Friday, May 8, 2009

Best practices.

David Brooks, an op-ed columnist for The New York Times has an interesting article, "The Harlem Miracle," on Charter Schools today. And yes, it's prompted me to think about the advertising industry. You can read the whole megilleh here:

The miracle Brooks writes about is a charter school called The Promise Academy producing gains of 1.3 to 1.4 standard deviation. Quoting Brooks, "the most common education reform ideas — reducing class size, raising teacher pay, enrolling kids in Head Start — produce gains of about 0.1 or 0.2 or 0.3 standard deviations."

Roland Fryer, a Harvard economist, had this to say about these results. "The results changed my life as a researcher because I am no longer interested in marginal changes.”

Now, the parallels to our industry. We accept, for example, an "open-rate" of .015% in direct mail. Getting that open-rate becomes the norm. We build "best practices" so that we achieve those results.

A .015% open-rate means fifteen people out of a thousand opened a piece of mail. That's a best-practice?

A lot of what we do in our industry is accepting mediocrity and formalizing mediocrity so that it is acceptable to accept it.

Our job is the opposite of that.
Our job is to be "no longer interested in marginal changes."
It's to find miracles.


Tore Claesson said...

it's all about the Johnson box. My own project to change it to a circle and call it the Claesson Black Hole, to suck readers in, was rejected by research groups.

Teenie said...

Pfft!!! Tore, I would have voted for that in a heartbeat.

Eons ago, the CD and I produced a DM that generated a 97% response rate (the creative was really nice but the offer was also fantastic). Client was happy, agency was happy, customers were happy, advertising industry? Didn't blink an eye.

So I still wonder how much our industry judges our work on merit and results versus entertainment value.