While some events may serve as alternative distribution channels for product, the point to most events as part of a marketing program is typically to inject energy into a brand’s current marketing program. Very simply, the event must intensify:
- Relevance for past and potential brand users
- Differentiation through a linkage with the event
- Emotional attachment that makes the brand bigger
Relevance is THE word that seems to appear in all marketing discussions. The reason is simple. The attention span in a time-starved world is rapidly shrinking. No one pays attention to anything that is not personally relevant and people just do not have the bandwidth to make things relevant that don’t obviously fit with their present lifestyle. Events can force a pause in the daily routine. The excitement and transcendent nature of events can shift the context of how a past and potential brand user sees your brand.
Differentiation for a brand can be driven by the halo impression on event attendees and non-attendees. Events provide a torrent of communications with touch points for both attendees and many non-attendees. Each contact made is an opportunity for the brand to enhance its meaning through association with event attributes.
Events are emotional in nature. They force those who experience them to react in a big way. The emotional response is immediate. So, the real question for brands is whether the attachment from event to brand can be carried out the door once the event is over.
Events as marketing programs behave, in effect, as small campaigns. To deliver energy to the brand, the event must deliver relevance, differentiation and emotional attachment impact across all touch points individually and collectively. To measure this energetic infusion properly requires recognition of both the immediate, in-the-moment and the lasting impact of the event on the brand.
Because the dynamics of the marketplace are always changing, tracking is the best way to provide the necessary intelligence on current marketing position. Tracking enables marketers to structure future actions so that each brand’s potential is reached.
No matter how predictive the pre-testing or how sophisticated the market mix modeling, a number of different short-term, and often immediate, distortions can affect how your brand touch points ultimately perform:
- Competitive Activity – The mix of competitive marketing communications can confuse consumers and blur the message they receive.
- Threshold Effects – The campaign might not achieve sufficient exposure among part of the target audience to surpass the basic clutter threshold.
- Contamination – Other marketing actions can distort the advertising effect and influence the way people remember your brand promise.
So, the basic question remains: “Is your tracking service able to accurately tell you the worth of your individual and collective brand touch points?”
Specifically, your tracking must address the following questions before you can confidently say that it is telling you what your marketing programs are worth:
- Where are we?
First and foremost you need to understand the current Brandscape — where your brands are located and how they are perceived. Because tracking measures the brand in its competitive context it provides important intelligence on the current marketing position.
- How did we get here?
Most trackers monitor movement over time. Consequently with history we can explain how you have arrived at your current position.
- Where are we going?
This is where most trackers fall down. Tracking must have the ability to look forward. MSW has validated the use of a series of Customer Commitment Persuasion questions to deliver to this fundamental need.
- Where should we be?
Investigation of Brand Strength indicates the key aspect(s) that needs to be reinforced to promote Brand Health and volume. When taken together with an annual strategic study, tracking determines the key drivers of brand preference, i.e., those images and motives that drive future brand preference.
- Are we getting there?
Once strategy has been defined – tracking must report on the progress and determine whether any competitive action is inhibiting the attainment of this strategy and specific objectives. This is a business measurement, not an academic exercise. That means it must provide a return on investment analysis that is validated.
Tracking that delivers to these needs provides a key role to complement market mix modeling, ongoing analysis of database data, and other research in the marketing process. When tracking does not deliver to these needs, it represents little more than a routine report that no one really pays attention to.
The classic scientific approach indicates that one should always develop a hypothesis, then, determine how to measure and prove it. As I look across all the opinions that have been widely discussed since Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Blink” was first published, it is clear that marketing practitioners buy in to the hypothesis that brand choices are often made in an instant. The entire concept of branding means that brands are pre-loaded with unspoken motivators of consumer behavior. However, most brands are locked into traditional survey research which cannot capture these instant choices as they happen. The good news is that neuroscience now offers new tools that can be integrated into existing online research to measure the “blink” response to your brand.
Clearly, much is being learned, and very quickly, regarding effective measurement of the blink response. But, marketers who wait for a final answer on how to measure their brand’s blink response restrict their innovation pipeline and their ability to engage their markets. Those marketers who have embraced an approach are already differentiating their brands and witnessing organic growth from both their innovation pipeline and existing brands.
Here are some fast-track steps that marketers should be taking now to remain competitive and take full advantage of the blink opportunity.
- Incorporate response timing measurement into some of your routine studies.
Every brand team routinely conducts attitude and usage studies in much the same way that they have been done for 50 years. With online research, it is now easy to add a timing mechanism in that allows you to determine what is driving the blink response for every brand in the category. Pre-tested and post-tested communications that is checked for the blink response is much more effective in the current, ubiquitous, media marketplace. In each case, you will get a “wow” response from your brand team by providing new meaning to what might have formerly been perceived as a routine results presentation.
- Build a bridge for your brand team with traditional measures.
Most concerns about measures of blink response relate to an understanding of what brand teams can expect to get from the information. They already have an expectation for what they will receive from traditional, cognitive measures. And, they already have a database history of results to gauge best practices. Include the traditional measures with the blink response measures. The comparison and contrast will lead to insights that you would not receive from use of the cognitive results alone.
- Follow some critical steps for change management.
Most frequently, it is the person responsible for consumer insights that is most interested in adding blink response measures. Their bigger challenge is getting acceptance of these measures among their brand team. To make this process change happen:
- Break down the measures involved into simple metaphors (e.g. direction; acceleration; etc).
- Start with simple applications. The routine study step represents a low-risk trial approach.
- Communicate early, communicate often. Ensure that expectations are set and met with key decision-makers.
In the short time it took to write this blog, your market has blinked many times. Are you blinking with them?