The Fifth “P” of Marketing

Product, Place, Price, Promotion and PROBABILITY

We mean well. Marketing starts with science. We look at the consumer profile, their demographics and psychographics. Today we can geo-target our GRPs down to a 5 mile radius. Then comes the art.

We use our instincts to design ads to inspire consumers. We write copy that entices the reader to take action, based on our intuition. We place the right ad at the right time through the right medium. At least we think so.

Then we wait.

We focus on other things while our ads are running. Hopefully the ads are driving consumer behavior. Hopefully we will meet our sales objectives and get a nice bonus this year. Hopefully. . .

Whatever happened to the real-time data we were promised at last year’s marketing seminar? Why don’t our million Facebook fans actually “like” us? Let’s be honest. We don’t really know. Yet.

After the PowerPoint presentations and pages of data land on our desk, it’s filtered through our own bias or ignored. All of our deductive reasoning for developing “Big Ideas” is merely based on serendipity and personal opinion. After all our study of diverse populations and behaviors, we create one message to appeal to one particular person – ourselves.

So, we compensate by scientifically creating more ideas than we need, and eliminating the ones that we don’t personally like – the ones that don’t “test well.” Finally, we pick ONE campaign idea to launch. But, it’s really no different than the other ideas on the cutting room floor.

Let’s stop the madness.

Let’s start measuring. Let’s engage the science of marketing, and let’s use it to optimize our approach throughout the creative process of the campaign. Not just at the beginning and the end.

The creative department should not be excused from understanding the science or the sales numbers. But rather, their ideas should be held accountable to the measurement process.

If our target audience is more than one person, then let’s involve more than one person in the selection of our best messaging. Let’s design several ads like we always do, but this time, let’s run them all. What? Isn’t that costly?

Think about it. We spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in research and focus groups to predict what the consumer MIGHT do. But, with digital media and real-time engagement, we can watch them actually do what they WILL do. Today, the cost of digital media is actually less than the cost of a focus group.

Let’s watch our ads run like we are sitting behind the one-way glass of a research shop.

Let’s continue to run the ads that work, but let’s cut the ads that don’t work. Then let’s look back at our predictions and measure our results. Not annually, but weekly. Let’s build in probability to our model based on real-time consumer behavior. Let’s build in reaction models with variable advertising in the digital space.

This is not going to happen with business as usual. We have to assign roles, budgets and deadlines to measurement initiatives. We will need to shift media from unmeasured traditional toward measured digital buys. Change is hard, but we must.

If we start using digital media for what it was designed to do, it will require us to distribute more creative content to the market. The scientific method is a process of hypothesis and testing. Not gambling. Edison didn’t test one filament for the lightbulb. In his words, he “learned 1,000 ways that didn’t work.” Let’s try some different concepts. Let’s try some outrageous ideas. Let’s allow the creative team to run down foreign pathways. We’ll never know what we can do until we try.

2015 is the year of hypothesis and measurement. Let’s meet our sales objectives. And let’s get those big bonus checks.