Stop staggering, my friends

Issue 15 | June 2010

Production Team

- Patrick Collister

As always, many thanks to anyone who submitted work to Directory 15 and if it didn’t make the cut I can only say, isn’t that great? It means direct is getting so darn good these days that even your brilliant work is finding it hard to get the recognition it deserves.

My theme, I suppose, is that direct marketers should never feel the need to be apologetic for what they do. And creative teams who are behind some of the inventive, engaging, fantastically successful campaigns you can see in the pages ahead need never feel inferior to the ATL luvvies who still think telly is the No.1 medium. Because they do.

For example, at least twenty of the submissions we got for Directory 15 used the word ‘staggering’ in the entry form.

“Staggeringly 7 in 10 were now awar…”

“The results were staggering…”

“A staggering 28% increase in traffic…”

Stop staggering, my friends. You are skilled professionals and you should not be surprised by what creativity can achieve. And if you are staggered, well, keep it to yourselves. No client wants to know his or her agency had not  planned and predicted success from the outset.

Below the line does not mean below average

As for the creatives in direct agencies, hold your heads high. Please. Yes, it used to be that the lowest of the low were those who could only find shelter writing letters and leaflets. And in the pecking order of countries, maybe it was just about okay to be in DM in the UK or Germany but in Greece, say, you were clearly as talented as a table leg.

Except, here we are with OgilvyOne Athens showing how a creative mind in a direct marketing agency can be the inspiration behind a half-hour TV show.

Or a creative mind in AIM Proximity New Zealand thinking, “wouldn’t it be great to create and market our own yellow chocolate bar?”

Creative people in agencies where they understand response, understand one-to-one interaction, are doing some of the most interesting work in the world right now. And you can see some of it in this issue.

Here’s a true story.

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to show some of the recent work we have published (and are about to publish) in Directory to the creative department of one of the UK’s top advertising agencies. Actually, it’s one of the top agencies in the world for creativity and awards won.

At the end of my show these winners of Lions and Pencils for TV and print applauded generously and genuinely. They weren’t applauding me, funny little balding guy who waves his arms around. They were applauding YOU. For the work you are creating because it is engaging, charming, personal, relevant, surprising,truthful.

Return on Idea

This is why Directory exists, to champion ROI – meaning return on idea rather than return on investment. For me, return on investment is inane as a concept. Who does not want their spend to be turned into profit of some kind? Used as an objective, return on investment simply means basing your thinking on previous history. In other words, repeating previous actions but with minor modifications.

It was Einstein who said that repeating yourself is madness and that’s precisely what many marketers do, spending vast sums of money hoping to achieve ROI in the low single figures.

Return on idea is a concept that demands both client and agency to be more ambitious. And that’s one of the reasons the Swedish Armed Forces campaign from DDB Stockholm on pages 82-83 is worth studying. They mailed out 7,500 packs with a single frame from a film in each. If they got 100% response, the whole film could be assembled. If they got only a 35% response, the idea would fail. The film would be unintelligible if edited together with that few number of frames.

So, a minimum response rate was 35%. Compare and contrast with most mailings where the desired rate is between 2% and 4%.

Think bigger

Set yourself higher targets, and you simply have to do something interesting. At Directory we’re not interested in creativity as an end in itself. But as a means to an end, and that end is to grow businesses, which, as a result of meaningful communications, will be rewarded with the necessary profits to re-invest in improving their products so their customers have more rewarding lives.

That’s all.

So, let’s stop this staggering. Let’s be more ambitious when we set our objectives because that will force us to think. Our congratulations then to everyone whose work has made it into Directory 15 because your thinking is

an inspiration to the rest of us.

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