It’s easier to put a price on good than great.
Good will involve a few days of design, some development and copywriting, and a little paid media to put your campaign in front of a bunch of people. It will look quite nice, work fairly well, and will be signed off by your boss. Your marketing team will agree that it is on-brand and you will celebrate its launch. You’ll tweet a link to it and a handful of your friends will share it too.
It will cost you £20,000 and you will never see this cash again.
Great campaigns are different. You cannot add great as an afterthought – it must be fundamental to the idea from the outset. Great campaigns require purpose.
A great campaign will be born from insight and will captivate people in a way that wasn’t previously possible. It will fulfil a core business need and address a gap in your existing marketing. It will pay for itself many times over. It could even make you famous.
Getting from good to great is difficult. True greatness needs the stars to align; the work must come together beautifully and you must capture the market at the right time. There’s an element of luck involved. Even if you do everything right, you may only ever manage a few great campaigns in your career.
Takeout 1: Aiming for greatness is worth a higher investment, while settling for good can lead to failure
One thing is guaranteed. You will never get to great if you don’t design around an objective in the first place. Getting to the crux of the purpose requires diagnosing the challenge from the point of view of consumers. What do they need and how can you connect this with your own goals?
Broadly speaking there are five phases in a consumer journey. To be successful, your campaigns must engage people in at least one of these stages:
Analytics evangelist Avinash Kaushik has a measurement framework for these phases, which he calls ‘See-Think-Do’. He argues that each of the stages above needs its own approach, and identifies the risk in communicating the wrong message at the wrong time. Exposing people at the awareness stage to messages that are overly promotional, such as price comparisons, may actively put people off and ensure they never consider your product.
Equally, if you measure the wrong thing at the wrong time, you run the risk of destroying your own marketing. You can kill an awareness campaign by measuring it on sales, or you can design it to thrive with metrics such as views and shares. If you are thinking about the value of attracting longstanding customers, you will know that awareness is important, and once you have captured awareness you can hand over to campaigns that deal with consideration, intent and beyond.
Takeout 2: Connect your purpose to your customers at the right place in their consideration journey
To be great, a campaign must impact the bottom line of your business. It must help your company to make money, or save money.
This doesn’t mean taking a narrow view of the opportunity. The business value of an awareness campaign might not be immediately apparent to the commercial people in your company. It can take a long time for consumer awareness to become consideration, and it’s important to measure your campaigns on what they can realistically achieve.
Content that transforms intent into decision is more instantaneous and clear in its business value. Whilst this does not make it more important, it can be the best place to focus first, to help you gain permission for more ambitious campaigns later on.
It is important for creative people to convince those who are business- and finance-minded of the value of their work, because there’s no more definitive way to ensure failure than to kill the creative process before it gains momentum. Without creativity you are not going to get noticed.
Advertising creative Dave Trott has talked about the structure that shapes the way we communicate with others, from the day we are born until the day we die. To be successful, all communication must have three core elements:
He argues that too much advertising focuses on persuasion without generating impact in the first place, and you can’t persuade someone who hasn’t heard you.
Takeout 3: Align the purpose of your campaigns with the goals of your business, and don’t let short-term thinking kill long-term success
When I was designing shoes I was introduced to the concept of ‘cost per wear’. You can justify producing something more expensive if it will be used many times. Quality pays for itself in the long run.
I urge you to apply this to your marketing content investments. Pay less for merely suitable content and you will get it for a reasonable price, but after it launches you could find yourself back at square one and wondering why you invested in the first place.
Create something remarkable and you’ll see a return on your investment. It doesn’t need to be perfect first time. Measure it in the right way and you will inform the iterations and continual improvements that are needed to get you where you need to be.
When putting a price on content, consider what a great campaign can achieve for your business. Work out the potential benefit of the results you need, and invest as much as you can in a campaign that will achieve these results. Don’t merely settle for good. You may achieve nothing at all.
If you are going to be working long hours, investing time and money, and putting your heart and soul into your marketing, it better be worth it, right?