It’s been 10 years since “godfathers of effectiveness” Les Binet and Peter Field published their book The Long and the Short of It.
In the latest episode of Marketing Week’s This Much I Learned podcast, Binet and Field discuss the inception of the book and reflect on its impact on the marketing industry.
Binet says the book came about as they “just wanted to know the truth” about how advertising really worked, after having an “epiphany” about emotional versus rational advertising while digging into the data for their first book, Marketing in the Era of Accountability.
“Peter and I were both at BMP… and we’d both been trained to think that great advertising took a rational message and put it in an emotional envelope. So the key to powerful advertising was to find a motivating message and then tell that story in an engaging and emotive way,” Binet explains.
“So when we examined the data, what we expected to find was that the killer combination was emotional and rational together. But when we looked at [it], that is not what we found. What we found was actually quite different. We found that the more you moved away from rational messages to pure emotion, the more effective advertising was.”
It is perfectly possible to build a brand online, it just turns out to be much more difficult than anyone imagined. And it’s only recent work that has really taught us why.
He says this “was not a comfortable finding” and wasn’t what the duo wanted or expected to see.
“We looked at it in quite a few different ways and the only area where rational communication worked best was short term, direct response, performance marketing. Everything else it was primarily emotional.”
Binet describes this discovery as a “shock”, as it “undermined the belief in how advertising worked”.
He adds: “We had the beginnings of a model where there were two quite different ways to communicate with people and we had a hunch it was also related to short and long term, so we then interrogated that in greater depth in The Long and the Short of It.”
Although the duo didn’t set out to make the book a rallying call, that’s what it became, Field says.
“The performance marketing revolution shaped a decade of marketing where everyone was told brand building was an old fashioned and inefficient way of thinking, and that the smart way to go was to use big data to serve these activation messages at the last moment,” he explains.
“A lot of people in marketing weren’t even aware of what was going on. Behind their marketing world this heavy sell was going in at the C-suite, and companies were pulling money out of brand building and developing their own performance marketing operations, and marketing was missing out on that budget. So that became the rally cry as it was going on in a rather clandestine manner.”
In this comprehensive discussion, Binet and Field also look ahead, sharing their thoughts on using digital channels for brand building – “it’s not about channels, it’s about mechanisms”, Binet says – measuring success online and making the case for marketing investment.
Field says: “Lots of companies have had their fingers burnt by trying to brand build online… It is perfectly possible to build a brand online, it just turns out to be much more difficult than anyone imagined. And it’s only recent work that has really taught us why.”
From opening up about mental health issues to closing the career confidence gap, you can listen to previous episodes of Marketing Week’s This Much I Learned podcast on Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud and Spotify.