In Marketing Priority #1 Is Effectiveness

Effectiveness, not efficiency, should always be the primary concern

Machiavelli famously wrote: “It is best to be both feared and loved; however, if one cannot be both it is better to be feared than loved.”

For years I’ve been arguing a similar point: It is best to be effective and efficient, but if you have to choose, it is better to be effective than to be efficient.

The recent discussion about “total market” solutions is a very good step in the right direction—looking at the totality of consumers and not dividing them into arbitrary silos—but a lot of the focus seems to be on “efficiency.” Perhaps this is the game changer we are waiting for and we should look for increased effectiveness rather than efficiency.

The dictionary says:
• “effective”: noun—the degree to which something is successful in producing a desired result; success
• “efficient”: adjective—(especially of a system or machine) achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense

Or, like I used to say in my classes: Effective is to get it done; efficient is to get it done with the minimum of resources. Bottom line: “Getting it done” comes first. If you are not successful in achieving your objectives, then it really doesn’t matter if you fail using the minimum resources—you still failed.

There are three things one must do before one can have a “total market” solution:

• Have accurate consumer insights that would allow us to divide consumers into coherent groups
• A message that really leverages these insights and transform them into persuasion
• The ability to segregate these messages so that each group gets the most appropriate message with a minimum of crossover into other groups

I think most marketing people would agree that the more specific we are with each group’s insights, the stronger the communication would be. The question is: Is it worth it—is there an ROI in there somewhere?

And the issue is more practical than theoretical. Think about the following very specific situations:
• Home Depot has, essentially, the same campaign for Hispanics as they have for the general market
• Cadillac is considering a “global campaign” that will aim at U.S. and Chinese buyers

For simplicity’s sake, let’s just take a national U.S. campaign for our Mythical Burgers joint and consider three scenarios:
• One in which we use the same basic campaign all over
• Another in which we create several spots to address a few distinct groups
• And one in which we add a Hispanic layer (for obvious reasons)

Basic Parameters

Mythical Burgers sells $200 million a year, with an average ticket of $6, and it is in Florida, New York and Los Angeles.

This is what it looks like:

Mythical Burgers Table

So, every year slightly more than 33 million people parade through Mythical Burgers’ doors and spend $6.

In order to keep it simple, let’s avoid strategic issues such as geographic differences (Angelenos spend way less than others, considering the cost of living in L.A., so that could be a growth area; or the issue of television only versus a real media mix, etc.). Let’s focus on effectiveness versus efficiency.