Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Creative bias – is it seeping into your bank advertising campaigns?

We hear a lot about media bias – left wing, right wing or racial bias. But there’s another type of bias that can affect your marketing campaigns. A bias you may not even be aware you have. For lack of a better name, I’d call it a personal creative bias. Bank marketing execs are not immune to this phenomenon. Focus groups, consumer testing, A/B direct mail splits, and even common sense can fly in the face of a bank marketer who exhibits creative bias. In other words, no matter what the research indicates, a bank marketer with creative bias just can’t seem to accept it. Perhaps some past event in their childhood, or just plain arrogance limits they’re ability to look at a campaign objectively.

Back in journalism school, we were taught to strip all bias from anything we wrote. Be objective was the mantra. Good advice for a writer. Good advice for a bank marketing director or manager. And, yes, a good writer can achieve objectivity. And, so should a good bank marketing exec.

What are examples of creative bias? I’ve seen bank marketers reject a great campaign because they had a personal aversion to the color being used. Another marketer vote down the use of envelopes being used in direct mail and preferred self-mailers in her mailbox. Another nixed a photo, not because it didn’t fit their demographic, but because he personally didn’t like the person’s looks. Ever wonder why certain spokespersons or celebs are used for a marketing message? A personal bias could be at work here. Or why a sports team or event receives a bank’s sponsorship, although it’s not a great fit for the organization, but because it happens to be an exec’s favorite? Bias.

While it may be the marketing director’s prerogative to accept or reject an element of the advertising campaign, bias could be coloring a good marketing decision.

Marketing isn’t about YOU, it’s about your CUSTOMER. Get over your bias. See the big picture from the outside, not from your viewpoint. You could be doing your marketing a disservice. The next campaign you evaluate, ask yourself if you can objectively look at its merits.