November 19, 2012

How do you answer “We already tried that”?

How do you solve the recurring difficulty of brand stakeholders stuck behind the that-doesn’t-work-for-us barrier?

Sure, sometimes it’s legitimate. There are always strategies, tactics, media and processes impractical for a given brand. (Don’t advertise tampons during hockey broadcasts, or reverse mortgages on the Disney Channel.) There are even whole market segments that should be avoided. (Marketing cottage cheese to African-Americans, for example, is a losing cause: too many lactose-intolerant people in that population.)

Over the years, we’ve heard every possible tactic dismissed by somebody as absolutely, completely ineffective.

Often, however, when you examine the evidence closely, the person who insists “radio (or pay-per-click, or social media, or fill-in-the-blank) didn’t work for us” is one who tried a less-than-sparkling creative effort in a too-short trial, making less-than-professional media choices. That’s a deadly combination. Once burned, twice shy, and the case for (re-) doing it properly seems to be slammed shut.

There are no easy answers for this. How would you approach it?