Why developing a marketing effectiveness culture is ‘an ongoing process’

TSB and Virgin Media O2 are both focusing on long-term visions of effectiveness, but believe short-term indicators are useful in building “confidence” throughout the organisation.

Effectiveness targetBuilding a marketing effectiveness culture in an organisation is not something that will happen overnight. From setting the direction and securing buy-in to implementing changes and putting everything into action, it all takes time.

TSB’s marketing performance and planning manager, Owain Jevons, describes it as a “journey”.

The bank is currently in the process of shifting its view of effectiveness to “look at the next three years, not just the next one”, he said, speaking on a panel at Kantar’s recent Ignite event.

TSB is also now “looking more intently” at the role of customer advocacy and CRM as a means of driving ROI alongside media implementation.

Jevons admitted TSB had been “behind” the curve when it comes to implementing an effectiveness culture, referring to Kantar’s marketing effectiveness maturity curve, which is split into three stages, with the first being “establish”, the second “develop” and the third “realise”.

He said TSB currently sits somewhere between the first and second stages, but predicted this year will see “transformative” progress for the brand in building its effectiveness culture.

Virgin Media O2’s head of planning, insights and effectiveness, Ruth Pignal-Jacquard, said the business was further along on its journey, putting its progress somewhere between the develop and realise stages.

She said Virgin Media O2 has made real progress and its effectiveness culture is now “very strong” in in the marketing team. But the organisation is now looking to establish the same culture in other commercial teams.

Aligning the whole organisation, particularly finance, around long-term effectiveness goals is “an ongoing process” of education rather than a one-time conversation, she stated, partly as different stakeholders within the organisation will be at “different stages” of understanding.

“Effectiveness means different things to different teams,” she added. For the finance team within Virgin Media O2, effectiveness can mean efficiency and a focus on ROI, for example. With the easiest way to improve ROI being to cut media spend, marketing must look to build “confidence” in longer-term measures, she suggested.

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She believes it is a case of “educating” different stakeholders to align them around a common definition of effectiveness.

The first step in doing this is ensuring the marketing team is aligned on its objectives and how to achieve them, she said. Once this has been done it is far easier to bring along the rest of the business.

Jevons has implemented a “carrot and stick” approach to introducing a culture of effectiveness at TSB, he noted. The “carrot” is an AI platform that allows anyone in the organisation to view the latest results of the brand’s work.

As well as looking to broaden access and get team members involved with the results, TSB has introduced a “stick” to embed an effectiveness culture.

“We’ve recently introduced a process so that any new requests coming into marketing must have a clearly defined measurable objective and measurement plan,” he said.

Building confidence in the long term

Moving away from short-term thinking is a difficult process, TSB’s Jevons noted, with longer-term measures like econometrics often harder to understand than things like last click attribution.

But this focus on last click that has become “entrenched” in many organisations has led to a “quick, sharp hit culture” that brands are now trying to counter through longer-term models.

TSB’s focus on the long-term effectiveness of its marketing does not mean it is completely abandoning short-term indicators, though.

Jevons said in TSB’s latest campaign featuring brand character Tiny the Elephant, it will be judging success through “long-term KPIs as informed by econometrics and brand tracking” but that it will also be looking at shorter term measures to ensure the message is “being received”.

He stated the business is “very careful” to call these indicators rather than KPIs, because they indicate the message is being received rather than delivering on the long-term growth it is ultimately aiming for.

When O2 first introduced its brand mascot Bubl, Pignal-Jacquard said it was very hard to see how the character was helping to shift longer-term metrics as gains were “incremental”. However, the brand used shorter-term metrics to build “confidence” among stakeholders that the creative platform was shifting the dial.

While Virgin Media O2 is still on a journey to build an effectiveness culture throughout its organisation, Pignal-Jacquard said the “penny has dropped” and the business now understands it cannot grow through innovation or cost cutting alone. For her, the business now must grow through brand.

“To grow we’re going have to do something differently,” she said.