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    June 17, 2008

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    Dilbert Jr.

    All those steps are great if you're a company with a large enough budget (or the agency who gets paid to implement it, with no incentive to create immediate results). But for most small- to medium-sized businesses, it ends up being more flash than cash. While it's fun for creatives to ponder and blog about, business owners like me need to make payroll with a metric that can be taken to the bank. I'm all for multi-step sales that payoff. But 9 times out of 10 I can get the same results by thinking smarter, not larger. Which keeps my doors open and my employees' families fed.

    Leigh

    This debate is interesting separate from the specific case we're talking about. If you grow up in retail advertising, you have a strong sense of responsibility to rally impressions into baskets. And, rightly so. The work that advertising is doing is carrying part of the marketing load. But, not all of it. That's why defining the metric of each tool - as well as the marketing machine in total - is critical to improving results year over year.

    Let me go a little deeper there:

    Sometimes direct response advertising is aimed at just that - creating a direct response or immediate sale. Often, though, it has a more complex function of building awareness, engagement or proclivity.

    Essentially, it's readying the consumer for the closer - which could be a circular in your Sunday paper, an affiliate sale online, or a special discount or travel package. All of these are functions and budgets of marketing and they work in concert with advertising.

    Each also has a different way it talks about the brand, a unique call to action, a specific role.

    The whole thing delivers more sales. But defining the interim metrics of success (awareness, redemption, total basket, etc.) helps make sure that you have a clear view into what each piece is delivering (or not delivering).

    Apropos of this campaign, the inside scoop seems to be that the pre-defined metric was media mentions and that the work delivered as promised.

    Dilbert

    How can you possibly question whether upping the hotel room bookings should be the goal of advertsing for Asheville's tourism campaign? It's the ONLY goal of such a campaign. Everything else -- intent, awareness, consumer opinion -- is meaningless without actual ROI. That's the whole point of advertising and marketing -- social or otherwise. Who cares how cool the campaign is if it doesn't work? Business owners don't need more "irrelevant brilliance." They need us to help their organization grow.

    Leigh

    Great question, Smithy. Couple of responses:

    1- I don't work for either party involved; so, honestly, I don't know the real $ impact. I have heard anecdotally that it was a success all around. And certainly the number of mentions and number of attendees at rallies and whatnot suggest a measurable increase in awareness.

    2- This is a great illustration of why defining success up front is so hugely important. Certainly upping the hotel room bookings would be a goal of marketing. Something they'd accomplish through a multi-tiered plan that might include advertising, DM, discounts, etc. But should it be the goal of advertising? Are the two directly connected enough to form a logical metric?

    I'd say no. But it's definitely arguable both ways.

    So, I like that you asked about awareness. I think that's the metric and all evidence points to success, but, you caught me - I'm numberless!

    Smithy

    Clever, yes. Engaging, yes. Did Asheville book any more hotel rooms as a result of the campaign? How was awareness influenced? Any increase? Did they think it was successful enough to continue the campaign? Some results would really make a strong (or weak) case study. I'd love to know because I like the social elements.

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