What #thedress teaches marketers.

#dress I awoke from under a rock last weekend to a debate raging about “the dress”. After firmly siding with Team Blue/Black, I asked my wife for her opinion: “Unquestionably, white/gold”.  HUH?!  After spitting-up my coffee, I launched into a staunch defense of my position and assumed a conspiracy against unsuspecting men who clearly know nothing about dresses let alone color.

It was akin to being told the sun is the moon and vice versa. As the day progressed, my conspiracy theory was deflated by voluminous social commentary as well as my soothing wife who at different times saw different colors herself depending on the angle, lighting, etc. (For the record, I have only EVER seen blue and black!) Upon re-entry into the Land of the Logical, I dove into the science behind our perception of color and how different people can see different shades or different colors altogether. This exercise made me wonder, what else can we all plainly see yet have starkly different interpretations?

As a father of one teenager and another who will soon be, my interpretations and opinions are generally at odds with that of my offspring. Most are of the benign sort (e.g. the optimal bedtime, how much time is devoted to studying, ‘appropriate’ movies for family viewing, etc.) of which most parents can likely relate. But these disagreements are mostly a product of varying degrees of experience, knowledge, and ulterior motives; NOT a clear black/white difference of fact as the dress donnybrook initially seemed.

Why do different marketers view results of the same campaign differently and who is right? How much of the differences of opinions stem from our varying experiences, knowledge, and motive vs. the more nebulous occurrence of us both being ‘right’, where the only opinion that truly matters is that of the purse controller?

As stewards of marketing investment dollars, it’s our responsibility to carve out the parameters that define success as well as find success with every perceived failure. Embracing campaigns that appear as losers at first glance and turning them into learning opportunities that never occur again is a valuable takeaway from underperforming campaigns.

If you are frequently called to the post-campaign table to either justify the decision to invest additional marketing funds into a tactic that didn’t pan out according to some website’s “Marketing 101 campaign results expectations”, or to explain how your campaign fell flat and subsequently how you plan to “make this right”, listen up: It’s your responsibility to coach your client (internal or external) to realistic expectations. Many reading this will fall into the “we’ll figure it out later” school of business development strategy. I assure that this is always a recipe for disaster and certainly the wrong approach to kick off any new client engagement.  

While projected results are always guesstimates, they should emanate from a place of knowledge. The best starting point is a firm understanding of previous results and then an estimated lift based on any new strategy being employed. This lift is ideally calculated from results experienced from similar campaigns using such technique(s). If firm estimates from experience are not available, it needs to be known by all campaign stakeholders.

Better to have everyone onboard vs. staring at results, arguing the colors, where nobody is right and nobody is wrong.