Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Judging Creative

Participating in quite a few creative presentations and the subsequent review discussions of how good or bad the creative is, I observed that most marketers are not able to judge creative work in any meaningful manner. Either marketers are not at all able to even voice a judgment or marketers are quick to applaud or condemn creative work with nothing more than a personal taste preference. After witnessing so many round of creative presentations, I am suggesting a typology of marketers depending on how they judge and decide on creative programs:
  • The Intuitive: Here, it’s all about personal taste, about the impulsive reaction to creative work without too much reflection or analytical thinking. This marketer seems to know within a fraction of a second what works and what doesn’t. This marketer does not need any discussion, the decision is done.
  • The Discusser: This marketer likes to withhold any immediate judgment and rather waits if the participating group discussion creates a majority consensus. Within seconds of realizing the emerging consensus, this marketer will give a compelling speech and summary of rational reasons why the emerging creative favorite is the right solution.
  • The Researcher: This marketer will postpone any true feedback and decision until he has seen all the quantitative and qualitative research work. This marketer believes the truth lies in the research numbers, not in the minds of the participants.
  • The Destroyer: For this marketer no presented creative is ever good enough. The discussion following the creative presentation feels like a Simon Fuller like nightmare scenario without any chance of making any progress in any kind of creative direction. The decision which creative will be ultimately used will be done 2 days after the already three time postponed deadline without any rationale.

Unfortunately these outlined types of marketers demonstrate that most of them are not able to dissect creative programs in any helpful way. Worse, most marketers don’t have a filter or true decision criteria of how they could decide if the creative is good or bad. Too often they are either falling in one of the above categories or they are making up their own mix across all four types.

Only a marketer who combines his own personal “gut” experience (remember “Blink”), a clearly defined and applied strategic filter to dissect if the creative meets the defined business challenges, and insights from well executed quantitative and qualitative research, will have a long-term high batting average. Every other marketer just prays for a good day, and there are fewer than one might think.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Network Marketing

Over the last weeks a published report by “The New England Journal of Medicine” about how network of friends are so influential that a weight increase by one member can be explained by the weight increases of other network members got a lot of attention. The study involved a detailed analysis of a large social network of over 12,000 people who have been closely followed for 32 years (The population of Framingham, Mass.). Gina Kolata from the New Yorks writes on this Sunday: “Now, scientists believe that social networks not only spread diseases, like the common cold, but also may influence many types of behavior – negative and positive- which then affect an individual’s health, as well as a community’s…The challenges now is to map out complex dynamic networks.”

Reading all these articles that picked up this highly fascinating report, I could not wonder if we data driven marketers continue to underestimate the power of friends and family networks, of real live human networks that fall outside of understanding realm for most marketers. But I think this will change due to several reasons:
  • There are more and more data streams that capture the interactions of these human networks. Starting from text messaging amongst “The fab five” networks of cellphone users to Facebook members spending several hours per day on updating and communicating amongst their peers to the tight communities of some niche bloggers, this all leads to a data capturing mechanism that could help us understand network patterns. It’s not about breaking someone’s privacy but about understanding human network paradigms by analyzing these interactions.
  • Marketers know that the importance of traditional mass marketing will further decrease, therefore they need to invest intelligence and resources in leveraging other means of communication. Penetrating human networks with relevant messages will become more important.
  • There is already an increasing focus on Viral Marketing, Word-to-Mouth Marketing, Buzz marketing, and all related real or pseudo disciplines. But there is a tremendous lack of building a data driven science to utilize these different approaches in any accountable and meaningful manner. The critically need science is the understanding of human network structures, interactions between network members, and behavioral patterns driven by this network. It’s the marriage of psychology with behavioral and economical research methodologies under the lenses of a curious marketer.

It’s less about Viral Marketing than Network marketing. But first we will need to understand the interactions within these millions of human networks in a scalable and relevant manner. Then it becomes interesting.