By Alan Zorfas
In the latest marketoon in our series, we must say congratulations to our hero, the marketer, who has applied an objective methodology to make her “recommendation” to her boss. Her honesty is refreshing, isn’t it?
Approving major campaign investments is nerve-racking enough! At least our fearless marketer has supplemented her “gut” with the ever-reliable “EenieMeenieMineyMo” method. Using that method, even “chance” doesn’t look so bad!
The decision maker here also deserves some of our sympathy. He could be a CMO or an executive outside the marketing department. He sits there, at the end of a long planning process, probably sweating bullets, about to give “C” his blessing. What’s he thinking?
“How do we really know ‘C’ is the smartest thing we can do? Was there a D, E or F? The team and agency worked so hard, how can I say ‘no’ now? I guess this is the campaign development process…I’ll look foolish if I reject their recommendation. But, once ‘C’ starts running, everyone will blame me! What if it bombs?”
The real question here is: What’s missing from the equation that we really have to think hard about? As most marketers can attest to, campaign, positioning and messaging development all rely heavily on “process.” While process is important, how much does our reliance on it compensate for a void of objective intelligence? If we had, on hand, objective intelligence on how consumers connect to our brand, and which of those connections matter most in driving action, then we could better frame and justify our decisions. Instead, we turn to our basket of tricks to help us narrow in on “the winner.” They range from simple, down-and-dirty one-off quant studies (sometimes also referred to as “CYAs”) to sophisticated copy testing for recall, persuasion and other key measures like “I got the main message.”
Unavoidably, “processes” are infused with subjectivity. Campaigns are largely influenced by opinions and views, willingly or not. And, within any team dynamic, some folks’ opinions always count more. But, ultimately, the questions we ask and the hidden biases we share on day one shape the trajectory of the entire project.
I am a huge proponent of process and the human contribution it demands. But what the marketer and her management counterpart deserve is a framework of objective intelligence on what’s motivating consumers of their brand to choose, use and advocate. When marketers have intelligence available on the front- and back-end of our processes, we can feel a whole lot better about our decisions and move beyond handy methods like “EenieMeenieMineyMo.”