It's All About the Work.

There's no substitute for great work: fresh customer insights, brilliant creativity and beautiful design, executed flawlessly that achieves positive results.

As we all learn to work in teams, to contribute to projects in a collaborative fashion and to have other people's welfare dependent upon our personal performance, we can take guidance from Dan Wieden, of the Wieden and Kennedy ad agency. I understand that he once had a sign over his desk that said, "Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work."

I take that to mean: Get the research to back it up – then be bold!

At The Phelps Group, we define great work as marketing communications that builds the brand while creating immediate sales impact. Another way we say it is that "Great work is a refreshing jolt to the psyche that gets results."

We can make lists of elements that are typically present in great work: strong emotional appeal, appeal to the rational, a unique look and feel, enhanced customer relationships, and the message being from the consumer point of view. We could go on. Books have been written on what makes for great communications.

Ultimately, it's not about how funny it is, or how original it is – or how many awards it has won.

Whether it's media relations, advertising or promotions, great work in marketing communications is best defined by its results – both long- and short-term.

The way to measure the value of marketing communications most often has been to measure its appeal to a panel of experts in an industry awards contest or a change in attitude on the part of the consumer. Asking about "intent to buy" or, "did the advertising influence your decision?" is most often not a valid measurement of a program's value.

A better way to measure value is to measure an actual change in behavior by the consumer.

The quest in our industry is to maximize our potentials by removing obstacles that get in the way of the best work – and by finding new methods to improve the creative development process.

So much time in our industry is spent conjecturing; pontificating; pondering; and, in the end, guessing what the impact of an effort (message, offer and medium) will be. We increasingly recommend that tests are worth the time and money. They minimize risks by reducing the initial investment. The Internet is making this more feasible – time-wise and money-wise.

So, if you believe it will work – stop talking about it and test it!