Your input isn’t their out-take

20 May 2019 | Marketing

One of the biggest failures in advertising & marketing campaigns is that the message you, teams or companies are trying to relay is often not what the user is leaving the table with.

You may have created a killer ad. Spent up big. The emotions are perfect. You selected a few key creative spaces and hip cafes to film in. You’ve mixed in a decent array of diversity. The videography work has been flawlessly executed. What you’re trying to portray to your audience is that you *do* indeed support small businesses, that you want them on board and that you’ve created a specific financial application to help them out with managing their day-to-day activities in the short term, and meeting their goals in the long time.

I watched a campaign like this roll through the TV screens of a nation recently and couldn’t help thinking they’d really missed their mark. I could see what they were trying to do but they missed actually communicating it.

After the campaign has been viewed a few thousand times you typically ask some questions to a broad range of people (or at least, a good team or agency should). I imagine for this ad (after being watched by millions) it would have gone a little something like this…

What was the product we created?
Ummm…something to help small business?

How?
I’m not entirely sure.

Can you name it or know what to google to find it?
Errrrr, no.

What were you thinking as you watched?
That they need small businesses to come onboard so they can loan them more money and earn more interest. As a small business owner myself I’ve never been able to get a business loan though – they always tell me to get a personal loan without years of income history so this is yet another promise they won’t deliver on. They only care about us when they need something from us and ironically the small fortune they just spent to make this gorgeous video would have been far more useful just split amongst us as a token of appreciation to their small business customers.

This is why testing is so important (and something most campaigns fail to do well). Not only to understand what are people responding well, or not, to but what messages are they taking away? Like anything, when you’re working on something, when you’re on the inside, you have the knowledge and context. You understand the intent, you know why you’re doing something. Your market generally doesn’t have this. They only have their experiences and perceptions and they’re looking at this from a whole different angle.

I think we need to do the same in UX (user experience) and CX (customer experience) testing a lot more.

For example if you’re a coach and regularly send out survey forms after your work together, if you’re a designer consistently splashing around Facebook ads for your new course or group program, if you’re an employer attempting to pitch your company to the best recruits or you’re an IT integrator pitching to the next big client.

What’s the out-take? That is, given the input, what messages are your users taking from it?

When prototyping and testing therefore, we should not only be checking for function and workflows – what are they clicking, what are they missing, where are they stuck in the process, what steps are they taking to get somewhere, what imagery are they responding more to? We should also be asking, what main message are you walking away with regarding this experience or our brand? What do you remember of this? How are you feeling about our brand / this solution after seeing or trying this? What do you think we’re attempting to do? Did it land/work in this manner?

Out-takes are harder to measure and understand the impact of. They’re usually a longer term effect and can be difficult to drill down as the problem but they have a broad impact, and over time consistently reinforce or change the perception of your brand particularly when combined with any experience and interactions they directly have and any word-of-mouth anecdotes they’re hearing or reading.

It’s time to analyze your brand, your service, your marketing – whatever you’re putting out there into the world right now. Ask some customers, ask some people who didn’t take you up on it, ask some friends and ask yourself honestly – what message are people taking away from this?

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