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CODAR - Open Planning is set to revolutionise marketing communications

Why read this? Because one change will transform your marketing. This paper, written by Professer Angus Jenkinson for The Marketing Society, provides a simple yet profound solution to the problem of fragmented marketing communications.

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Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the shadow

TS Eliot, The Hollow Men (1925)

TS Eliot’s bitter evocation of the challenge of realising human aspirations is painfully relevant to marketers. Given so many brilliant minds, so much human empathy, so much skill, why is marketing communication so fragmented it is planned in silos? And even when planning gets the parties together, why is evaluation across the mix so difficult? How do you cross the performance threshold to truly joined up marketing? This paper, based on research by the Centre for Integrated Marketing, provides a simple yet profound solution. It also explains why we have not solved the problem before and describes a sample tool, CODAR, that does.

Once you get past the really big issues – mass poverty, brutal regimes and environmental pillage (and of course we haven’t yet) – the challenges of human life and society concern finding meaning, value, entertainment and sustenance.

That is our business.

As marketers we are engaged in a powerful and significant act: creating and communicating value and worth. Brands matter when they matter – and many of them matter a great deal to many people.

An ad, a product and service all communicate and are as effective as the value they communicate. Together they are the media of our craft.

Marketing communication is therefore not restricted to stuff in ‘media’, the conventional advertising mix. Rather, everything that conveys a message is a medium.

This involves engaging everyone and everything: from designers to process managers to frontline, from strategic positioning to product and service policy, from induction to performance evaluation, from TV to telephone, packaging to web.

For example, Innocent has been outstandingly successful in developing its pure drinks brand on the strength of superb packaging, retail channel management and product innovation, with conventional advertising a late and modest follower. Indeed, its ‘advertising’ often takes the form of innovative Innnocent activities, such as sponsoring local councils to open more cycle lanes. British Gas is investing heavily in human culture and CRM systems and processes to support and enable broadcast advertising.

Guidant, the leading medical technology firm, is training its managers in coaching skills to empower its frontline staff. Duchy Originals sees its engagement with product development and production partners as crucial to maintaining its ‘originality’ and brand success. Meanwhile Coke maintains its lead less by product innovation than by superb advertising and distribution management.

Nothing could therefore be more important than tools that enable effective communication planning and evaluation across the entire channel spectrum, whatever the mix that belongs to the strengths of the brand.

The search for tools

Good marketers know this. Indeed research shows that enhancing marketing communications planning and evaluation is one of the most important themes on the minds of senior marketers on both the client and agency side.

Under a variety of labels including integrated communication planning, total communications, media or channel neutral planning, and 360 degree branding, companies have been trying to develop tools and methods to enable genuinely effective optimisation and accurate evaluation across the communications mix. This push is driven not only by the negative problems of media fragmentation and communications clutter but also by positive aspirations.

Marketers want marketing integration and realisation of media and discipline effects as well as efficiency gains from effectively harmonised, mixed-media communications planning.

These aspirations and tools do enable us to do some things well (if we want).

For example:

We know we need to be business focused. So supermarkets look at the ROI of store refits, brand TV, regional press and so on. Leading consultancies, such as ATG, and agencies and brands like Tesco develop econometric models that show relationships between spend and sales.

Cheltenham and Gloucester assessed cricket sponsorship versus TV spend. Having said that, recent research by the Centre for Integrated Marketing1 suggests that evaluation is managed as a learning discipline in only 19% of large UK firms, leaving some room for improvement.

We know we need to understand our customers/audiences (we often don’t but we could). For example Sainsbury and SEEBOARD Energy have developed detailed typologies of their customers. However, the same research by the Centre suggests that quality information about customers for all who need it is provided in less than 10% of large UK companies.

We know we need to understand customer experience and redesign to enhance value, so we have developed tools such as 'Stepping Stones’, 'Touchpoints' and 'Clover Leaf' that show the business effect of enhanced customer value. However, the research by the Centre suggests that only 31% of large companies are good at realising high value propositions from idea to implementation, while the alignment of business processes to the brand value position is only strongly achieved in about 19% of large UK companies.

We know the quality of commitment or loyalty determines value and have excellent tools like WPP’s BrandZ and Research Survey’s Commitment model that quantify these and their effects to inform planning for both one-to-one and broadcast advertising.

We know we then need to tailor communications according to the type of relationship. For example Diageo uses the (Rejectors), Availables, Acceptors, Adopters and Adorers model to plan communication while MindShare uses 3D to plan around Familiarity, Consideration, Delivery, Preference and Commitment.

However, the Centre’s research suggests that treating customers in ways appropriate to them is strongly achieved by less than 40% of large UK companies, with less than 10% being effective in recognising customers wherever they interact with the brand.

We know that we need big, media neutral ideas, such as Mini’s ‘Mini Adventure’, to give coherence to integrated communications, and have good skills in developing these, even if only some 30% of UK companies are really successful in implementing the practice.

We know we need to understand media consumption and contact effectiveness. So we use diary studies or insights techniques such as Integration’s MCA or Carat’s Cognitive Tracking to assess the way they work and their relative impact.

We know we need to mix our media effectively, so tools like MindShare’s AdMix help to select the best mix according to the criteria given. And competent marketers and their agencies can point to positive ROI, brand results and effective work, although our research at the Centre suggests that less than 40% of customers of large UK companies are really happy with the
brand experience.

So, while we need to use these and other techniques better, at least we have these skills and tools. Yet, in one key area, we still don’t even have good enough tools or thinking.

Despite many innovations, there remain significant and widely acknowledged problems in planning and evaluating harmonised and optimised collaboration across the full scope of communications channels. Present tools do not create an open and level playing field during planning, limit creative execution and severely hamper cross-channel evaluation.

Every intelligent marketer is aware of this genuinely difficult challenge as well as the current problem, which is probably contributing to the way marketers are losing their places in boardrooms (8 in the FTSE 100 according to the CIM’s recent survey) and in their relative pay scales (senior marketers earn less than most of their senior peers today, a reversal of the previous generation). Our estimate is that failure to solve this effectively is costing UK industry some £4 billion to £10 billion a year.

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