Let’s be honest, we have all found ourselves sitting down with our agency teams, and sometimes the client, with a fully blown-out plan or creative idea, talking about the amazing possibilities, when suddenly someone (usually the brand planner) wakes up and says “I just don’t think this is going to work from a consumer standpoint.” I know, those words are like nails on a chalkboard (shiver), but unfortunately, we all get caught in the “great idea” trap and forget the goal at hand:
We need to get the consumer to do something!
Whether we are looking for sales, social shares, word of mouth, awareness, or any number of other measures of success, the common denominator is always the consumer. Without the consumer’s blessing, there will be no success.
I am in no way saying this means you should test everything. Testing is not always helpful. Consumers are usually going to react differently in real-life situations, and we all know that what we say and what we actually do can be two very different things. Instead, it is important you really understand the consumer, and yes, try to put yourself in the consumer’s shoes (sorry, I tried not to use a cliché, I promise). This is important throughout creative development, media plan creation, and everything else you are working on for a brand.
So, I have a feeling you are currently saying to yourself “Well, this talk bite is stating the obvious.” You were, weren’t you? With that, I say “Well, then stop forgetting about the consumer!” Oh, and here are three tools beyond formal research that have worked well for me over my years as a student researcher, a brand planner, and even a retail manager:
1. Talk to the people you know.
Listen to who the target is. Beyond demographics, who are they behaviorally? What are their values, their beliefs?
Who in your life are those people?
Talk to them. Understand them.
Something they say may just give you an idea.
2. Take yourself back and then bring that “you” to the present.
Were you once this person (e.g. were you ever an angst-filled teenager)?
Think back to that version of you. What did you care about? What did you not care about?
What if that version of you were around today? How would you be different? What would you respond to?
3. Go to them.
Is there a place where these like-minded consumers can be found en masse?
Go there. Participate. Observe them. Talk to them. Just don’t be creepy.
If you begin to incorporate these tools into your process and actually take your learnings to heart, your ideas will get better and the brand will be more successful. Why? Because, when you know your target this well, you are better equipped to create campaigns that get their attention and get them buying, sharing, and talking. And when your consumers like your brand so much that they are talking about it, your brand starts to become a part of their culture.
I am not going to lie, I have always been a sucker for Black Friday shopping and invited online Thanksgiving day deals with open arms, but are retailers going too far with opening their brick and mortar stores on Thanksgiving? A large number of retailers are opening at 8 or 9pm, closing a few hours later, and then opening up again early on Black Friday. Of course, there were always a few stores out there that were open on Thanksgiving, but they were usually “necessity” stores, like grocery stores, drug stores, and gas station convenience stores, but now it is mass merchandisers, department stores, and even boutique stores in malls. I am guessing the employees of these retailers and their families are not happy about the new Thanksgiving hours, but what do the consumers think? My guess: Consumers are not pleased retail is taking over another holiday, but they will shop anyway. They don’t want to miss out on that $200 TV!
So, what is the opportunity for brands? While it can be really difficult not to fall in-line with your fellow retailers, consumers are going to appreciate brands who show they care about their customers, and perhaps take the position of helping people have quality holiday time with family and friends, instead of taking it away. I know the loss of sales at the holiday season is hard to swallow, but brands that zag, instead of zig on Thanksgiving, will likely gain loyal customers who will make up for it throughout the year, including during the rest of the holiday season. It’s just a matter of doing it right.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
A colleague told me today that one of our clients was giving 22squared a lot of praise for how well we work together. The quote went something like, “A lot of agencies say they work together (internally), but it isn’t true collaboration. 22squared is different.” This is not an exact quote, but I imagine it is pretty close. Of course, we have an advantage at 22squared, being a full-service agency and all, but I believe there are many full-service agencies out there that do not collaborate at the level we do. This is a shame, because working well together really does bring better results. I am definitely not an expert on collaboration, but here are my top 4 tips based on what I have seen work well in my 4 years at 22squared:
1. Bring media planners into the creative briefing. Media planning is becoming more and more creative and it is important they are on board with and understand the big idea when putting together their final plans for the campaign.
2. Bring brand planning and creatives into the digital media RFP process. Again, media is getting more creative, and this is especially true in the mobile arena and online. I have sat through a few of these cross-department meetings, and the ideas that emerge when media, brand planning, creatives, and even vendors are all in the same room can be pretty amazing.
3. If there are research insights, share them with everyone. We can all use the research to make our piece of the campaign more impactful. Creatives need to understand how to best speak to the consumer, media needs to know who they are, so they can better understand where they are, and client leadership needs to know all of it, so they can back us up when the client asks why we are doing something a certain way.
4. Hold structured cross-department brainstorms prior to annual planning. Having media, account management, brand planning, creatives, social media, etc. all in the room at once does not happen often, but it can be a really eye-opening exercise. Just because someone is in media does not mean they do not have any out-of-the-box and insightful ideas on how to best speak to the consumer.
So, those are my top 4 tips for collaboration that leads to better campaigns. I am sure I could come up with many more, but this is a talk bite, you know?
I recently had to do some grocery shopping for a friend and her family and it ended up being a pretty tedious and lengthy process. Why? Everything had to be organic and her daughter is allergic to dairy. Not to mention the expired potatoes I realized were in my cart when I finally made it to the checkout lane. As I was shopping, I found myself thinking: “Wouldn’t it be nice if someone could follow me around and tell me if there is milk in this bread, these apples are not organic, or these potatoes are expired?” Enter: The Smarter Cart. This thing is pretty cool and I want it in my neighborhood grocery store as soon as possible!
The Smarter Cart is powered by Microsoft Kinect and does some pretty amazing things. Here’s the shortlist: The cart will follow you around the store, help you navigate the aisles, check items off your list as you scan them along the bottom of your cart, monitor for incorrect purchases (i.e. non-organic foods), food allergies, and, yes, expiration dates, and finally, it will check you out right there from your cart! No more pushing shopping carts, while holding your list and trying to figure out what aisle the rice is in, no more taking home baking soda when you needed baking powder, no more expired food, and goodbye lines! Grocery shopping done easy.
Now, as with all new technology, I am sure there are kinks to work out, and not all consumers will embrace it at first, but as soon as they realize how much easier it will make their grocery shopping trips, they will want nothing less. I, for one, hope it shows up in my neighborhood very soon.
Introducing You to Your Biggest Advocates
It doesn’t usually (or arguably ever) make sense to say everyone is your target, because like we have all heard many times in one form or another: you can’t be everything to everyone, and if you try to be, failure is likely. Instead, you should want to answer this question: Who are my best customers? The answer: Yes, those who spend the most with you and/or are the most frequent purchasers of your brand are some of your best customers, but it goes beyond that. They are also the people who share your brand’s values, those who feel they are getting the experience they want and need from your brand, and those who are most likely to tell others about you. In fact, some of these people may not currently engage with your brand. Segmentation can help you change that.
A well-crafted segmentation will tell you many things about your biggest advocates, including:
And what can come out of knowing all of this?And what do happy customers do? They shop more, they talk more, and they improve business (increased sales, anyone?).
So, I guess what I am trying to say here is, do a consumer segmentation study for your brand and you shall be rewarded. Don’t do it and you might be able to survive, but you can probably be doing better!