a creative agency that takes care of healthcare brands
Dr Ryan Wallman
19 Aug, 2019

The way that some marketers talk about marketing, you’d think it was more complex than neurosurgery.

There is endless industry talk about automation, platforms, CRM, AI, AR, VR, ad tech, martech, machine learning, blockchain – the list goes on.

But in my opinion, all this stuff is at best peripheral and at worst irrelevant to the core function of marketing. In many cases, these tactics and tech-tics serve to make marketing far more complicated than it need be.

Much as it might threaten our collective ego to admit it, the truth is that marketing isn’t rocket science (and indeed some people argue that it isn’t a science at all). This is not to suggest that it’s easy – or that there’s no merit in newer technologies – but the fundamental principles of marketing are relatively simple.

Mark Ritson captured this point beautifully in his recent series of Effies campaign case studies, culminating in this pithy summary:

According to Mark, the “perfectly effective” marketing campaign is characterised by nine elements:

  • Diagnosis (qualitative and quantitative)
  • Clear strategic objectives
  • Long, mass-marketing branding
  • Shorter, targeted performance
  • Tight, differentiated positioning
  • Heavy, consistent codification (i.e. use of distinctive brand assets)
  • Greater investment than competitors
  • Astonishing creativity
  • Multiple integrated channels.

It’s as simple (albeit difficult to execute) as that. If you care about effectiveness, which admittedly doesn’t seem to be a given for some marketers, this list should be the reference point for all your marketing campaigns.

The problem, of course, is that it’s not sexy (no offence, Mark). It doesn’t involve any tech wizardry and it won’t be talked about at all the cool conferences. It doesn’t even include an acronym, FFS.

And that’s why it won’t appeal to everyone. As Dave Trott once said: “complicated seems clever to stupid people”. But smart marketers will embrace the simplicity of Mark’s approach, if they haven’t already.

And that spells good news for those of us on the agency side, because “astonishing creativity” is a crucial ingredient in the mix. Despite what some thought leaders and their thought disciples would have you believe, creativity can make a huge difference to the success of a campaign. It shouldn’t be some afterthought, slapped on to the tactics like cheap cologne.

Rory Sutherland was recently asked what he considered to be the biggest challenge facing Ogilvy in the next 10 years. His typically frank response was:

“I think that the whole advertising industry has totally lost the plot. It has become obsessed with that part of advertising which is a media targeting and optimisation process.”

The obvious solution is for agencies to focus on making great creative work. Simple, really.

Dr Ryan Wallman, Creative Director at Wellmark. Connect with me on LinkedIn