Thursday, March 24, 2011

Another Stupid Ad Agency Trick

Opened an e-mail from a local ad agency today, which bragged about their latest contribution to the business and marketing world - the "Brand Audit," conducted to determine this gullible new client's "brand equity."

I can't make this nonsense up, here's the link and main "benefits" of this announcement:

Customer Response Research

Consumer response research is central to the brand exploratory. It is concentrated on understanding the preferences, attitudes, and behaviors of consumers in Barnacle Bookkeeping’s niche, and it aims to understand the effects and comparative success of past and potential marketing campaigns.

Brand Inventory

Brand Inventory assesses various marketing mix inputs (strategies, programs and tactics; including brand elements, product attributes, communication programs, pricing, distribution, etc.), and delineates how individually and collectively they execute the brand strategy.

Brand Exploratory

Brand Exploratory seeks confirmation that the target market actually thinks and feels about the brand as intended; to confirm if indeed that target has absorbed brand knowledge and is responding positively to the brand and its associated marketing.

What's missing in this worthless diatribe of "brand-speak"? Whether their marketing efforts have actually made a SALE for said client.

The only metric any business should be concerned with is the results a marketing campaign or advertisement produced - measured in sales or dollars. That's why I'm a direct-response copywriter, who focuses on results for my clients. Agencies who sell and talk about absolute nonsense like this, is why I don't put much stock in the value of "brand-building" for a small-to-medium-sized business.

Here's a recent example of a formerly big company who met its untimely demise, because its management didn't pay attention to marketing fundamentals.

Remember McClain Finlon, who used to be one of Denver's biggest ad agencies? They had sales of $210 million per year in the mid-2000s, and Qwest was their biggest client - responsible for about 1/3 of their annual revenues. Qwest had a failing business model, so like any good corporation, they blamed their marketing for their poor business results. Qwest switched to an ad agency out of Cleveland, which didn't improve their sales... that's why Qwest merged with Century-Tel last April.

Eventually, McClain Finlon was sold to a new owner, went into bankruptcy... and out of business altogether by 2009.

I talked with folks at this agency in 2007, and they wanted copywriters to do short, cute, and clever ads for their clients. Didn't sound like they really cared that much about results - just so it looked "creative."

I tell you this story because it's a real-life example of what happens when you get away from good marketing fundamentals. Don't focus on being cute or clever, focus on what the value is for your client... get their attention... build trust and the relationship, which should eventually lead to a sale. That's what good, effective marketing is all about.

Especially in today's economic conditions - and for the foreseeable future - smart companies will demand that you prove the results of your advertising and marketing campaigns. If it doesn't produce sufficient sales, scrap it and try something else.

If you're considering an agency or marketing firm who spouts this kind of nonsense - and doesn't tie what they do to increasing your sales or revenues - get the heck out of there, and find a company or professional who does.