07 March 2010

The Moment of Truth

We're going to market right now with an integrated program. Last year the client hired us, and together we defined objectives, wrote a strategy and developed creative for a channel-neutral plan. Regular readers know I work for an agency with many capabilities under one roof, and this program shows what all we can do. None of that really matters, however.

What does matter: In-market results.

This past week I had two parallel conversations about cold, hard measurement and accountability. One was in the comment sections of some online articles about the rise of measurement in modern marketing. It seemed that many people didn't understand the difference between (a) financial metrics like a P&L, (b) planning metrics like copy testing, and (c) performance metrics like sales, share and ROI.

My clients aren't confused. The other conversation this week took place in their boardroom where we updated the CEO on our program. Financials? Check. Research? Check. Then: Are you going to hit the sales objective? That's what matters to them. In-market results.

It should matter to us all

We would all do well to embrace this most important moment of truth. Modern marketing offers us analytical tools to measure progress and figure out how to drive sales more effectively.

Dismissing these tools as the stuff of bean counters and copy testers is short-sighted and wrong. In-market results are the very reason we write strategies, channel plans and creative.


  1. From a brand / client perspective I like what you are saying about market results, ultimately driving sales. Interestingly, your blog is from perspective of inside the agency. Mine is from inside the brand.

  2. Miamiboggs: Thanks for commenting. I love your blog, Retail Leverage, and just added it to my blogroll. Retail is too-often overlooked. TV requires a lot of money and Digital gets a lot of hype but Retail is where the moment of truth arrives. Not many in the agency world appreciate this fact. -- Steve Schildwachter

  3. Great comment Steve.

    And, it shows why advertising education needs to change. J-school, portfolio school, design schools, and general liberal arts educations help set us up to be unable (as a business) to interact effectively with clients about their business goals. If we're going to target in-market sales effectiveness, then our agencies need to become capable of guiding all our efforts with an eye to their ultimate impact in-market.

    We do that (as it's clear you do too). And, my team members who came from traditional ad programs are clear that there wasn't even a hint of discussion in their programs about the measurement you're discussing.

    Keep up the good work. (Great to hear from Ben too!)

    ...Doug Garnett

  4. Thanks for the encouragement, Doug. The only small quibble I have with your comment is that a liberal arts education really does come in handy. I was an English major, and/but took courses in almost every subject at college. This education helped me to analyze situations, including data situations, and understand what matters. Apart from that, I agree that there are drawbacks as well as advantages to some of the other programs you mentioned.

    The real issue is in the agencies themselves. I agree that there is a very low level of respect for data. To be sure, some of this is borne out of resentment towards people who can't decide something without a number to "back it up". At the same time few seem to appreciate that clients hire us to drive the business, not just make ads.

    Years ago I worked on the McDonald's Owners of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana, or MOCNI -- the local franchise association. We knew on Monday whether the campaign we started Friday was selling any hamburgers. We also had to calculate the P&L for each program, reassuring ourselves and the franchisees that selling Two Big Macs for $2 would drive more than enough traffic to make up for the revenue lost on the discount.

    I was hooked. Results matter.