A drive through downtown Manhattan places you in a dense stew of outdoor advertising. Whenever I drive downtown with my staff, we play a game: we grade the relevance of each billboard we pass.
A few weeks ago, we saw this outdoor disaster: “Martinis Shaken and Stirred you are not. Continental Airlines.” Another, for dog food, featured an adorable canine. But I had to take notes to recall the billboard was for Pedigree.
The other 32-plus billboards we graded didn’t fare much better. Getting out at the parking garage, we were shaking our noggins in disappointment.
“Where’s the beef?” we asked. Where’s the relevance?
No company plans to spend huge dough on a bad billboard, Web site, TV spot, or online banner ad. So why is it so hard to find relevant messages? Where are the ad campaigns and Web sites that speak to the customer’s heart? Where are the memorable campaigns that move people to take a buying action?
A recent Harvard Business Online article states some sorry numbers. A survey of 500 businesses shows an average ROI (define) of 4 percent. Ouch! Another cited study shows doubling ad spend resulted in an average 1 to 2 percent sales increase. According to the article: “Marketers aren’t unhappy because they can’t measure marketing performance. They’re unhappy because they now can — and they don’t like what they see. They need to go beyond metrics and take a hard look at why the numbers are so bad.”
Most of these companies hire smart ad people whose every intention is to craft an effective campaign. Yet something is lost in translation. On- and offline marketing suffer the same problem: relevance is elusive and just out of reach.
Our experience suggests the absence of relevance is a result of some common mindsets. Do you recognize any of these in your company?