AME Advisory Council member and Global Brand, Marketing and Creative Consultant Saul Betmead de Chasteigner is the former senior marketer at the United Nations World Food Programme, the world’s largest humanitarian organisation and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate 2020. Prior to joining the UN, he was Chief Strategy Officer for VMLY&R in EMEA and CSO WPP special projects. At VMLY&R he sat on the Global Executive board, Global Creative Board and Global Strategy Board.
He brings decades of experience to AME's Advisory Council as well as numerous accolades for his results-driven work. Saul co-authored the 2016 D&AD, Multiple Cannes Grand Prix winning McWhopper idea for Burger King, the 2015 Cannes Media Grand Prix, Global WARC Innovation winning ‘Red Light’ idea for Vodafone Turkey, and most recently the Cannes Glass Grand Prix 2019 & Cannes Titanium 2019 winning Last Ever Issue, Gazeta.pl. In 2019 Saul gave his first TedX talk, where he explored ‘What makes a great idea?’. He is a graduate of Oxford University with a Masters in Strategy & innovation.
In this AME Awards Inside Effectiveness thought leadership piece, Saul Betmead de Chasteignershares his roadmap for effectiveness honed from years of delivering award-winning innovative and effective work on behalf of prominent global brands.
What is effective marketing? How do you do it?
Important questions for any organisation trying to convince people to engage with what they are selling, whether it be product, service or cause. Given how much time, effort and resource goes into marketing, you’d think there would be more case studies of how to do it well than there are.
Having been an effectiveness case author, judge and jury president, I have seen my fair share of both amazing but also really average cases. Making genuinely effective work and then proving you have done it in a compelling way is very hard to do.
But here’s the thing: what the most effective cases have in common is precisely what the weaker ones lack. Since identifying those things gives powerful clues as to how to maximise effectiveness, here is how I’d sum up the three main principles:
Create a logical flow of effects
Genuinely effective work seamlessly connects the commercial objectives, the desired market performance and the desired behaviour change with the activities designed to deliver. It creates a logical flow of effects to and from the desired commercial performance change. It also measures and reviews those effects, and is wiling and able to adapt, to evolve when the need arises.
Be creative at every step, not just for the creative idea and execution
Effective marketing seeks to challenge, to interrogate the problem and the opportunity at every step. It is creative throughout the whole process, not just at the ideation and execution stages. It pulls together a powerful story: one that builds, that resolves, with challenges, with revelations, with answers.
Be performance-driven and human-inspired
Effective marketing is a science, one that accepts and works with the paradoxical nature of human behaviour, and is therefore able to combine two fundamentally different things: it is both performance-driven (logical, predictable, measurable) and human-inspired (playful, experimental, creative).
That’s how it breaks through, how it delivers impact, how it outsmarts the competition and wins. The challenges of doing all three of these principles begin to explain why so many cases don’t shine, why so many struggle, why the rare ones that do, really stand out and have powerful impact.
But how do you consistently do all three? For that I think you need a fourth principle:
Simple works. Complex fails.
Given the amount of variables, given the potential possibilities that exponentially arise, especially as you get into creative ideas and experiences, the level of complexity rises to a point where it gets unwieldily and quite frankly overwhelming.
The only way I have found that works is to break it down into manageable, simpler chunks. Create constraints at every step, dramatically restricting the focus of what each step is trying to do. One that, as it builds, helps iron out the problems, embellish the opportunities. It’s a process shaped over many years, over many successes and failures, many experiments, learning from others in and out of the marketing world.
It’s a process I always return to when trying to think things through, whether it’s working on a campaign, reviewing or building a case.
I have called it a story of effectiveness. It can and should tell a compelling story of cause and effect.
Step 1: Desired Commercial Performance Change
This might seem obvious, but it isn’t where a lot of marketing effectiveness thinking begins.
It often begins further down, in the desired market performance change or desired behaviour change. This has two problems: firstly, because the translation into commercial performance isn’t defined, you may not be focusing on the right change later, and secondly, because if you can’t show the link between the commercial performance and the audience's behaviour, it’s harder to present the case for further investment, especially at a board level.
Starting here binds the business objective to the marketing strategy and execution. Commercial performance will often be: Revenue change (change in units sold x unit price), Margin change (change in % of revenue that is profit), or Asset value (including intangible assets like brand).
Step 2: Desired Market Performance Change
How do you translate the commercial objectives into something tangible? How do you make it practical, useful to the following steps? There are a number of ways of defining market performance, but it’s hard to look past these as basic levers:
How many people buy your brand, out of how many potential buyers? (Total category buyers, percentage of buyers who buy your brand). The focus is put on market penetration and acquisition.
What do they buy? (How many times a year does each buyer buy, how many do they buy, how much do they pay for each one). The focus is put on retention and loyalty: it’s about the revenue per customer/ per transaction.
Step 3: Desired Behaviour change
For this, I find it easier to work backwards: it forces you to look for insights and ideas that can unlock the behaviour change you want.
Start with who needs to do what, by when (how does market performance step translate into the specific job to be done?).
Then find how to reframe what the audience currently thinks, feels and behaves to help tackle the job to be done. Interrogating the drivers to harness and the barriers to address.
Find an idea that binds everything together, can help organise and address the driver and barrier insights.
This then flows into action: what needs to be done, how, where and when it needs to happen, which then defines the shape of the experience the audience is offered (and of course how the results are to be measured).
Step 4: Measuring Change, testing the theory
Effectiveness is measured in how the indicators build back up. More obviousness, but as the journey you take the audience on gets traction, the changes you defined on the right side flow back up on the left. This system allows for review and adaptation. These are experiments, theories to be tested, to be checked and changed.
This is therefore where measurement is critical. If the work has been done on the way down, the indicators for the market performance and for commercial performance should be clear enough. The harder part is in finding the pre-cursors to that behaviour and have the measurements in place - the bottom part of the triangle.
I find it easiest to think about it like this: what will get people’s attention? What will make them curious? Intrigued? The competition for attention is everything else in their lives, and that’s an incredibly high bar.
For me it starts simply - to get attention, it needs to be rewarding in some way for the audience. And to be rewarding it must be a combination of inspiring, entertaining and useful to them. Measuring attention is not easy, but it starts with answering a simple question: if I got their attention, what would be the result? It’s searches, it’s website traffic, it’s media coverage of the topic/idea, it’s proper engagement with social media.
This system, this story of effectiveness might not be easy to implement, but it’s a process that, if followed, can help not only design better marketing (and highlight what’s missing, what needs work), but then give structure to the case that proves its worth.