That’s the view of Les Binet, head of effectiveness at advertising agency Adam & Eve DDB, who – along with Peter Field – has been studying and publishing material on how advertising works, how to evaluate it, and how to make it better.

Les gave a very enlightening talk as part of the Financial Services Forum Autumn Members’ Conference recently, entitled “Effectiveness in Context: A Manual for Brand-Building”.

Having researched marketing effectiveness – what really works in bringing in the money and driving growth for an organisation – from the plethora of brand awards data held by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), Binet and Field have discovered that most brands, and therefore marketing teams, have got it all wrong.

Focusing on short-term sales activation and acquisition marketing campaigns year-on-year – whilst these can return positive results – does not bring long-term growth for an organisation.

Long-term brand building activity results in long-term growth in base sales along with reduced price sensitivity – meaning your product or service is bought on value, not price – when compared to short-term sales activation.

Brand is the main driver of growth and profit - across all sectors.

As a marketer, the more brand metrics you can move upwards, the stronger the results for your organisation – and you’ll also see bigger results from your sales activation efforts.

SoV more important than market share, and loyalty doesn’t work

What Binet and Field also found is that when a brand’s share of voice (SoV) is greater than its share of market, that brand tends to grow.

Conversely, when a brand’s market share is greater than its SoV, the brand tends to shrink.

The research has also shown that loyalty-first marketing hardly ever works in delivering growth for an organisation – in fact, loyalty makes up less than 1% of growth.

A reach strategy outperforms loyalty and acquisition marketing efforts every time.

Marketing messaging – rational vs. emotional

The study also revealed that the marketing messaging for brand building and during sales activation needs to be completely different.

In all the data and successful marketing campaigns Binet and Field reviewed, they discovered that the kind of messaging that resulted in more conversions during a sales activation campaign focused on being ‘rational’ – e.g. “Get these shoes in time for Christmas – this weekend only!

Messaging for sales activation 
Rational messaging better for sales activation activity

Interestingly, Binet and Field also found that the more emotional the purchase, the more sales activation activity is required.

The more considered the purchase, the less sales activation required.

For brand building activity, ‘emotional’ messaging leads to a higher rate of success – e.g. “The shoes that will get you your next job…

Messaging when brand building 
Emotional messaging better for brand building activity

For sectors such as financial services or B2B, brand building needs to be a major marketing focus compared to sales activation, at probably an 80 / 20 split.

Why are marketers getting it wrong?

Has the rise of digital marketing, and its measurability, led to marketers and organisations purely focusing on short-term sales activity, to the detriment of long-term brand building through other, less measurable, channels?

Is it because the period of tenure for a CMO these days is so short, that they would prefer to keep the Board happy and produce short-term results to put on their CV, rather than do the right thing for the organisation long-term?

Are Boards, and their desire for an instant return for shareholders, part of the problem?

Who knows? Perhaps all the above is true.

What we can say is that it appears, based on Binet and Field’s research, as well as studies from the Ehrenberg Bass Institute for Marketing Science, and the persistent, challenging voice of Mark Ritson in Marketing Week, many marketing teams are focusing on the wrong thing.

What does this mean for digital marketing?

When it comes to brand building, TV, radio, OOH (out of home) media, and email still rule the roost when it comes to reach – but digital channels still have an important role to play.

Too many marketing teams use digital channels solely for sales activation efforts, and forget about their role in long-term brand building.

Display advertising, PPC search, and SEO can all be used effectively as part of brand building efforts.

The rise and rise of video is a case in point – with more and more people consuming more video content, whether at work, on social media, via mobile apps, or as a way to get their TV kick, the importance of this media in helping to build brand awareness and recognition, and delivering emotional engagement, is huge.

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Our approach to digital marketing is to test and iterate, test and iterate, showing constant improvement over both a short and long period of time, providing you with the data to make the right changes and the right decisions, as well as providing you with a business case to invest in digital channels for brand building, long-term.

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