Last year, I had a new client on one of my marketing courses. At the end of the second session he said to the group that I was the first marketing person that he had met who he liked and thought was useful. He went on to explain that the marketing people he had met in the past were, as he put it, “a bit airy-fairy”. He then went on to say that were they had spoken of creativity and blue sky thinking, I had talked about proven approaches and measurable returns. Were they had discussed esoteric ideas, I had talked about how to market your business in a practical way.
OK that story might seem a bit self-congratulatory but the only reason I told it is to highlight the fact that there are a number of different approaches in marketing. I have met a lot of marketing people and we are as diverse a group as you would expect to find in one industry. Marketing people have a wide range of personalities and backgrounds (my degree was in physics) and we come armed with a diverse set of approaches and tools.
My answer is the one that produces the best Return on Investment (ROI) for your business. This may be the creative advert, it may be a standard voucher, an ingenious Google Adword placement or it could be a well-written 5 page sales letter.
You won’t know the answer until you’ve trialled it and measured the response. Consultants who get you to pour the majority of your marketing money into a creative advert are, quite frankly, playing roulette with your business.
The one approach to definitely avoid is where it’s difficult to measure the return you get. You would be surprised at the number of advertising people who recommend this type of approach. Fortunately, you can make most marketing trackable (e.g. having a dedicated phone number solely for your Yellow Pages ad) and you can always ask where your customers heard about you.
I give talks throughout the year and at about half of these a marketing consultant in the audience will argue with what I am saying. I inevitably enjoy the banter that ensues and I always get more business from sessions where there had been a disagreement than those were it “went smoothly”.
Creativity is important in promotional material but it is easy to lose sight of the fact that it is not the only thing. The creativity is needed to make you stand out and get people to pay attention to your message. The message then has to be delivered so as to get the person to do something.
Remember the only reason for marketing is to win more business either from new or existing clients.
Rosser Reeves, the man who developed the USP, famously said that he would fire anyone from his marketing agency who won an award. His view was that marketing that wins awards doesn’t win customers but marketing with a strong selling message does. He, quite rightly, saw his job as winning more clients for his customers, not awards for his staff.
There is no reason why you can’t develop a creative promotional piece that also has a strong selling message but it must get the prospect to take some action and it has to be measurable.