Clients: sometimes you have to do the hard stuff

Sometimes the solution to your marketing issue isn’t a new logo, some pretty pictures or a witty but meaningless slogan or campaign endline.

I’m being facetious, of course, because it hardly ever is. But seemingly, in these enlightened times, clients often try to solve their marketing (or sales) issues by calling up their agency (or calling a pitch) and asking for The Big Idea that they believe will solve their problems.

As if.

Very often the problem that needs to be resolved is nothing to do with advertising or communications or marketing. It’s a fundamental problem with the product. I recently worked on a project where the brief was for an advertising idea/campaign that would create a massive leap in revenue. But when we looked at the data, it was perfectly clear to everyone but the client that the issue was with the product.

The client’s website was getting a massive amount of hits and interaction but hardly anyone was making a purchase. And when we looked more closely it was obvious why.

Essentially, the product (online learning materials) was being given away free on the site. Users were asked to ‘upgrade’ to a paid-for version but were given no reason why they should. They got virtually nothing extra, certainly nothing to justify the cost. So why would they upgrade?

How would an advertising campaign resolve this revenue issue? How could it? This was a conversion issue, pure and simple.

As is so often the case, the client was reluctant to do the hard stuff. In this case, this would mean fundamentally rejigging their product offering: making the paid-for product worth the investment, making the free product an obviously lesser offering.

This would be A Big Job and involve cross-company cooperation, a lot of grief, and rattling a lot of complacent cages. Lots of work in other words.

So they stick their head in the sand and call a pitch for A Big Idea instead.



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