Hold that thought – why marketers need to stop having so many new ideas

By Ellie Jackson, Chief Client Strategy Officer

People who work in marketing and communications tend to be ‘ideas people’. The appeal of the new shiny thing is considerable. But as an industry, this can sometimes cross the boundary from help to hindrance. 

Over the last year or so there’s been a growing chorus of voices, suggesting – based on empirical analysis – that the concept of ‘wear-out’ might be having undue influence on campaign planning. ‘Wear-out’ is simply the idea that advertising campaigns lose effectiveness over time, as consumers become bored by them and look for something new. 

But we must remember the first rule of marketing: think as your intended audience, not as yourself.  

If we put ourselves in the shoes of our clients and prospects, we’ll see two things. First, that we are rather more obsessed with the shiny new thing than they are, particularly in the industries we focus on here at Aspectus, where trust is fundamental as the stakes are typically high. Second – and perhaps more fundamentally, we’ll realize that we are much more likely to feel bored by long-running campaigns that we have been living and breathing for some time, compared to the intended audience who will engage with them only periodically, and with a lower intensity than we do. 

This analysis (particular h/t to Kantar, System1 and Analytic Partners, and recent commentary from Mark Ritson in Marketing Week) has been focused on the advertising industry – where some of the best effectiveness analysis takes place because that’s where the money is. But it’s worth thinking about how that could be applied more broadly across the marketing mix. 

Of course, when it comes to media relations, there is a requirement for activity to move with the news agenda. But while the specifics of a piece of content might change, it’s critical that there is consistency of message and theme over a longer period – otherwise you’ll never really get to be known for anything. Too often we see clients jump from one topic to another, or even one segment or broader strategy to another, without giving the campaigns a chance to take root. 

We must retain that audience lens – our clients and prospects are typically juggling a lot of competing priorities, they may not actively be in market for our services right now, and therefore we can only grasp a relatively small slice of their attention, and there is more noise coming at them than ever before. That pushes us to stick with themes for longer, but make them work and stretch harder, across multiple channels in creatively varying ways to catch attention. 

The added bonus to that, of course, is that you get more value from a single idea or flagship piece of content. And given the effort that goes into getting these things right, it’s critical to extract maximum value from them. So, invest more in marketing the idea, rather than constantly having a new one. 

If you’d like to talk about how to get messages to take root, or how to extract more value from your marketing content, then contact us

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