Why Theo felt aghast – the answer to a great conundrum

A copywriter asks why so much copy doesn’t even try to sell: here is the answer

Theo has been working in a job where he has to get sales. As he was pretty good at it, he thought he’d try freelance copywriting.

So like any intelligent person he did his research, to see what sort of copy people are running.

He was puzzled and wrote to me at AskDrayton.com with this question:

Hi! Is it normal to feel aghast to see ad agencies that seem to be more focused on winning awards or to see ad competitions done for “the most creative and strategic blah blah blah” with absolutely no mention of how much sales they brought in for their client? I almost feel like a fish swimming against the flow.

This is a slightly longer version of my reply:

OK, Theo, you have stumbled on one of the great truths – and ironies – of the ad business.

The only time most agencies worry about the results is if the client worries about the results.

In many large organisations people don’t. And if they do they may measure the wrong things.

Wondering why? Wonder no more.

Here is my favorite research over recent years, based on a survey of billions of $$$ worth of marketing, worldwide

90% of marketers are not trained in Marketing Performance & Marketing ROI
67% don’t believe marketing ROI requires a financial outcome
64% use Brand Awareness as their top marketing ROI KPI
58% place “Likes”, “Tweets”, “Clicks” and/or “Click Through rates” in their Top 5 marketing ROI KPIs
31% believe measuring audience reached is marketing ROI
“Every Tom, Dick & Harry is a Marketer” lacking scientific and financial knowledge.
—  Fournaise Marketing Group Global Marketing Effectiveness Program Report, 2014

What do Fournaise know? Well, they measure the effectiveness of over two and a half million advertising strategies each year all over the world.

KPI is the abbreviation for one of those pompous phrases that make marketers think they are doing something important. It stands for Key Performance Indicators. The only KPI you should care about is simple: does it make money?

ROI means Return On Investment. How much money you get back for the money you put in. The more you get back, and the faster it comes back the better you are doing.

The truth is that unless a client’s business depends on measurable results – money in, money out – agencies don’t care. They want ads that look good, or are clever. The kind that win awards. The kind they can boast about.

They never get round to learning about that really works in terms of ROI – unless their jobs depend on it.

Well, the people they deal with at their clients are also interested in their jobs. They tend to be most interested in getting promoted. And they get promoted if their bosses – who are as ignorant as them – see them running clever ads. So they end up running showy stuff that doesn’t necessarily sell.

You don’t want people saying “What a great ad”. You want them saying “What a great product – I must buy it.”


About the Author


<p>In 2003, the Chartered Institute of Marketing named Drayton one of 50 living individuals who have shaped today’s marketing.</p>
<p>He has worked in 55 countries with many of the world’s greatest brands. These include American Express, Audi, Bentley, British Airways, Cisco, Columbia Business School, Deutsche Post, Ford, IBM, McKinsey, Mercedes, Microsoft, Nestle, Philips, Procter & Gamble, Toyota, Unilever, Visa and Volkswagen.</p>
<p>Drayton has helped sell everything from Airbus planes to Peppa Pig. His book, Commonsense Direct and Digital Marketing, out in 17 languages, has been the UK’s best seller on the subject every year since 1982. He has also run his own businesses in the U.K., Portugal and Malaysia.</p>
<p>He was a main board member of the Ogilvy Group, a founding member of the Superbrands Organisation, one of the first eight Honorary Fellows of the Institute of Direct Marketing and one of the first three people named to the Hall of Fame of the Direct Marketing Association of India. He has also been given Lifetime Achievement Awards by the Caples Organisation in New York and Early To Rise in Florida.</p>

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