Stay Unique and be a Data Geek – 7 Steps to Consumer-Centric Marketing Strategies

The internet – as a small business, how do you view it? A tangled web of infinite advertising options? Or, an unlimited data mine ready for extraction? It’s all about perspective and this blog will show you the power of consumer-centric strategies.

Don’t you feel like every day the internet gives birth to a new social platform? Or Facebook absorbs another tool for us to voice our opinions? It’s all too easy to use them for the same old sales messages or in fact completely ignore them altogether, in a haze of bewilderment. However, with the growth in digital, arrives an explosion of new sources of data and these data mines can help to explain so much of human behavior online. Once we understand behaviour, we then have the key to unlock how to influence it!  

Mirroring this, the marketing industries have used the explosions in digital to skyrocket towards a much stronger evidence-based approach. Growth marketers, user experience designers, and lean project managers all use this multi-layered methodology.

More and more brands are finding the value in the shift away from  ‘what is communicated’  to the much more valuable…Why should we communicate this? And the digital data mines are powering their marketing rockets.

The key is to ask questions!

Function over form isn’t a new idea, but it’s developing every day, especially in digital and design. Asking more why’s and how’s is affecting the type of approach brands are taking on marketing their product or service. For me, this is really exciting because I am able to help more companies build authentic and sustainable brands by asking more often – “what value are you providing?”.

Why should I adopt a consumer-centric approach?

Firstly, evidence-based strategies are all about creating valuable and authentic brands, by way of a deeper understanding of the consumer. So, that’s where you come in, because this isn’t solely the responsibility of your marketing teams, whether that’s designers, developers, strategists, copywriters etc. It is your responsibility as a brand, who uses the services of these professionals (freelance or in-house) to adopt this outlook. Also, you are the driving voice behind that brand and you should act as a guardian to constructing it using whilst using these data-driven methods.

Secondly, by consistently observing the consumer…we are shifting the perspective from assumption-based marketing to a consumer-centric evidence-based approach. This means that you not only provide valuable products but you can also keep on top of the current industry trends and competitor landscapes. Wouldn’t you rather stay ahead of the curve instead of feeling like you’re falling behind and just reacting to them?

If you’re ready to shift your perspective and transform your brand from ‘just going through the social media motions’ to ‘sustainable content and campaigns with an ROI’, then I’ve covered some of the key approaches you can adopt and the main takeaways that will be valuable to your brand’s success. 

Here’s the breakdown;

Audience vs Persona’s

Forget ABC1’s or women aged 25-34 years old. The most valuable way to target your consumer as an independent brand is to create personas. When you are creating content for digital or offline, it is way easier to imagine your audience as an individual as opposed to a broader group of non-identifiables commonly referred to as ‘the audience’. With those data mines that I referred to earlier, we can drill down even further!

Personas include common challenges that they face, researched quotes, interview, and genuine brand interaction. Thanks to a treasure trove of analytics apps, you can figure out where they hang out online, how they use social networking sites, who are their peers, what they find valuable and who influences them, amongst lots of other valuable data.

Advertising approaches of old (I believe) are being wiped out. For too long they allowed the term ‘brand awareness’ to dominate its objectives. Now, supported by our brand data our objectives can indicate any number of successes big or small. (More about objective hierarchies later on).

Key takeaway – Use all paid owned and earned digital sources as a data mine to create detailed brand personas as well as interviews and industry reports.

Why? Because you are getting current, invaluable data from REAL identifiable people which will help you create sustainable targeted campaigns and content instead of wasting money on assumption lead ideas that may or may not be a success

Broad offline targeting vs Niche digital targeting

When you have discovered your niche personas and where exactly they hang out, you can now choose to use digital targeting techniques that mean your ad budgets could get a hell of a lot smaller and your return spiral upwards.

When I first started in Marketing 10 years ago it was filled with a lot of broad advertising options and audiences which were often very costly. For example, radio ads hit a variety of audiences across a myriad of sectors. We had no firm understanding of our audiences other behaviours, reactions, and influencers, other than through old-school industry reports which were often very expensive to access.

Ok, I hear you! You might already be doing paid ads – but are you using them to their utmost potential? Remarketing to website visitors and page likers, related interests, location, age etc are just a few ways we can target. But remember, they have to work with all the other points I discuss to get the optimum conversions. The shift to being consumer-centric should be applied to your marketing approach as a whole, not just individual elements.

Key takeaway – Target your personas online and minimise your ad budgets (or get more bang for your buck)

Assumptions vs Evidence-based strategies

As you may have realised, my consumer-centric ethos on marketing is that strategies should be more about the acquisition of knowledge and less about the assumption of it.

This ethos provides the basis for most things in my life, but to avoid getting too spiritual, it means that as marketers we don’t get lazy. It is all too easy to assume certain things about a brand, it’s consumer and competitor landscape when we have worked in that particular sector for many years.

Key Takeaway – Use consumer insight, not personal assumptions.

I help lots of my clients convert to consumer-centric strategies – one of those is Dancing Leopard – check out how we transformed their marketing approach here!

Product-focused vs Consumer-centric messaging

OK, let’s say you’ve discovered a host of brand and consumer insight, you’ve created some fan dazzling personas, and now you’re considering a facebook ad for a new top in your A/W collection… It’s all too easy to say “look here’s our new top – it’s wonderful”

That’s product-focused messaging and essentially ignores all that hard work you’ve done building your personas.

Some of the things consumer-centric messaging takes into account are;

  • Who they are targeting
  • Consumers current state of mind
  • The day of the week and seasonality
  • Where they are likely to be
  • What device they’re using
  • Current challenges (associated with products/brand)
  • Where they are on their consumer journey

The messaging should then tap into that data to create a valuable and emotive justification for them to click through to the website. The more insight you have on an individual, the more likely you can influence them to respond in the way you would like, say for example – clicking through on a Facebook ad and purchasing your new top.

It’s helpful to know, that this rule goes for content as a whole. So whether you are briefing (or creating yourself) an editorial shoot, industry whitepaper or blog, make sure you provide as much data into your briefs. More on the secrets to the best creative briefs – here.

Key takeaway – Take advantage of your persona and brand ecosystem research to create emotive and valuable content to optimise conversions.

Brand creation vs Brands as a perceived notion

Yes, we have control over what we put out on our brand, but ultimately a brand is how it is perceived by those that come into contact with it.

That means your brand will be different things to different people so it is important to nail down those personas so we can figure how they want to to be spoken to.

As Jon Bezos (Founder and CEO of Amazon) said;

“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

What I recommend to all my clients is a brand ecosystem audit, both on and offline. Research every brand touchpoint as well as your competitor landscape, look for the good, the bad and the ugly. Seek out brand gaps, trends, success, complaints etc. Your brand ecosystem is a gold mine of opportunity for your business and your marketing.

By searching for challenges or consumer problems, you can solve them with content or product – and this helps you find your unique value proposition. The thing that sets you aside from your competition.

Key Takeaway – Listen, learn and implement.

 

Stand-alone marketing vs Integrated marketing and business teams

As I previously mentioned, a consumer-centric approach to research is the key to innovation for your independent brand and this doesn’t just take place online. A second key approach is team integration. For years the perceived ‘airy fairy’ marketing teams have lead misunderstood working lives in many offices around the country. Big brands have engaged with big agencies!

But what would happen if your business saw its marketing leaders integrate with the rest of the business team?  Here’s what;

a. Access to data

Firstly, if your marketing representatives worked alongside your other business teams they would have access to much more of your brands qualitative and quantitative data…and you know I’m a geek for data.

  • Sales teams could communicate their own narrative and be supported by pitch winning content
  • You could tap into the treasure trove of customer services feedback (my favourite source for data mining)
  • Your product designers could give a deeper understanding of the product, how and why it was created

b. Nurture a content creation culture

With integration, comes a greater insight of teams throughout your business. Integration allows your employees, business-wide to become motivated and empowered. Imagine your product managers stepping up with valuable video ideas, your print designers pitching innovative social media visuals and your customer services team writing thought-provoking blogs.

By creating a culture of content – the brand will build on its authenticity, and the problems your consumer faces can be tackled more successfully. Not everyone will get this immediately, but after time, if you lead the way and nurture this empowering ethos you will reveal a limitless source of content.

Key takeaway – Integrate and empower to grow limitless sources of valuable content.

Sales vs Success hierarchy

I ask all of my clients – “What is success to you?” Their answer is always the same: “Sales!” Yes, they are absolutely right. However, if I was to pose the question: “Your industry white paper was downloaded 5000 times – does this feel like a success?” – They would wholeheartedly agree. Similarly, if they had managed to increase their website traffic by double, that would also be a delightful measure of success.

Suddenly, there is a whole host of potential campaign objectives to support things like sales and footfall. Yet again, this success is measured predominantly from the digital data mines and using tools such as Google Analytics, Kissmetrics, Hootsuite, Social Platforms analytics, to do so.

All data is not equal.

The big pitfall here is you choose the wrong measurements: Data is not all created equal. Sometimes we can focus on vanity metrics such as Instagram likes… but what does that really mean for your brand? Don’t think that by quality data I solely refer to numerical stats. Qualitative data is just as useful to create a narrative for your brand.

The solution is to reimagine success and create objective hierarchies for your brand and campaigns. We can create these by planning out consumer journeys and content mapping.

Key Takeaway – Use your data wisely and in context.

 

Why did I read this (longer than expected) blog?

Now you can have the choice of if you want to;

  • Measure and influence more successfully the actions of consumers by using the data mines that exist in your brand ecosystem.
  • Create a sustainable brand with a unique value proposition
  • Save money by targeting
  • Create limitless sources of content
  • Transform your marketing and your business
  • Keep ahead of industry trends and marketing platforms

Or just continue assuming you know the answer. It’s up to you.

If you’re an independent brand just starting out, or you are looking to transform you strategies then try to reconsider your approach and take some advice from the points above.

Fancy a bit more insight? I’d love to chat! I offer 30 minute free consultations to help you discover what’s best for you and your brand. Book me HERE!

Stay unique – be a data geek!

 

 

Sarah Seaton
hello@sarah-seaton.com