The not-so-secret route to boosting effectiveness

If you want to drive your business performance, you need an effectiveness roadmap. So what's that?

By jeremy lee

There was mixed news about marketing effectiveness from the IPA’s inaugural Effectiveness Culture Monitor released last week.

On the one hand the effectiveness culture looks strong both at agencies and brands (“at the surface level”, at least, the report said). But on the other, the IPA noted that there is significant work that can be done at a deeper level to boost business performance, most significantly through agencies and brands creating effectiveness roadmaps.

The IPA defines marketing effectiveness as: “The process of improving business performance from marketing activities, made easier and more impactful by people, technology, and a strong and clear focus.” While nearly half of respondents said that their organisation has a marketing effectiveness roadmap, 22 per cent do not and the rest are unsure.

Some agencies, of course, are better than others at creating effectiveness roadmaps and the IPA announced the names of 19 successful agencies, which had been given Effectiveness Accredited status. The benefits of an effectiveness roadmap are clear, with IPA figures showing that having one positively increases marketing effectiveness culture scores by 26 per cent.

But how do you create such a roadmap? We asked some of those agencies that had been awarded Effectiveness Accredited status by the IPA to share their advice.

Sue Unerman, chief transformation officer, and Jane Christian, managing partner and head of systems intelligence, MediaCom

“Effectiveness cannot and should not be left solely to the strategists and the econometricians any more than creativity should be the sole remit of the creative department; or diversity and inclusion left exclusively to the human resources team. It is the responsibility of every leader, and every putative leader, to own, to develop, to pioneer and to preach effectiveness in every organization. Silos kill progress. Wholebrain thinking, where creative skills and analytical skills are deployed in balance, is crucial to progress.

“Any business that fails to put effectiveness at its heart and through every muscle and sinew is shortchanging its clients, its shareholders, its customers, and its own future.”

John Harrison, head of effectiveness, BBH

“As Peter Drucker said: ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast’. So agencies need to ensure that effectiveness isn’t just something they ‘do’ every time IPA awards season comes round.

“This latest IPA initiative is helpful in shifting the focus from awards to culture. At BBH we say: ‘Effectiveness is our objective. Creativity is our strategy’. This mantra is so woven into the agency’s culture that it influences everything we do. For any agency wanting to develop an effectiveness roadmap, I’d suggest they start by interrogating and then articulating the reason they exist. If it isn’t fundamentally to improve the effectiveness of its clients’ communications, then no amount of strategy will ever really build an effectiveness culture.”

Andrew Perkins, group head of planning, VCCP

“’It Only Works If It All Works’ was the title of VCCP’s first ever IPA Effectiveness Awards Paper, the Grand Prix winner of 2004 for our founding client, O2.

“It’s a phrase that has been the informal slogan of the agency ever since, born from a belief that we create the greatest commercial and brand results for our clients by caring about how we show up through the whole customer experience.

“Turning the belief into reality requires continuously investing in our data capability and effectiveness training like the IPA Eff Test, bringing measurement earlier into the planning and creative process, and putting commercial and behavioural performance - rather than more spurious metrics - front and centre when we judge the impact of our work.”

Steven Richards, data partner, Wunderman Thompson

“The key to building an effectiveness roadmap is to build an effectiveness culture in your organisation (agency or brand). Otherwise, efforts to boost effectiveness can get lost in documents and artefacts that are never used to produce better and more effective communications.

“We believe the most inspiring and effective brands are those that are whole, and as an agency we apply this single brand view to the ever-increasing number of marketing channels. We do this by routing our goals for building an effective brand in what its communications needs to do when people are: living with a brand; buying a brand; and using a brand. From there, we plan for effective ideas, activate and then measure and refine them to make the biggest commercial or societal impact for our clients.”

Josh Bullmore, chief strategy officer, Leo Burnett

“Creating an effectiveness culture is a matter of nature and nurture. It needs to run in an organisation’s veins and be nurtured with training and process. At Leo Burnett effectiveness is in our nature – the legendary planner Simon Broadbent, a proud Burnetter, founded the IPA Effectiveness Awards. It is also something we carefully nurture to this day.

"We hire for experience and interest, develop skills across every team (not just planning) and embed effectiveness in all our work through our rigorous F Model. This plots a clear line of logic between campaign and commercial objectives, and feeds into live dashboards which allow us to monitor and optimise towards success. We are proud the strength of this culture has been recognised through the IPA’s recently launched Effectiveness Accreditation.”


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