Proof of creativity will be seen in stars

Awards will measure this tough variable, says Sally Stanley

Edith Bowman at last year's award ceremony
Edith Bowman at last year's award ceremony

The Marketing Society Scotland Star Awards 2015 were recently launched under the theme Proof Prevails.

This theme has been chosen in recognition of the fact that the biggest challenge faced by marketers is in demonstrating the value of marketing within the organisations they serve.

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By its very nature, creativity is not a finite commodity; rather, it is an infinite variable. The purchase and evaluation of creative development services can never be an exact science, although pre-campaign evaluative tools are widely deployed to enhance the likelihood of success. The expertise of a creative assessor in the form of an experienced qualitative researcher should never be underestimated or the research phase in the creative development process be neglected. I also hold to the opinion that good marketers can inherently distinguish between good and weak creative,.

Beyond creativity, another consideration which causes consternation among the marketing community is the internal demand for short-term impact. Very often, the timelines during which marketing is seeking to influence consumer or target audience behaviour is longer term than within the confines of a solitary financial year. In those circumstances, the potential for fund access becomes challenging and marketers have to be able to communicate the rationale for investment persuasively and with expertise.

To compound the challenge further, marketing investment is effectively wholly discretionary and often represents a higher risk to management teams compared to other investment purposes.

Additionally, isolating the impact of marketing from a plethora of associated marketplace variables is not easy and while some marketers may benefit from econometric evaluative tools, the majority will not; thus many need to find alternative means of evaluation.

All of this presents marketing practitioners with considerable challenges within their organisations to ensure that marketing achieves an appropriate share of investment.

Nevertheless, it is overwhelmingly the responsibility of marketers to develop strategy, plan and implement their work in a structured manner, such that the objectives are clearly understood and the output can best be measured.

Over the years, methodologies for the evaluation of marketing activities have become increasingly sophisticated. There will be few brand owners operating in fast moving consumer goods (FMCG), for example, who do not invest in continuous brand health tracking using appropriate quantitative studies. Due to the relatively high level of marketing investment in FMCG categories, continuous tracking is essential.

Perhaps also, the fragmentation of media has aided marketing evaluative techniques, notably in the sphere of social media, where participant interaction can be measured virtually any which way.

Still, only the minority of marketers in Scotland are in the position of managing multi-million-pound marketing budgets or benefitting from data analysis, research and insight services on a daily basis.

Whatever the scale of the business or organisation represented, it is the marketer’s duty, together with agency support, to ensure that all marketing activities have defined and measurable objectives prior to any campaign initiation and that the evaluative techniques are agreed in advance.

In recognition of this continuous requirement to validate marketing investment, the theme of Proof Prevails has been adopted as the Marketing Society’s theme for the 2015 Star Awards. This aligns perfectly with the Marketing Society’s vision of helping to build a world leading marketing community in Scotland.

On the awards themselves, there are five principal categories of strategic, development, communication, sector and champions, each of which feature a variety of related awards opportunities which reflect the breadth of marketing talent being delivered daily from a Scottish base. The entry deadline is 15 February.

Sally Stanley is Group Strategic Development Director for Highland Spring Group and Chair of The Marketing Society Star Awards