written by
Bernhard Oberlechner
Bernhard Oberlechner
Food for Thoughts
2019-03-14

When efficiency sabotages effectiveness

When efficiency sabotages effectiveness

Imagine you are looking forward to a new art exhibition only to get there and find the walls full of technical drawings and spreadsheets. Now you know how many people feel when they visit advertising and communication trade fairs these days.

In present times everything in marketing and communication seems to revolve around data, figures and the resulting revered concept of efficiency. This wouldn’t be a bad thing, if we could equate this efficiency with actual effectiveness. But this does not add up - at least not in our industry.

Efficiency does not always lead to effectiveness. Marketing and communication have that in common with human relationships. Otherwise we men would simply buy our wives roses the day after Valentine's Day because they are cheaper. This would be the most efficient solution but for obvious reasons and in terms of the desired result completely ineffective.

If efficiency is not the key to effectiveness in communication, then what is? Surprise surprise, it is good old creativity. Something that cannot be replaced by AI. A truth that even the hardcore data crunchers like our colleagues at Facebook acknowledge, albeit sometimes begrudgingly. Even Google is of the opinion that "creativity is the most important variable."

Don't get me wrong: I am absolutely of the opinion that a solid data base and (robust) measurement of communication objectives can contribute to their improvement. To ignore this would simply be ignorant and old school. On the other hand we shouldn’t simply conclude that all these new fact-based insights enable us to suddenly give a purely rational answer to an emotional challenge. Because that's exactly what good communication is: an emotional challenge. If we want to reach people and trigger the desired reaction, we have to address their feelings, their needs, and their desires.

Don’t believe me? Then buy your roses the day after Valentine’s Day and see what happens. I rest my case.

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