Tom Roach wrote an article for MarketingWeek titled Seven principles of effective marketing communication (October 5, 2021).

« Over time, consistent, distinctive stimuli create a network of associations which inform our behaviours, which psychologist and economist Daniel Kahneman called ‘The associative memory’. So a brand is actually a real, physical thing in our brain, a network of memories and associations. »

« System 1 decisions are ‘no-brainers’, they’re automatic with little cognitive effort. Our brains are lazy and are always looking to conserve energy by taking shortcuts. And brands work as shortcuts to people’s functional and emotional goals. So we need to make our brands no-brainers, not Lovemarks. »

« To do this we need to deliver consistently distinctive stimuli that can earn people’s attention, build brand memories and create an expectation that a brand will meet its goals. »

« But how? Here are seven fundamental principles of effective marketing communication that will always be true because they’re based on how our brains work, not on how any specific technology works. Sorry they’re not ‘new’, but that’s sort of the point. »

1. Reach.

« One of the few actual scientific laws of marketing is that a brand’s growth is driven primarily by acquiring new and light buyers… As Martin Weigel puts it: “Your brand’s health depends on lots of people who don’t know you well, don’t think of you much and don’t buy you often, if at all.” »

« Regardless of how technology changes our ability to target people, reaching beyond existing heavy buyers will always be essential. So remember your most important audience isn’t nearly as obsessed about your products as you are and don’t just speak to existing fans. »

2. Attention

« Loyal users will be primed to notice your communication anyway, so you’ll have to work harder to cut through the clutter with new or lighter buyers. »

3. Creativity

« Creative has repeatedly been found to be the strongest driver of sales and profitability, over and above media or targeting, by various studies from Nielsen, the IPA and others… I love this definition by technology strategist Faris Yakob, which reminds us that it doesn’t mean pure originality and that new ideas are always recombinations of existing ideas: “Good ideas are non-obvious, non-trivial, combinations”. »

« The ‘Von Restorff effect’, a theory coined by psychiatrist Hedwig von Restorff in 1933, that predicts when multiple similar things are presented, the one that differs most is more likely to be remembered… And yet there’s so much sameness in advertising today. »

4. Distinctiveness

« The core task for all marketing communication is to build and refresh memory structures that improve the chance of a brand being recalled first in decision making and buying situations. This in turn increases the chance of a brand being bought, in large part due to the ‘availability bias’, explored in the work of Kahneman and Taversky in the 1960s and 70s. »

« Distinctive brand assets help create the memory structures that are the frame of reference… Having a strong set of distinctive brand assets results in ‘a brand looking like itself’, according to Byron Sharp. »

5. Consistency

« In order to strengthen and reinforce brand memories, your communication needs to be consistently distinctive. Byron Sharp says: “You cannot be distinctive if you are not consistent.” But consistency is probably one of the most commonly ignored principles of great communication. The temptation for new CMOs and agencies to change everything is usually just too strong. »

« Consistency is more profitable than inconsistency. In an analysis of 1,500 campaigns by Ebiquity, long-running distinctive brand campaigns were found to deliver ROIs +62% versus the rest. Ebiquity also found that second and third bursts of campaigns on average generate ROIs 30% higher than the first burst, as they build on the brand recognition scores initially achieved. »

6. Emotion

« “Communications evoking emotional responses have better attention, deeper processing of the content, better memory-encoding and retrieval”, according to Phil Barden… Some kind of emotional reaction is necessary in order to achieve a behavioural response to any kind of stimulus… Beware talking about ‘rational’ versus ‘emotional’ ads – always think about emotion as a consumer response to communication, not an executional input into it. »

7. Motivation

« ‘Emotion’ is actually not what motivates people in communication. Motivation is aided by including something that reinforces what the brand helps you to achieve.  »

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