Marketeers should be aiming for “Return on Emotions” rather than simply “Return on Investment” according to Moe Jawhar, Executive Creative Director of Dubai based, Serviceplan Group Middle East.

We live in a world where the C suite want proof of campaign effectiveness with numbers, clicks, sales, impressions, test drives, footfall, you name it.  If you work in marketing or advertising, before getting anything signed off, you probably need to show a feasibility study, ROI and so on. While this is necessary, it should not be at the detriment of focusing on the bigger picture; in some cases, you need to let ROI take a back seat and prioritize your focus on the ROE (return on emotions).

We know that changing opinions is hard, almost impossible in some cases, because our task is not a marketing dilemma, it’s a human dilemma.  But, there’s a lot we can learn if we simply look at behaviours rather than numbers. In the words of US investor and philanthropist, Charlie Munger -  "If economics isn't behavioral, I don't know what the hell is.”

We think that people will just believe what we tell them, because WE as their marketing advisors think it’s right. It’s an attitude that we have, obsession with control, because that’s how things were done in the past – in advertising at least. People were pinned in front of their TVs and whatever came out of this device - they just believed it. Things are a little bit different now, things have changed, we have changed.

We can’t influence people’s opinion just because we said so. It’s not because our brand is not genuine, it’s because every brand is saying the exact same thing. As renowned marketing strategist, Luke Sullivan says, “In a business where we all try to avoid clichés, a lot of people buy into this cliché-as-lifestyle. I can assure you it is illusion.”

Here’s some advice: next time you set up a brief with a basic target group information don’t start working straight away, assuming that this is enough to tell you who your customer is. Not all girls wear pink and not all rich people wear suits, and simply showing a man wearing a Kandura does not make your ad or your campaign “targeted”.

We need to try and understand who we’re talking to, as humans, not only numbers, figures and personas.

It makes sense to follow these three steps as part of the process:

1.     Know your host.
Think of yourself as a visitor in the region and you want to impress your host - you need to know him first.  The GCC countries share a common history and culture, yet there are also many differences in terms of social outlook and approach to business. Treating all Arabs alike smacks of arrogance, and coming across arrogant is just about the worst thing a brand can do in this part of the world.

2.     Value “emotional value” more than “numerical value”.
Invest in your brand – not financially – but where it sits in people’s minds and hearts.
There’s a measure on how fast a car can go and how many people it can carry, but no numerical measurement on how enjoyable the ride is or how annoying it is to find a parking spot. I think as advertisers we take some of the blame. We spent years pushing tactical messages and following clichés, listening to what the client wants and not what people want. If there’s anything you learn is that neither marketing mangers nor strategist or creative directors make brands, people do.

3.     Find an adjective.
It’s not simple, but you need your brand to stand for one thing, that people can relate to, on a human level. That one word that would be synonymous with your brand. If you ask a friend – not a focus group – to talk to you about cars he will strip it down for you to one word: “I’m going to buy me a Jeep - they’re tough. Porsche - they’re fast. BMW - they perform”. But finding an adjective is hard because like a Dubai parking lot most of the spots are taken, and you either have to take someone else’s spot or find your own somehow.

There’s a good deal more debate to be had concerning this topic, but as a starting point we would be wise to consider Plato’s words - “A good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers.”, let’s start our talk with humans before we turn them to numbers.