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Knowing What Works
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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When pitching a new idea, concept, or the latest creative to our team and clients, it is easy to fall into the trap of saying that the next campaign or creative will work because "we know it will."

We know and have heard many of our colleagues say and do the same. Yes, it is prevalent in the advertising industry; young and old professionals like to claim that because they are blissfully creative and blissfully old, they know what works and what doesn't work.

Truth is, some do know, but many don't.

Advertising is always under attack when it comes to "streamlining" expenses unless we in the industry can prove to the C-Suite that our activities work. That is why we often fall into the trap of exclaiming that our activities are "guaranteed" to work. When advertising is under attack, we resort to absolutes.

Or, we cave in to the C-Suite and show creative to groups of consumers to help in the advertising process. But that's even worse; multiple research studies suggest that consumers know as much about consumer choice and preference as we do — which isn't much.

So much goes into how and why consumers make decisions, it is difficult for marketers and advertisers to pinpoint single points and be successful. Even the most well-known campaigns, when we actually look at customer conversion rates, are across the board in terms of "success," meaning an increase in sales or revenue. For example, there is research out there that suggests the very first decision a consumer makes becomes the jumpoff point to all their successive decisions. So if our consumer research misses the first decision the consumer made, we are bound to formulate a strategy based on misleading information.

How could we know what works?

Marketing and advertising, we believe, are truly an art and a science. And there is nothing wrong with that. Now with data analytics thrown into the mix, we are growing our understanding of consumer behavior, and the effects advertising has on the commercial landscape.

With all of these tools, can we honestly say that we can walk into a pitch and say that we know this will work? Not quite, but we're getting there.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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