Last week I was on the jury for the 2008 Broadridge Canadian Investment Marketing Awards.  This is the marketing prize that is part of the Canadian Investment Awards which recognize leading investment products and firms illustrating an enduring
commitment to excellence within the Canadian financial services industry
overall.  I got invited to be on the jury by the folks at Kaleidoscope Marketing an Communications who I had met at an American Marketing Association function and are all-around great folks.

Did I mention that I get to attend their big crazy party?  I figure it’s going to be fun because if there’s a group of people on the planet that are in need of a few drinks right now, it’s people whose job it is to care about the stock market.

The submissions were generally good (ok, ok, there was one stinker but at least it made the other ones look better) but there was a real separation between the good submissions and the great ones.  Here is what I took away:

Objective Setting and Results Measurement Doesn’t Happen Enough – A number of campaigns only had soft goals (increased awareness was the most common) and then never made any attempt to measure if they had met those goals.  These campaigns also tended to be not focused on a particular segment.  One juror referred to this technique as “Spray and Pray Marketing” which I thought summed it up.  This is marketing 101 stuff in my mind.  If you don’t have a goal and don’t measure results you might as well just hand out money on the street.

If Your Product is a Dog, Marketing Must Say No – A couple of the submissions were well planned and executed but when you looked at exactly what they were marketing the product/service wasn’t differentiated at all.  One juror stated “Why are they running a campaign at all?  They would have been better to spend another year getting more differentiation in the product before wasting their marketing dollars.”  This was a great observation.  Sometimes marketing has to say no.

Big Budget Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Great Marketing – There were so-so submissions from massive national banks working with top-tier agencies and there were great campaigns from very small funds where the campaign was done completely in-house.  Having the discipline to set a strategy, define goals, and follow through all the way to tracking results is more likely to make your campaign great than anything else.  Agency output for the larger firms was only as good as the up-front planning the marketing folks did.

Also, not a single person tried to bribe me into picking their campaign.  Frikkin’ honest Canadians!