Delivering your campaign is just as important as planning it. Chris Arnold, strategic and creative director of Symple, offers advice on how to deliver your message with the maximum impact.
I've spent many hours on buses listening to people talk about politics, television, films, celebrities, the environment, how eggs have gone up in price... But I’ve never heard anyone talk about advertising. So why doesn’t Mrs Jones on the W3 talk about ads?
The simple answer is because most of it's boring. The great adman David Ogilvy once said: “No one buys from a dull salesman.” So what's the secret of not falling into that pool of dullness, clichés and wallpaper?
'Know your enemy' is the motto of most generals. 'Know your consumer' is mine. I always recommend clients take the lift from the 22nd floor of the Ivory Tower to the street and mingle with their customers. Going back to the shop floor is a good starting point.
When I worked on a car account the salesman in the showroom had a far better understanding of customers than the marketing department, whose only contact was via a research group. The salesman also understood the emotions of the buyer; the marketing department only the rationale.
Creativity and emotional engagement
The main reason for being creative is to emotionally engage people. We're competing against thousands of sales messages a day and being too logical is dull and dull doesn’t grab people. So you need to engage them with a powerful message.
Does your advert make people go WOW!, OOH!, AAH! or HA HA!? Don't forget the saying: 'Before you get a response you first need a reaction.'
Most purchases are driven more by emotion than logic. Understanding the difference is critical. I use a simple polar diagram called the R&E line (rational to the left, emotional to the right). I then track the customer journey along it. Customer picks up a great piece of mail, reads it – emotional response. Having been engaged they may want more information. They go to the website, so it needs to be more functional.
Print and materials
What you print on is also important. It can show a customer how much you care; it displays your ethos. If you're selling quality, cheap print might cheapen your brand. Tactility is often overlooked – ask yourself how your piece feels?
There are many innovative print techniques and materials available. My favourite is thermo-chromatic ink, which responds to temperature. I always recommend getting your print and production teams in early at the briefing stage as sometimes they'll come up with interesting ideas exploiting new methods or materials.
Response and measure
The web is the great friend of direct mail. URLs allow us to track degrees of response via the web very easily. It’s simple to set up unique URLs that allow you to measure response to different creative, offers and even days dropped.
But make sure there's a value to your numbers – it’s easy to be seduced by stats that have no value. Don’t make the measurable important. Make the important measurable.
With digital print you can also now tailor your message (and provide personalised URLs), which gives you more ways to test different ideas. One word of warning: test what makes a big not a small difference. Old-school thinking, such as different colour headlines, telephone number on the left, on the right, in different fonts, will make a tiny difference. New school, such as testing different strategies, different creative ideas, offers, media mixes, will make double-digit differences.
Use your data carefully
This has become one of the most sensitive words of the age. We're all concerned about data abuse and hate being sold at. Respecting people’s privacy and treating their data with respect is becoming as important a part of corporate social responsibility (CSR) as environmental issues.
Using data well is also just good business sense. Gone are the days of quantity; smart marketers go for smaller, high-quality target groups. With the growing sophistication of data analysis it’s much easier to hit the bull's-eye.
Environment and ethics
There are few hotter subjects in the print world and CSR than the environment. And even if you aren’t green yourself, you’ll soon need to be to win any tender. All government contracts and major brands now look at your environmental behaviour, as does the consumer. Direct mail is an easy target of the greens, although it’s less of a landfill issue than packaging and newspapers.
It’s important to use data responsibly and print on more environmentally-friendly papers. I always recommend the most popular brand, Revive, as it has a broad range and it now costs no more to print on recycled papers. And don’t forget to encourage customers to recycle the pack afterwards.