Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Is bad communication inevitable?

I've been reflecting on a recent address by Avinash Kaushik to a Canadian Marketing Association gathering (I wasn't there, but I have read the script).  Kaushik aptly laments the state of web-based marketing, calling it "faith-based" since it often lacks clear success measures.  Kaushik concludes, "So in a channel that is so full of promise, so full of data, so empowering when it comes to relevance and creativity… why is it that we suck so much?"

So much of marketing has been this way over the course of time.  Why is that?

I recall a conversation I once had with Horace Newcomb. He was the chair of the Radio-TV-Film Department at the University of Texas College of Communication when I was a grad student there.  Newcomb's focus was television criticism and his classes always examined the "texts" that could be deciphered from television programming.  I was admittedly idealistic about all of this.  As we sat in  his office one day, I asked him if he really could find value in everything he encountered on TV. A Southern Baptist, Newcomb laughed and said, "Not value. Just meaning. The fact is, most of what's on television is terrible, just like most of the books you find in the bookstore are terrible."
Why is it that marketers tend to add to the glut of communications drek in the world?  Is it really because we aren't careful in establishing success measures?  Or is it really largely a "faith-based initiative" as Avinash Kaushik puts it?

Last Sunday, the Super Bowl featured all the new TV spots that marketers seemed so ready to offer $3 million a pop for.  Some were funny, some weren't. Some were clever, some weren't.  Was the point selling products?  Or did much of this advertising represent leaps of faith in believing that some impact -- any impact -- would somehow be good for business?

With all due respect to Mr. Kaushik, I think marketing is, by it's very nature, a leap of faith to some extent.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

On demonstrating the value of marketing

An old business adage says, "You can't manage what you don't measure."  Marketers have struggled with this for years.  But in tough economic times, measuring results may be the only way to demonstrate the value of marketing in an organization.  Otherwise, marketing expense lines become easy prey at budget time.

Laura Patterson of VisionEdge Marketing makes a strong case for not just measuring metrics, but figuring out ways to measure performance. After all, if you can tie your organization's bottom line to its investment in marketing, you insulate yourself from the budget axe, plus you grow your own job satisfaction.

"Marketers need to move from managing metrics to managing performance. When marketing achieves this level of competency, it will be able to leverage metrics to support the decision making process, investments, and drive change. The value from the investments in marketing tools, processes, systems and skills for measuring marketing effectiveness will be lost if we do (not) use the insights from metrics to help guide the organization."  (Read the entire article here.)