Marketing and Research Consulting for a Brave New World
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Can’t marketing do better than this?

  • 80% of new products fail
  • 50% of ad campaigns show no effect (mostly TV based for this analysis)
  • Advertising elasticity is 0.15 (Meta-analysis via the Future of Advertising project from Wharton)…barely enough to warrant advertising!
  • Most existing brands are stagnant and show little growth (unless expanding distribution to new markets.)

Tell me again how a billion dollars spent each year on concept testing and brand tracking are helping?!! These performance statistics…all reported in the literature…are a joint failure…marketing research (as well as marketing) must shoulder the blame.

To do better, let’s imagine a different value chain for marketing research.


In a data driven marketing age, marketing research needs a new playbook. Stop thinking that insights from “the study” are enough.  We must seek data assets and math that drive repeatable success. We even need more that “actionability” the long-standing plea from marketers to researchers…we need to drive for enablement.

Enablement means you are creating something new that is engineered to work better than current practices each and every time. It could be the creation of new targetable segments that will perform 2-5 times better than the average marketing ROI when the segment is advertised to programmatically. It could also be a process or planning tool that leads to more successful media allocation. It could be a new data strategy that improves programmatic effectiveness. In a digital, data-driven age, “Enablement” requires that you go beyond the survey and fully integrate digital ad stack data.

Enablement implies more than actionability.  It creates new ways of producing success. Imagine if marketing research and analytics met the following challenge…”engineer repeatable success through media strategies that will work each and every time to double marketing ROI.”  Let’s elaborate on three key words:

  • ENGINEER: you are creating a NEW asset (e.g. targetable segment) designed for high performance, not just reporting on the effectiveness of current practices.
  •  REPEATABLE: the strategy and process will work virtually each and every time (vs. the breakthrough campaign that happens every 10 years).
  • DOUBLE: your goal is to make marketing work twice as well (e.g. twice the sales for the same ad budget) as would otherwise be the case

Evidence this is completely achievable:

  1. The Persuadables white paper proved that some segments (e.g. heavy brand buyers close to an upcoming purchase) CONSISTENTLY return 5-16 TIMES the marketing ROI of others (e.g. non-buyers of the brand who are not close to an upcoming purchase.)
  2. MTA providers document improvement in marketing ROI.  Providers tell me (in my role as MTA expert for the MMA) that use of their tools improves ROI by 25-30%. Marketers’ own assessment is more conservative, but still 10% improvement which is significant.

Now imagine a research department (or research supplier), whose brand research (or client service) teams are supported by centers of excellence built around three themes…

  • Knowledge
  • Discovery and inspiration
  • Productivity creation (also will require digital marketing, general media excellence, and advanced analytics expertise)

Let’s focus on the last one…productivity creation. This is where enablement would be housed. Put segmentation, MMM, MTA, and brand tracking in the third CoE.  Definitely, you would wind up with better trackers (adding in digital and social metrics of success into the dashboard).  Big wins will come creating and implementing a cogent data strategy, on-boarding MTA, and  from creating targetable segments at scale, engineered to at least double ROI, based on research that is fully integrated with digital profiling variables and conversions data. For many marketers, this can be funded by sizable reductions in tracker research programs.

With a new Research and Analytics value chain, and with a new center of excellence focused on productivity, we have the building blocks for a better outcome…

Metric Current Future How to get there
New product success rate 20% 40% Target high propensity triers with a large portion of launch advertising
Ad campaign success rate 50% 80% Ensure that performance is delivered though targeting high performing segments
Advertising elasticity .15 .30 Doubled through segment targeting, context targeting, media tactic optimization
Brand growth +/- 5% 10-15% Better media spending will drive sales growth with same ad budget.


While I am not ignoring the value of insights, concept testing, copy testing, descriptive analytics, etc., traditional methods ALONE only got us to the mediocre performance results we see today.  What I am proposing is the addition of math-based enablement tools that will deliver superior ROI each and every time.

And imagine this…if marketing could reduce ad spending by 20% and still grow existing brand sales, how would it re-invest this dividend to create even more growth through innovation?

Enablement and better performance…now THAT’S one hell of a new value proposition for marketing research!

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2 Responses to “Why does marketing fail so often and how can we do better?”

  1. Jo-Ann Osipow

    Joel, this is a great articulation of the vision AND journey Research must embrace. It’s an exciting and critical transformation!


    • joel

      thanks Jo-Ann! I know you see the big picture but not everyone can. I am trying to shine a light, knowing some can’t find there way forward and have not really learned about the new marketing rules that digital gives us. Sad when I hear of people (even whole departments) getting axed but invariably, those folks would be hard-pressed to give evidence of how they generated incremental profitable growth for the enterprise. Without that, people are vulnerable.