“Win­ning ad awards is a silly way to mea­sure suc­cess.”  – A para­phrase of thoughts expressed by my col­leagues, Tim Miles and Char­lie Moger.

And while I heartily sec­ond that emo­tion, I usu­ally let Tim or Char­lie express it, since it’s less sour-grapey to say it after you’ve won those kinds of awards, which they have.

But the inter­est­ing thing is that not all ad awards are based merely on creativity.

You can enter and win awards based upon mar­ket­ing effec­tive­ness! That award is called an “Effie,” and you can review the 2012 Effie win­ners here.

But if you’d also like to see a meta-analysis of win­ning cam­paigns, show­ing what win­ning and final­ist entrants had in com­mon, then you’re also in luck.

Effie World­wide has com­pliled just such an analy­sis in their 2012 Effie Report, and have also been kind enough to sum­ma­rize their  key find­ings as follows:

  • Effie Final­ists tend to spend more on paid media, but not nec­es­sar­ily the most. More final­ists spent in the $20 mil­lion to $40 mil­lion range than in the $40 mil­lion+ cat­e­gory, and nearly half spent less than $20 million.
  • Effie medal­ists have slightly fewer goals to achieve, and cam­paigns with a busi­ness objec­tive, rather than one to reach a tar­get audi­ence, col­lect more medals.
  • Never under­es­ti­mate David tak­ing on Goliath – he’s 47 per­cent more likely to win an Effie medal.
  • In the Shop­per Mar­ket­ing Effie cat­e­gories, about two-thirds of final­ists’ pro­grams demon­strated some aspect of dis­rup­tion – either by novel prod­uct place­ment in the store, chang­ing the way shop­pers per­ceived the retailer or chang­ing per­cep­tions of the brand.”

So what I’d like to do today is take each of Effie Worldwide’s bul­let points and dis­cuss it in terms of local advertising/branding:

Spend More on Paid Media

It’s tempt­ing to go after “free adver­tis­ing” such as Word of Mouth, Social Media, and var­i­ous PR and Guerilla Mar­ket­ing tac­tics, but while those are effec­tive, expe­ri­ence shows that there’s just no replac­ing old-school mass media mus­cle when it comes to grab­bing increased share of mind, and in turrn, share of mar­ket.

But if that’s the case, then why didn’t final­ist spend the most on media?  Frankly, I’m guess­ing here, but I think this indi­cates intel­li­gent media buys along with the desire to effec­tively con­cen­trate on one (or a few) media source(s) rather than a spend­ing spree spread out over too many media types.

It might also indi­cate the invest­ment in long-term, day-in and day-out media spends for brand­ing rather than mas­sive, flash-in-the-pan spend­ing for one-time mar­ket­ing blitzes.

In any case, accord­ing to Effie World­wide, effec­tive mar­ket­ing strate­gies are more likely to have intel­li­gently invested in paid media.

Focus on Fewer Goals & Tie Them to Busi­ness Objectives

There’s an apoc­ryphal story about a copy­writer who was late to a client meet­ing, wherein the board was going to dis­cuss with him the 13 Points they wanted to their ad to cover.

So the copy­writer walks in late car­ry­ing a hockey bag over his shoul­der. With­out say­ing a word, he places the bag on the con­fer­ence table, pulls out a board that’s basi­cally been turned into a bed of nails — a rather eye catch­ing prop that grabs every eye in the room as it’s placed on the table.

The copy­writer then takes a fry pan out of the bag and slams it down onto the bed of nails. Lift­ing the fry pan up, he shows the exec­u­tive team the dim­ples. Then writer-boy swaps out the bed of nails with a board fea­tur­ing a sin­gle, impos­ing spike potrud­ing from it. He slams the fry pan down, forc­ing the spike clean through it, cre­at­ing a half-inch hole big enough to stare through when mr. copy­writer holds the pan up to show the board.

At this point, our intre­pid copy­writer says, “Now how many points do you want the ad mes­sag­ing to convey?”

As it is with ads, so it is with cam­paigns: one point, goal, or objec­tive per cam­paign is always best.

And if you want to nar­row it down to one objec­tive, you’ll want to choose a busi­ness objec­tive. So, fig­ure out how you want to mea­sure suc­cess in term of your (or your client’s) busi­ness, along with what the required time­line is, THEN cre­ate a cam­paign clearly aimed at achiev­ing that sin­gu­lar, busi­ness goal.

And by the way, “dri­ving traf­fic” isn’t a busi­ness goal. Increas­ing gross sales might be, but merely get­ting traf­fic through the door isn’t. So con­ver­sion ain’t just a met­ric for online businesses…

Act Like David Rather Than Goliath

Increas­ing mar­ket share when you have very lit­tle of it to begin with is rel­a­tively easy, as there are plenty of com­peti­tors to steal cus­tomers from, and plenty of prospec­tive cus­tomers to steal. On the other hand, once you’ve cor­nered 30–35% of the mar­ket, grab­bing more of that same mar­ket is darned difficult.

This is why, again accord­ing to the Effie Report, smaller busi­nesses tak­ing on larger com­pe­ti­tion are more likely to find their adver­tis­ing effec­tive — because gain­ing mar­ket­share always involves steal­ing it from some­one else. So when you’re already hold­ing almost all the mar­bles, there are fewer and fewer left to acquire.

For local busi­nesses that means that once you become the Goliath of your cat­e­gory, you either have to open up a new store in another mar­ket, or open up another busi­ness, or business-line, in the same mar­ket. Either way, your future growth will be pow­ered by your Davids rather than your Goliaths.

Of course, this assumes that the smaller busi­ness has some­thing new or inter­est­ing to offer the cus­tomer… which leads us to

Prac­tice Disruption

If you look at how that last bul­let point is worded, it’s basi­cally say­ing you need to do two things:

  1. Grab people’s atten­tion through some form of novelty
  2. Pro­vide peo­ple with some sort of Unique Sell­ing Proposi­ton, OR change the way they FEEL about the brand

In other words, if you’re offerng the exact same thing as every­one else, in the exact same man­ner, and if your ads are pre­dictable, bor­ing and dull, then it won’t mat­ter that you’re invest­ing in paid media in order to air ads aimed at achiev­ing mea­sur­able busi­ness goals for a busi­ness that has plenty of mar­ket share left to steal — you’ll still lose.

But if you’re ads cap­ture the inter­est and imag­i­na­tion of the buy­ing pub­lic, while offer­ing them a strong rea­son to do busi­ness with you, you’ll soon dis­rupt the power struc­ture of your indus­try as you dom­i­nate every mar­ket you care to enter.

My only note of cau­tion is to add in a third point: cred­i­bil­ity. You can grab their atten­tion and promise them a tempt­ing and rel­e­vant ben­e­fit, but if your audi­ence doesn’t believe you, your ads won’t achieve much.

Rel­e­vance and Cred­i­bil­ity are the meat of the mes­sage. The nov­elty part sim­ply ensures that your mes­sage is heard long enough to be deemed rel­e­vant and credible.

Ah… Val­i­da­tion

Inter­est­ingly enough, these are the same prin­ci­ples espoused by all Wiz­ard of Ads Part­ners, includ­ing Tim and Char­lie, so it’s grat­i­fy­ing to see them espoused by a insti­tu­tion ded­i­cated to pro­mot­ing effec­tive adver­tis­ing, such as Effie Worldwide.

If you’re inter­ested in explor­ing these prin­ci­ples to grow your busi­ness, why not con­tact one of us?

2013 is just get­ting started, why not make it your year to thrive?

 

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