Does creativity convert to an actual sale?

Peter FieldBrands need to focus on creativity and data if they want to see actual results says Peter Field in a post that first appeared in Encore, and there’s evidence to prove it.

There is a growing body of evidence to support a link between creativity and effectiveness so it wasn’t surprising to see that a report commissioned by the Association for Data-driven Marketing and Advertising on this very topic would turn up more evidence.

Using submissions for the 2012 ADMA awards we compared the patterns of effectiveness of those that won creative awards with those that did not.

The data showed that creativity has strong effects on brands, making them more salient and widely talked about. This in turn reduces their price sensitivity: people are prepared to pay more for brands that everyone is talking about. And, not surprisingly, this makes those brands more profitable – in time. And here’s the stumbling block: these benefits of creativity take time to develop. Price elasticity in particular is a long-term effect, really only becoming apparent after around six months. The immediate effect on sales volumes is similarly muted, but this too builds over time as the salience of the brand does.

In an impatient business world, hungry for quarterly results and seduced by the ‘big data’ promise of instant sales, these findings will not play well. You can hear the CEO’s response: “Well sod creativity, I’ll take the quick buck, thanks.”

And that would be a perfectly sensible response, but for one unfortunate other finding. The response-focussed campaigns that deliver the strongest short-term sales effects – those favoured by big data – underachieve considerably over the longer term. In particular they underachieve on price elasticity and therefore profitability growth. There is no such thing as a free lunch.

The answer, as many of the top-prize winning ADMA campaigns demonstrate, is to develop a highly creative brand campaign and surround it with an integrated suite of sales activation initiatives to drive short-term sales as the campaign gathers momentum.

Ideally those initiatives will not involve price promotions (which damage price sensitivity) – if they evoke the appeal of the brand campaign, they may succeed with less aggressive activation triggers. But even so, the real benefits of this ‘brand response’ approach will only be noticed by those wise enough to measure success over periods of more than six months and who aren’t entirely focussed on short-term sales. In today’s business climate, that too is quite a stumbling block.

Peter Field is a UK-based marketing consultant and author of the ADMA report The Link Between Creativity and Effective Marketing.
Issue 23This story first appeared in the weekly edition of Encore available for iPad and Android tablets. Visit encore.com.au for a preview of the app or click below to download.


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