Direct Marketers failing to deliver results
I have just spent the past two days judging entrants in the Direct Marketing Association of South Africa’s, Assegai Awards. I was once again reminded that we have some amazing agencies who take great pride in what they produce on behalf of their clients.
I saw some really amazing creative, clever execution and really great return on investment on behalf of client organisations. I was particularly chuffed when I saw agencies that had successfully met all of the criteria, that is they had well thought out strategy, brilliant creative and documented ROI. I had no hesitation in awarding these entries high marks.
Despite there being a number of excellent entries, there were far too many, who in my opinion anyway, did not deliver the goods. The non delivery could be classified into three categories:
1) Strategic Intent: I encountered a huge number of entries where the strategy was not put down well. There was very little thought placed on what the client was even doing with going to market with the particular campaign. There were not clear objectives established for the campaign
2) Creative Execution: While there were plenty examples off really good creative there were far too many that, simply put, did not work at all. Campaigns we clearly cobbled together out of existing elements from other campaigns and repurposed for the new campaign.
3) Return of Investment: This was probably the most frustrating aspect of the judging process. There were more entries that did not have relevant ROI information than those that actually carried the information. It appears that the client was happy just to put out the campaign.
Talking to the first two points of Strategy Development and Creative Execution. There can be no excuse, even a limited budget, for not delivering the best value that you can for the campaign. A cleverly constructed strategy can often assist in delivering a great campaign with a limited creative budget. An unclear strategy will drive poor creative excecution and probably an over budget spend.
As the agency it is your prerogative to deliver, the first two elements to your client. The blame for failing on these two elements can only be apportioned to the agency.
The third and, in my view, most important point is the area of return of investment. This area carries a joint responsibility between the client and the agency. First of all, in the field of Direct Marketing, we need measurement criteria. Of all of the marketing disciplines, this is the one area the purports to be the most measureable and can give the client immediate feedback on the success or failure of the campaign. It is the agencies responsibility to say to the client, please give me the measurements we need to meet.
From a client point of view, if you do not set measurement goals and returns on your direct marketing efforts you are failing to understand the core principle of this discipline. Equally setting a ROI goal that is vague like “We want to achieve a 40% click through” is meaningless unless it can be translated into further action.
In closing I was amazed to see how much money is expended in this field and how little effort is being made to report on the success or failure of the campaigns. I was left with the distinct impression that many agents see direct marketing as purely a support function to their above the line spend and therefore treat it as a by-product of their above the line creative efforts.