FPRA 2012 Annual Conference: Breakout 3C Advertising. Making the Fun Last, Steve Smith

2012 Breakout 3C: Advertising. Making the Fun Last
by Tamara Herchel

This morning’s dynamic and informative speaker, Steve Smith, examined the credibility problem that marketing professionals face and offered seven tips for producing effective advertising and building credibility within organizations, while making the process more fun than threatening.

In keeping with the theme of credibility, Smith offered first a brief history of his marketing experience: After growing up in Jacksonville and graduating from Florida State University (a fact this Gator girl will reluctantly overlook!) Smith went on an advertising and marketing adventure throughout the country until he found himself charged with building the market share for Enterprise Rent-a-Car. Smith’s standout approach to advertise that Enterprise would pick their customers up took the organization from a little-known organization to the largest rental car company in the U.S. in 10 years.

After two decades with Enterprise, Smith “semi-retired” from the company to build Markalyst Consulting Group, which offers custom branding and marketing solutions to organizations of all sizes. He and his team bring marketing teams to their full potential by identifying and prioritizing key metrics within an organization that marketing can and should drive.

The credibility issues that marketing professionals face at this time are directly related to trust. While we in the industry know we’re working hard to make our brand recognized and our employers successful, they question the wisdom behind our marketing decisions. And the numbers don’t help to support our cause- Smith points out that 85% of marketing promotions are unprofitable; that 31% of marketing projects are cancelled before their implementation and generally cost over 50% more than their projected budgets; and that 55% of marketing professionals have failed to define clear objective for their campaigns.

Smith offers seven tried-and-true steps for marketers to combat these numbers and build credibility within their organizations:

1. Define the job to be done.   Ask yourself which business challenges marketing must overcome to be successful? Are there opportunities to seize? Problems that marketing must solve?

Identify these things first and from there work to reach a consensus on how they will be addressed. Smith notes that he has not yet encountered an organization that reaches a consensus from the outset; it’s one of the challenges of this first step toward a successful campaign.

2. Develop a Marketing Plan. Organize your marketing plan around consumer behavior, identify how the brand will intersect with customers and clearly state objectives and initiatives in a way that is easily communicated by the marketing teams. Make sure your plan is easily understood by people outside the marketing department. Be mindful of your length; Smith’s marketing plans are generally one page.

3. Justify Objectives. Consideration= equity marketing; conversion= retail marketing; and commitment= loyalty marketing. Use fact-based research to determine which of these three will be your objective.

4. Justify Strategies. Again- use fact-based research to choose your approach and

5. Justify executions correspondingly to activate your strategies and implement your plan.

6. Measure your efforts. Knowledge is power. Conducting research and using to abide by its findings is the difference between smart and stupid. Knowing and guessing. In other words, the difference between success and failure!

7. Report wins and losses.  Finally, it’s important to voice your results. Don’t be shy about disclosing failures; lies and deception cannot be tolerated because they could further damage your credibility. Conversely, don’t be shy about celebrating successes either!

Remember that everyone believes they’re an expert in marketing. Taking ownership of marketing could cause the organization to disown you. By being inclusive, systematic, and transparent you can lead marketing initiatives much more effectively.

Smith went on to provide sample ads for our review. Because most people who create ads are concerned about the wrong reasons, it was a valuable exercise in identifying whether the examples were unique, persuasive and conveying the right message. Because ads have to be fundamentally intrusive to break through mental clutter to even warrant attention, evaluating these ad samples was a great way to identify different approaches to do just that.

We learned that many products fall into two categories- it’s a unique product, and the ad must tell the story of how; or the product itself is not unique, and the ad must use the delivery of its story to stand out. Celebrity endorsements and special characters may help a not-so-special product shine, but those elements could easily be viewed as distractions when trying to convey a unique feature of a particular brand or product.

Smith continued to stress the importance of evidentiary support and fact-based strategies as the keys to building a successful campaign and capturing market share. Testing is critical to determine whether our marketing efforts are on the right track: 95% of advertisements are not tested and prove to be a waste of valuable time and financial resources.

As marketers, it’s important to remember that we are buying, not ad space, but customers!

While everyone may capture lightning in a bottle once, it’s difficult to maintain success without implementing fact-based decision making and workplace analytics; it’s what’s best not only for the marketing teams but the brands they represent.

*In the spirit of Smith’s session “Making the Fun Last,” I had a wonderful opportunity to chat with him after the breakout session and address one of the questions from a session attendee. As many of his solutions can cost upwards of a million dollars, the question regarded small business marketing solutions: How can small businesses implement testing initiatives with little to no resources?

In addition to Smith’s suggestion that online testing can be an affordable way to generate research findings, we discussed the fact that fellow session attendees had remarkable observational skills. Based on their ability to recognize advertising distractions, which ads would work for particular markets and so on, Smith encourages us to take advantage of our unique, talented and critically-thinking network of colleagues to form peer review panels to share ideas and solicit feedback. May be a great idea for next year’s conference — bring samples of our work for peer review!

Operating as Markalyst in Daytona Beach, Fla., Steve Smith is an enterprise growth advisor. Prior to Markalyst,
he worked at Enterprise Holdings Inc. where, as vice president and chief marketing officer, Smith was responsible
for marketing strategies and tactics for the company’s brands throughout the Americas and Europe. During his decades at Enterprise Holdings, Smith provided the company with the innovative thinking and leadership that took Enterprise Rent-A-Car, the company’s crown jewel, from a little-known brand to one of the most recognized in North America and Europe.

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