What, exactly, are we doing here?

The only rational reason for marketing communications.

There's only one rational reason for marketing communications: to motivate people to act. To buy a product, adopt a behavior, use a service, vote for a candidate or patronize a retailer.

Awareness, attention, recall, perception, persuasion, preference and engagement are only relevant if they are part of a process of persuasion that leads to action.

If they're not linked to action, clicks don't count. Correct brand identification is meaningless. "Noted" and "read-most" scores don't matter. Message comprehension is irrelevant. Eye-tracking studies and MRIs of brain activity are pointless. Because what we're trying to do here is get people to do something.

If it doesn't get folks to hand over cash, change their ways, pull the lever or whip out their plastic, marketing communications is an unconscionable waste of resources. That includes all marketing communications: advertising, public relations, web, mobile, events, package design, corporate philanthropy, signage and anything else that we do.

But don't we do corporate philanthropy so people will like our companies? A whole lot of data show that people like companies to support causes or sponsor activities in the public interest, but that their appreciation has no effect on their purchase decisions.

How about publicity? We want the public to know that our organization has been around for a century, don't we? Or that we're leaders in the field? Our innovations? Our commitment to the community? That's important, right? Actually, no. A great deal of research has found most folks don't care about an organization's past or leadership or general wonderfulness. They want to know what they'll get – their benefit – if they do business with the organization.

But surely advertising awareness and likability count for something? If they did, Coca-Cola sales would have taken off when the cute polar bear commercials were aired. But in fact they continued sinking. And some of the most irritating campaigns ever perpetrated have been tremendously successful.

So all we have to do is measure the immediate sales impact of marketing communications? Not quite.

Direct-response marketing can do that, of course. Bob Valenti knew exactly how many Ginsu knives each commercial sold. Credit card companies can calibrate response rates to their mailers precisely. A search-click-buy pure-play online merchant knows which key words worked best and the bottom-line benefit of every transaction.

In the direct-response model, simple arithmetic is all it takes to link consumer action to marketing.

Except for one little glitch.

Prospects don't live in hermetically sealed environments. The people who buy Ginsu knives from a commercial that airs at 2:00 A.M. Thursday may have been influenced by dozens of other spots flickering across their retinas on previous insomniac nights. Someone mailing the perfed-on application to Capital One may be responding to the mailer – and to the great "What's in your wallet?" commercials designed to soften them up for the direct mail pitch. And online merchants' customers may check ratings and reviews on social sites before buying.

Read more at http://www.brainposse.com/.