitivity, so it can increase margins. Brand building produces a long-term preference for your brands and products. It produces a much stronger long-term sales stream, much fatter margins, more revenue, more free-cash-flow in the long term and, therefore, more profit and shareholder value.
Activation then increases the efficiency with which you convert that brand equity into short-term sales. And conversely, brand building makes activation more efficient. You’ll find that if you do strong brand building, short-term metrics will go up for your activation. Ultimately, the reason that companies need to do brand building is that they make more money in the long-term and the short-term.
Amen to that. We build brands to make our clients famous and rich, in that order. We do not build brands for any other reason.
It’s Okay to Use “Marketing Effectiveness” and “Building Brands” in the Same Sentence
Binet’s pro-brand building stance echoes what other smart people are working to achieve.
In July, Dan Goldgeier and I chatted with Maggie Windsor Gross for an episode of Ad Chatter. “Brand is one of the most efficient drivers of enterprise growth,” she said. “Brand impacts the decisions of not just your consumers, but your employees, partners, and even investors. What we’ve seen with BrandWorth is that brand is more correlated with your revenue return than things like awareness, positive impressions, or even your Net Promoter Score.”
At a time when many people in marketing have latched onto so-called “performance marketing” as a way to boost quarterly revenue and keep their jobs, it’s nice to see a rising counter-balance to the bean-counting, shiny object-obsessed, jargon-filled gibberish that passes for industry thought leadership today.
Companies need to do brand building to make more money in the long term and the short term. This is reality. When we all believe this again and we all share this and practice this, the industry will move forward again. Far too many ad people have suffered in a stunned and stymied state since the dawn of The Internet. It’s time to end that pain and get back to the core of what we do and why we do it.