Oh, the world of numbers. To those involved in Marketing, it goes with the territory. We look at the marketplace and how many prospective customers there might be. We slice and dice demographic information and analyze demographic trends. We do quantitative market research. We fixate on how many likes, follows, shares, retweets, etc. have occurred. And we’re not finished yet as new and more “effective” metrics are constantly being developed. While tracking marketing numbers isn’t like keeping up with the stats of, say, baseball, for many marketers, numbers are almost everything. And for some, they are everything.
Now, I’m pretty good at math. So, numbers don’t give me cold sweats, but truth be told, when it comes to marketing, I’m not a Big Data guy at all. I’m not one to get all caught up in the numbers game. The reason being that while I’m an “account guy,” I understand what really good creative, execution and integration will do toward driving sales compared to run-of-the-mill stuff. On more than one occasion, our agency has spoken with prospective clients who tell us how their marketing metrics are sucking wind. Our response is: “Let’s look at the creative you’re running and what it’s saying.” When it’s shown to us, there’s often little doubt what is creating the angst.
For my liking, far too many marketers rely too heavily on numbers to drive the marketing decisions. A former boss of mine who came from a LARGE national agency once pointed out that marketing is not a paint-by-numbers game where if you follow the color assignments and stay within the lines, the end result would be a beautiful painting…Viola! Instant success…without expending much thought, energy or creativity. And, that’s what I fear is what is happening to marketing. Especially in funeral marketing.
You can see when this takes place. Look at a TV commercial or radio spot or tradeshow booth or go online. There seems to be more and more marketers who are buying into templates, guides and stock creative. It’s as if the marketplace is just a large paint canvas fractured into tiny parts, which, if you paint each activity with the right color and stay within the lines, you’ll have a winning marketing program. Not so! What I believe happens more times than not is that you don’t end up with a masterpiece but rather a painting of dogs sitting around the table playing poker…you know the one.
For a marketing program to be clever, contemporary, and inviting enough to gain your audience’s attention, it requires meaningful thought, understanding, listening and… creativity. Uniqueness! Interestingness! Unfortunately, creativity and emotion are often scrubbed clean (and out of the picture) much to the happiness of many marketers who rely merely on data.
Yet some brands manage to break-away from the status quo and attain results. These brands — and those people who oversee them — combine experience and talent with a commitment to being fearless.
Unfortunately, even then, other brands try to find equal results by copying them. Remember “Got Milk”? Soon after, we saw “Got Plumber” and “Got Rice” and “Got …whatever” In the case of our agency, we developed a marketing program for a client that used a weeping angel statue to demonstrate how one would feel using the wrong type of business software. Hardly a few months after, a direct competitor used strikingly similar imagery and messaging. Really?!? I guess imitating was their template to seeing better results rather than trying to come up with something original themselves. They (the competitor) were trying to paint-by-numbers into a template not of their own making.
So what are the takeaways from all of this?
- Having metrics drive all your marketing decisions, void of smart, clever, on-point messaging that resonates with your audience, is a road with a dead-end. Which is probably not what you want.
- Templates and “how to” guides do not lend themselves to creativity.
- If you are responsible for marketing, it is your job to think differently. Painting by the numbers and staying within the lines won’t yield profits.
- BONUS: “The truth isn’t the truth until people believe you, and they can’t believe you if they don’t know what you’re saying, and they can’t know what you’re saying if they don’t listen to you, and they won’t listen to you if you’re not interesting, and you won’t be interesting until you say and do things imaginatively, originally, freshly.” – Bill Bernbach
In the end, while numbers and data help marketers define the market and opportunities that present themselves, as well as quantify the buyer’s journey, remember that lasting relationships and brand loyalty are the result of original thinking.
Rolf Gutknecht is vice president, director of account services for LA ads. To discuss your thoughts with Rolf on this blog or any marketing matters, email via this link, or visit www.LAadsMarketing.com/funeral. You can also connect with Rolf on LinkedIn.