In the world of marketing and direct communications there are many different factors that lead to success. Really strong strategic thought coupled with excellent implementation is an undisputed key that drives successful direct marketing campaigns. There are several ways to evaluate “Success” that are commonly used and particularly useless. Here are three:

  1. The campaign is deemed a success by everyone. Upper management loved the campaign and approved it––without any research by the way. The marketing department responsible for the new work loved the way it “all integrated with many types of media such as web, social, and mobile.” And others in the organization who had nothing to do with its creation loved it as well. Sounds like a winner doesn’t it? Not if the campaign didn’t have anything to do with what the organization’s customers need. In most cases, customers are the last to see a campaign and the first to ignore them. The reason is simple. They are not provided with the opportunity to give their input through objective research. That gives the campaign a 50/50 chance of success or failure.
  2. The creative is based on an energy burst, not strategy. All too often what passes as “creativity” is little more than rehashed ideas from a campaign someone saw another brand owner running. Linking a true strategy to a true creative execution is difficult and takes time and expertise that often is not pursued due to budget or time constraints. The creative process should come from more than visiting a web page or looking at a design annual for ideas. All too often this is the creative process that is used.
  3. The campaign is executed flawlessly. Implementing a multi-media campaign is difficult and complex work and often requires depth of management and analytics. Most campaigns are put into the market with exceptional skill but we all know most campaigns fail to produce their stated objectives. That’s why there is a constant flux of agencies getting fired and others hired. What’s ironic is the client rarely looks at themselves as the connectors but instead places the responsibility on the agency. I guess that’s what human nature does when put into a corner, but the hard fact is if a brand owner has hired and fired more than three agencies because they were “unsuccessful” it is typically because the brand strategy is flawed, not the agency.

These three ways to determine success and failure can be helpful if both the client and the agency are willing to take a long hard look at their accountability for the strategy and resulting brand’s success. A brand’s performance rarely has to do with just one dynamic; rather, it typically involves many dimensions, which is why the process is called strategic marketing. Understanding that the process is a strategic partnership can make all the difference if the client, agency and the customers are all given the opportunity to contribute.