OPINION: Pre-Testing Makes Reliance on Gut Instinct Appear Prehistoric

Article excerpt

Marketing's age of accountability began in the early-90s. Prior to this, marketing activities were widely seen as a cost and marketers were regarded as 'fluffy'.

These marketers espoused the idea that marketing was an art and an inherently creative endeavour. All a marketer needed to succeed was gut instinct, an extensive vocabulary and an unburdened imagination. They certainly did not need a qualification in marketing, because, hey, marketing is instinct.

With the age of accountability came a focus on metrics, measurement and evaluation. Leading marketers were told that if you cannot measure, you cannot manage, and they set about creating a more systematic and strategic approach.

It became relatively easy to identify whether a company had evolved or not. One classic means of identification was how a company approached its advertising planning. Marketers used to approach their advertising agency with a bundle of strategic goals - none of them derived from research - and then set about directing the agency to create an ad that they (rather than their target) perceived to be acceptable. Consequently, the first time a marketing manager found that their ad budget had been wasted was after it had been invested - sorry, spent.

Evolved marketers use their own research to brief their agency and then review its creative output using the voice of the customer. They do this through pre-testing. Pre-testing is a century-old tradition of taking a fraction of the total ad budget to test whether a campaign will actually work in its present form before that campaign is completed and aired. …