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Sera Miller, CEO of Material and Deputy Chair of the IPA’s Effectiveness Leadership Group, is a passionate believer in the unifying power of effectiveness. She argues that organisational change that embraces effectiveness is now a business necessity.

Take a look at the programmes of a few major international marketing conferences. Amongst the ubiquitous ‘next big thing’ narratives and trend-driven themes, words like “creativity” and “data” are liberally scattered. Fundamental to our industry’s lexicon, we are very comfortable with them.

“Effectiveness” though, is notably less present. So what’s our problem with it?

Where is effectiveness?

At an operational and structural level it’s there. Client recruitment, capability building and internal focus on effectiveness has never been more present. But organisationally and culturally the disconnect surrounding marketing effectiveness endures. And that is reflected in the pile of conference programmes I’ve been looking through. It is rarely on the agenda, except where a pairing with the word ‘creative’ makes us a bit more comfortable. It’s as if it has been left out in the cold, pressing its perceived sensible little nose up against the window, while all the creative hipsters, data gurus and cool tech kids party on inside.

Well it’s time to invite it in. And not just because it’s getting a cold nose and we feel a bit sorry for it. Because we need to: effectiveness is what brings all those disparate groups together. Because a culture of effectiveness, one that is driven by insight, actionable foresight and creativity, is now nothing less than a business transformation necessity. Balancing long-term investment and short-term activity has never been more important for brands; in that context there is no better framework for decision-making than effectiveness.

A collage of the speakers at the Effectiveness Week launch in September 2016 , including Sera Miller, MD of Material speaking on the importance of an effectiveness culture
Sera Miller (top left) speaks at the Effectiveness Week launch at BAFTA in September 2016

Why create effectiveness culture?

Organisational culture is built on values, beliefs and behaviours. If you want it to evolve you have to change: and to change behaviour, you need to change thinking. I believe that effectiveness culture offers an opportunity to do just that. It offers a shared language with which the CFO, CMO and CEO can engage in dialogue. It is the most powerful value creation tool in the C-Suite. Unifying rather than divisive, it frames how value is created, delivered and captured – the whole business model – embedding business benefits not just communication results.

Balancing long-term investment and short-term activity has never been more important for brands

From the CEO, right through the business we must understand the opportunity to create real change. To take what is known about the problems that have already been solved, the impacts that have been achieved, and the outcomes that have been realised. To acknowledge all the different inputs, outputs, blockers and enablers. And finally, we must take all of this knowledge and understanding and move beyond it to create strategies and forward motion.

In short, the opportunity lies in harnessing the power of evidence-based decision-making to improve commercial performance and create long-term value. Both for ourselves and for our clients.

Dan Izibicki of Unilever quoted on the need for Marketeers to take the lead to create an effectiveness culture

The marketing community must lead

The time is now for the marketing community to provide leadership and steer the conversation. This is where Effectiveness Week comes in. Established by the IPA in association with the most influential of industry bodies and clients it has catalysed that conversation. It is the genesis of a greater debate around marketing effectiveness focussing on evidence-based decision-making and foresight rather than retrospective measurements and awards.

Can you afford not to be part of the conversation?

What happened on the stages in London and around the country in the first week of November 2016 was just the beginning. I was a part of it, and the focus on effectiveness culture, business transformation and results gave me real insights into the opportunities available to my business and clients. Can you afford not to be part of the conversation too?

Effectiveness Week was an event 31 October – 04 November 2016, which brought together senior marketers and decision-makers from both agencies and clients. The week tackled some of the big questions around making marketing more accountable and enabling the discipline to deliver value to the business through foresight and evidence-based decision-making. You can browse the learnings and key content from the week here.

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“Just what the industry needs, great collaboration between clients and agencies on the topics that drive business growth.”

Bridget Angear, Joint Chief Strategy Officer at AMV BBDO

“It’s great to see the IPA in the UK bring the whole industry and particularly the trade bodies together to focus on effectiveness. This new Marketing Effectiveness initiative will enable people across the industry to work together to build on best practice.”

David Wheldon, Chief Marketing Officer, RBS

“Effectiveness is a team sport, so it was great to see the industry in the widest sense, come together. In an increasingly diverse and fragmented world, only by using all parts of the brain will we solve effectiveness challenges and design our campaigns to deliver short and long term value. That’s why what happens next is important – if the IPA can help facilitate progress on this with a long-term initiative around Marketing Effectiveness, we’ll definitely crack it.”

Bart Michels, Global CEO Kantar Added Value and Country Leader Kantar UK

“The time spent at #EffWeek was extraordinarily effective. It was great to hear the diverse views from all areas of the industry. All tied together with the common themes of accountability and effectiveness.”

Andrew Canter, Global CEO, BCMA

“It has been a privilege to be part of the inaugural Effectiveness Week. The agenda is one which we at O2 UK feel passionately about. To see and hear perspectives across the industry demonstrates how the breadth of marketing effectiveness is increasingly being valued within businesses. Data, insight, social, customer experience, test and learn, ROI, these are all fundamentals and were covered expansively at the event”.

Sandra Fazackerley, Marketing & Consumer, Telefónica UK Limited

“The full week of effectiveness events brought into clear focus the need for marketers to use data and insight to achieve the key business objectives of growth and profits. Marketers today are in a better position to quantify their knowledge of customers and measure the ability of investments in marketing to increase brand and shareholder value.”

Chris Combemale, Group CEO, DMA