“Again I must apologise for pointing out something childishly obvious… but it is clearly necessary, as almost every major marketer makes this exceptionally stupid mistake.
As a matter of fact, a large and lucrative industry has grown up to cater for the idiots who make it.
It is called by those of us who have suffered from it, a “beauty parade”. Or, more formally, The Pitch for the Account.
Here’s how it goes, all too often.
1. A large firm gets a new marketing director.
2. Among the many things he or she does – like changing everything his predecessor did, good or bad – is to change the agency, good or bad.
3. The objective is often, but not always, to get old friends in.
4. A statement is issued to the Trade Press – which in our industry is a sort of extended gossip column interspersed with news of little importance, fawning articles about industry “figures” and jargon-crammed pieces written by suppliers in the hope of flogging stuff.
5. Since the only thing of real interest is what might make money, the announcement is read eagerly and the firm is bombarded with requests from agencies to be considered.
6. An outside firm is hired (at considerable expense) to suggest which agencies should be allowed to present for the account because the client is either too idle or ill-informed to do this simple task.
7. They, quite impartially, of course, suggest (far too many) firms who have paid them to be put on such lists and who seem on the face of it to be qualified.
8. Vast sums of money, far too much time, and altogether too many meetings are devoted to the agencies putting together proposals and the clients reviewing them.
9. A “short list” is created.
10 More meetings take place, much speculative creative work is produced, and then in a series of presentations (with more meetings to talk about them) the clients decide who will get the account.
11. Sometimes the creative work is put into research, which usually gives absolutely no indication of what will really work (and often is 180 degrees wrong, I assure you).
12. The account is assigned.
13. The client is taken to some excellent, if overpriced restaurants.
14. Since the agency knew even less about the business than the client they are now asked to produce more work which reflects something closer to the facts.
So now you know one very good reason why so much marketing fails.
If you actually want it to work, just find out the agencies (or people) who appear best qualified, based on proper research by you – if you are the person responsible.
Then ask the two or three agencies who seem to have the best record of getting measurable results and can explain how they got them, to create work you can test.
Once you appoint someone, keep testing their work against that done by others, without making them feel threatened – assuming they are doing a good job.
(And before you switch again, remember that teaching new people takes time and costs money)
Any fool should know all this, but clearly many otherwise smart people don’t.