Are We Taking Advice That Can Benefit Us?

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Jun 2, 2009 by Mark Maier

Read an interesting MediaPost article called "5 Changes Ad Agencies Must Make...Now" and it got me thinking about what broadcast and interactive teams are doing now in relation to these tips....

1. Become partners with your clients by tying a portion of the agency's compensation to results. Go further by doing the same for agency team members. Everyone should be motivated to achieve the campaign goals.

Without this level of accountability, agency/client relationships suffer. Attaching some level of quantifiable accountability provides an enormous amount of peace and mutual respect within a partnership. This establishes concrete criteria by which the campaign will be measured and its success judged. To do this, consider all expenses and factor in the campaign's results to calculate a cost per new customer.

For this to work, the client needs to offer the agency inside access to key company-wide performance indicators. If no advertising were running, how many calls, website visits, or in-person visits would the company receive from prospective customers? From what geographic areas? How many would result in sales?

2. The creative talent must work hand-in-hand with the analytics team. Creative must drive sales, and agencies must be able to prove return on investment.

Of course, everyone wants their creative to be effective at generating sales or meeting some other business objective. But, in practice, most creative agencies are not deliberate about tying those ads to specific results.

What I'm calling for is actually a major shift in an industry with an entrenched culture of keeping creative divorced from precise measurement. In the new age of accountability, anything that cannot be proven -- with numbers -- to lift the bottom line, is in danger of being cut. Advertising is about growing business; numbers ultimately determine success.

3. But don't think you have to sacrifice the brand on the altar of results. Force the analytics team think about the brand. A successful campaign will both build brand and drive sales -- in fact, you can't do one without the other.

As you get clear data on what's working and what's not, it's easy to slip into short-term thinking -- relying on the numbers too much and ignoring the bigger picture. That can destroy the long-term value of the brand.

One of the huge benefits of an ROI-positive campaign is that it becomes self-supporting. Brand awareness is built through the frequency afforded by increased media budgets that are rapidly scalable due to this positive ROI.

4. Members of the creative team should review and analyze results regularly to optimize ad placement as they go. They should know where and when they're getting results, and know the cost of each new customer.

Gather the data from your campaigns and compare it to your baseline. Analyze it and make the incremental changes as you go. Make note of the peculiarities that may have existed for that time period, and make allowances for those.

The result of this work is that you'll become confident in the decisions you make daily about how to most effectively allocate budget across networks, shows, days, dayparts, and even your creative mix.

5. Include performance goals in the creative brief. Designing an ROI-positive campaign begins when the creative process begins.

If a campaign is designed (from start to finish) to combine the specialties of both creative brand-building and precise measurement strategies, it can generate positive ROI -- whether it's for TV, print, online or any combination.

The good news is there's a significant opportunity today for ad agencies that can offer their clients both strategic counsel and creative development -- and ROI-positive advertising. Contrary to popular opinion, "strategic" and "creative" are not mutually exclusive. Clients should insist on both, and agencies that develop both disciplines will set themselves apart in an increasingly competitive marketplace. "

We have always been partners with our advertisers, it is called commissions with either an increase, decrease or static budget. 

Oftentimes the creative team is the same person that is doing the analytics on the account, writing the script, and sometimes even voicing the commercial depending on the market you are in, direct feedback with production is always a key.

We use the EFS Generator to determine ROI with our clients, but we don't shoot from the hip there as we know that the Buyers Awareness Cycle and Buyers Awareness Cycle top 40 are also key considerations and information pieces that help us determine what we are doing for a brand.  We advise our clients that only 1% of any given audience is in the buying cycle for a particular good or service at any given time.  We know how long that buying cycle is on average, we know how many prospects we have to drive and what percentage of those prospects will buy.  We don't stop at information only, we use OES and TOMA approved schedules to build the brand and yet reach the majority of our audience over 3 times in a week to drive purchasing if they are in the buying cycle.  We stay away from cliche's in our copy and we strive to bring the client creative, entertaining commercials that evoke emotion in our listeners.

We rely on the client and their staff to source the results of their advertising leads.  This is probably the step that we see failure with the most as staff members forget to ask how they heard about them.  We provide our clients with a tally sheet for the front counter that is regularly updated and totalled each month to see where the leads are coming from.  Our properties are always the first ones listed because we provide the sheets, this also is helpful as staffers forget to ask they will make a tally mark on the property listed at the top.  Once tallied, we can review the results on a monthly basis, reminding our clients of the Buyers Awareness Cycle as we review and mold the campaign with time.

Every proposal we put in front of a client should include attainable goals and measurements taken from the EFS generator along with a commitment certification that they will track and source the leads that come through the door, talk to on the phone, or interact with them by e-mail or interactive means.

I wasn't shocked to find that we have adopted these measures a long time ago, are you executing them?

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