By Guest Contributor Dan White
Dan White, author of The Smart Marketing Book, explains how to measure the effectiveness of your communications and why it is so important to your strategy.
Measuring communications effectiveness requires the extra profit generated by the communications to be compared with the cost of delivering it. Adding up the costs is fairly straightforward but isolating the sales contribution of communications from other variables, including price promotions and competitors’ activities, can be difficult. Sophisticated modelling is needed to disentangle the effects and, for multimedia campaigns, tease out the contributions from individual channels.
Sales modelling has shown that some forms of communication, such as TV and magazine ‘brand development’ advertising, affect sales for an extended period of time, provided they are memorable. This means that focusing only on immediate sales effects would underestimate the value of the activity. In fact, the eventual gain can easily be two to five times greater than the short-term effect. For producing a quick boost in sales, promotional activity is a better bet than brand development communication, although it is unlikely to be of lasting benefit to the brand.
SHORT VS. LONG-TERM RETURN ON ADVERTISING
Quantifying the sales impact of communications accurately will not always be viable, but there are ways to check that a wave of communications is being noticed by consumers and to compare the impact with previous waves. A reliable indicator of communications effectiveness is the uplift in the number of people who remember seeing or hearing about the brand recently, measured via a survey. The boost in searches containing the brand is a good alternative in some categories. If the brand spends continuously on communications, uplifts won’t be apparent, and more sophisticated approaches such as attribution modelling are needed.
IMPACT OF CONTINUOUS ADVERTISING
In the markets with lots of activity, communications investment may be necessary just to maintain a brand’s sales. If this is the case, the communications can be considered effective if the brand can be maintained with a share of category spend similar to or lower than its share of market.
For brands that spend heavily on communications, knowing if and when to make a fundamental change to the communications can be challenging. There are benefits to maintaining a consistent style of advertising over time, which means that once an effective campaign has been developed, it’s worth sticking with it. Coca-Cola’s Christmas advertising featuring a cavalcade of trucks has been running since 1995. Familiarity builds trust and repetition helps to create strong memories, so having a common thread running through the communications increases their effectiveness. For more than 20 years, the male grooming brand Axe (Lynx in some countries) based its communications around the idea of giving ordinary young men confidence in dating, conveyed in a tongue-in-cheek style. The ‘Axe Effect’ campaign was used in many ways over the years to launch new products and fragrances, but never strayed from the winning formula.
Most campaigns, however, have a shelf life. There are three main reasons for changing a brand’s communications idea: not right for the times, ideas have dried up and brand needs to change direction.
REASONS FOR CREATING A NEW COMMUNICATIONS IDEA
NOT RIGHT FOR THE TIMES
Over the long term, a campaign may become outdated. In 2016, Axe moved away from the Axe Effect because it was felt to be inappropriate given changing attitudes to relationships and dating.
IDEAS HAVE DRIED UP
In some cases, the creative team can no longer come up with interesting ways to bring the idea alive. If so, the new communications can be given a head start if they retain strong elements from the previous campaign, such as a character, a graphical element or sonic motif, especially if they have already become strongly linked
BRAND NEEDS TO CHANGE DIRECTION
A new communications idea is also needed for repositioning a brand but, even then, existing elements could be incorporated to help people connect the new campaign with the brand – a challenge new campaigns often struggle with. In the 1960s, the Esso tiger was used to represent the potency of the brand’s petrol – they suggested putting ‘a tiger in your tank.’ But in the mid-1990s when price competitiveness became the brand’s main focus, the tiger was shown using its night vision to check competitors’ prices so that for Esso could match them every day.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
DAN WHITE is a marketing connoisseur, established thought leader and independent brand consultant. He carries a 25-year career as CMO and methodology specialist within the Insights division of Kantar. Dan is British and lives in Warwickshire, UK.
In today’s complex commercial environments, marketing has become a central aspect to every successful business. Businesses need flexible, effective means of gaining commercial traction by managing their relationships with audiences, stakeholders and competitors. They require effective marketing and branding that move beyond the standard forms of brand orientation and commercial interaction. New marketing models must think smart to create innovative strategies which have long-term sustainable economic goals.
The Smart Marketing Book is a practical, reliable and concise title that offers the core marketing principles – applicable for anyone who wishes to improve their organization’s financial and creative values. It is a straightforward guide that avoids unnecessary and time-consuming practices. An illustrative handbook that covers marketing principles and topics through visual innovation. A credible statement to all marketers trying to source the most relevant strategies from a field cursed with infinite information.
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