The Key to Successful Brand Experiences (That Many Brands Are Missing)
Brand marketing can often feel like you’re standing in a large crowded room, yelling to get everyone’s attention — all while everybody else is yelling too.
Because it can be so difficult to reach a target audience with relevant brand experiences that stand out and get noticed, many brands scattershot their efforts across too many channels, hoping that something will stick.
As it turns out, there’s an easier way.
Instead of clamoring to get an audience to listen, what if marketers started listening instead?
The way people buy is changing.
Marketing has never been easy, but it used to be a lot more straightforward. Now, marketers are facing a maze of possible routes to get to their audience. There are more channels than ever, more data than ever, and more touch points than ever.
And more importantly, how people make decisions has changed.
Typical marketing wisdom focuses on the funnel: The customer slowly becomes more aware, intrigued, and engaged, until finally, they commit to the sale. However, in today’s information-saturated world, this is no longer a straightforward, linear process. The tried-and-true funnel is now more like a series of loops, in which buyers continually seek new data points from a variety of sources before settling on a purchase.
Here’s an example:
A 42-year-old mother of two is in the market for a new car. She likely starts out with some brands in mind, including the brand of car she already owns. However, she’s also asking her friends what they would recommend, and they mention some brands she hadn’t considered. As she gathers information (both online, via third-party feedback, and possibly even from some in-person test drives at different dealerships), she adds and discards options while she moves closer to (and sometimes, further away from) a final decision. Even once she has narrowed her choices down to two options, there is still the possibility of a new contender catching her eye, which could cause her to start the process all over again.
With this new reality, it’s time for brands to start thinking outside the funnel.
The good news?
Even if a consumer is on the verge of making a purchase decision, brands can still insert themselves into the conversation and make themselves eligible for consideration.
Make it Personal®
How, then, can an intrepid brand become contenders in this new, circular decision-making process? It comes down to a surprisingly simple concept: Make it personal®.
This applies in two ways:
- The online landscape has exploded. Something as “simple” as choosing between social media channels is now a daunting task. Add in the multitudes of other apps and websites that give people the opportunity to interact, not to mention the internet-enabled devices and personal digital assistants in our homes, and it’s impossible for marketers to cover every possible channel. Instead of chasing channels, brands need to chase customers.
- In B2B marketing, it’s easy to focus solely on the needs of the company and how your brand can answer those needs. However, every company is made up of people. And it’s vital to understand the people who are making those decisions. A 30-year-old CEO in Singapore may go through a VERY different research process than a 57-year-old CEO in Chicago.
For those two reasons, brands need to focus on their audience on a personal level, creating memorable and interactive experiences at multiple touch points.
One great example of knowing an audience and understanding how they tick is Sungard’s “Zombie Survival Kit.” The company, which sells enterprise-level disaster recovery solutions, knew that today’s C-suite tends to be less buttoned-up than in generations past. So, they capitalized on the popularity of zombie lore and created a “Zombie Apocalypse Recovery Plan” e-book that combined practical solutions with a fun story.
Another memorable experience was the pairing of IBM Watson with couture house Marchesa for the 2016 Met Gala. Not only did Watson suggest colors, fabrics, and styles for a new dress design, but the dress itself was integrated with LED lighting, connected by a web application. As people tweeted about the dress, Watson analyzed their words to determine the overarching mood, and the web app changed the lights on the dress to a color that Watson determined matched the mood. In essence, each tweet became a part of the dress, offering a memorable experience to the individual and useful data to both Marchesa and IBM.
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