Is Your Marketing Driven by the Medium or the Audience? [Agency Collective]

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Jami Oetting
Jami Oetting




Data on how consumers browse, interact with, and ultimately, make a purchasing decision are becoming more and more sophisticated. The problem still lies in sussing out insights from the vast amount of information.

Does data on marketing on specific platforms and through different channels create better marketing? Or is understanding the audience, what they want and need, and personalizing marketing based on this information still the most important element of a campaign?

We asked a group of advertising professionals if brands should focus their efforts on marketing in a specific medium? Or should the audience drive their communication?

Consider the Overall Experience

The most fundamental development in marketing today is the shift from a communications-oriented model towards one focused on engaging consumers in relevant brand experiences.

With communications, the main objectives are typically increased awareness and consideration, so debating the merits of concentrating spend in a specific media channel to achieve 'effective levels' of reach and frequency could be warranted. However, with the growing phenomenon of multi-screen viewing, even this type of thinking may soon be considered a somewhat antiquated concept effectiveness.

Channels such as retail and digital are naturally becoming more important. Retail is intrinsically a highly dimensional medium. It is a physical environment that supports many forms of stimulus to engage shoppers including the product itself and many forms of merchandising.

While digital was once considered a channel to deliver a virtual form of what could be achieved in a physical retail space, it now serves as a medium that permits breadth and depth of engagement in a brand experience. Marketers are designing omni-channel brand experiences that can be consumed through a hybrid of physical and virtual media.

- Tim Nelson, President | TRIS3CT

Meet the Consumer

Marketers should go where the audience goes, pure and simple. Understand the consumer journey and which media choices they are making at each stage, and follow them. Understand how your competitors reach the same audience — and differentiate. In this way your marketing will be seen in less cluttered environments, and perhaps you will be seen as a leader rather than a follower.

- David Brown, Executive Vice President | Meredith Xcelerated Marketing (MXM)

Test and Learn

Understanding where and how to focus marketing efforts is a major challenge for brands. But it is essential to be mindful of the audience. Otherwise, you’re expending energy for little to no gain — just a hamster on a wheel, so to speak. To avoid that pitfall, and identify how to focus your marketing, there are a few key steps:

Know what you’re trying to accomplish: This sounds basic, but it’s one of those elementary stakes that is often skipped over. Everything must start with your overall business and brand goals.

Find the interesting: This is not just about understanding your audience; it’s about finding compelling aspects of their behavior, culture, and their motivations that can help you build a connection.

Orchestrate, don’t integrate: Rather than focusing on a specific medium, pick a few that fit your goals. And rather than put the same content in all places (a lazy approach to integration), leverage the strengths of individual channels to target your content strategy.

Always ask, ‘Does it work?’

Your work is never done. Pay attention, see what works, and see what doesn’t. Test and learn so that your efforts are always maximizing their return.

- Kunal Muzumdar, Managing Director, New York | POSSIBLE

Get Past Medium-First Thinking

There’s no doubt great work can be executed in a single medium, particularly when that medium is central to the idea itself. OgilvyOne’s “Magic of Flying” execution (on behalf of British Airways) was a captivating piece of work, not only done in a specific medium but also in a specific location. But as an industry, I hope we’re collectively past medium-first thinking. Take shopper marketing. There was a time when executing entire programs within a specific medium was the norm (e.g., the in-store environment). But the reality is the digital blur means no medium is an island.

Today, the in-store environment is now a digital environment thanks to mobile devices, proximity solutions, and loyalty programs integrated into the retail experience. Audience-first thinking has to be at the heart of modern marketing. Developing a deep understanding of the myriad of non-linear customer journeys for different segments, and even individuals, has to be the foundation of strategic, creative, and media considerations. With this knowledge, agencies and marketers can identify moments of potential engagement that matter, the media best suited to that moment, and the device that content is consumed through.

- Greg Andersen, Managing Director, LA | RAPP

Build Relationships by Targeting

To engage consumers it’s not about the platform or the audience; it’s important to think in terms of ‘and.’ Consumers — especially younger, digitally savvy Millennials – are more focused on overall ad relevance. In fact, 60% of 18- to 34-year-old consumers don’t mind advertising, but only if it’s relevant to their needs. The right message delivered at the right time on the right platform shows the audience a brand has done its homework.

Brands should consider three main criteria before deciding on a platform and message: 1) know your audience, 2) speak their language, and 3) understand their world. This approach gives brands the opportunity to build relationships with consumers, rather than engage in a one–off sales pitch.

- Jamie Gutfreund, CMO | Noise | The Intelligence Group

Focus on Integration on the Right Channels

The right approach depends on the size of the marketing budget and the brand’s objectives. For more budget-challenged brands, concentrating funds on a single medium to make a larger impact could work well if the medium is well-aligned with the target and the objectives. However, in the highly media-fragmented, multi-device world we live in, it’s rare that a single medium would be the most effective approach. Most marketers need a variety of channels to successfully address different products, target audiences, and marketing initiatives. The real challenge is how to integrate communications across media so they build on each other, rather than stand alone in silos.

- Brian Dunbar, President | David&Goliath

Recognize ‘Moments of Truth

There are many opportunities for marketers to connect with audiences; shifts in consumer behavior require marketing efforts to focus on the individual customer, not a specific medium. Consumers may be in the driver’s seat, but marketers have the power to map their journey using insights enabling technology and creative to improve their business. This paves the way for strong customer engagement while building brand reputation and loyalty. It’s more about recognizing opportunities to connect with customers — opportunities I call ‘atomic moments of truth,’ where a brand can connect with a customer on a personal and emotional level, influence their buying behavior, and lay the foundation for a lasting relationship. How a brand responds at any ‘atomic moment of truth’ can impact the relationship between the brand and the customer. Marketers must use insights and data to deliver the information the customer needs, when, where, and how they need it. It’s not about the marketing medium itself, but about understanding the customer and communicating in the arenas they’re engaged in. We need to transcend marketing mediums and help brands build relationships in today’s evolving marketplace.

- Andy Frawley, President | Epsilon

Put the Audience First

Marketing efforts should always put audience first.

Understanding the media preferences of audiences is fundamental to reaching the right target. Here are several other factors that drive an audience-centered media strategy:

Creative and Media Alignment: The most powerful communications occur when we align the creative message to the channels we’ve selected. Making this link facilitates comprehension, drives audience response and enables engagement.

Content and Context: Creative and media alignment are maximized when we match content with context. We need to consider the environment in which the audience is consuming the message. Is it relevant to them? Does it empower learning? Does it inspire action?

Measurability: We need to measure the audience’s response against the KPIs established for the marketing effort. Instituting a marketing mix model allows marketers to use data to drive audience-centered, results-focused, and efficient media decisions.

- Tom Talbert, Group Director, Media Services | Lowe Campbell Ewald

Discover New Audiences

Marketing is about finding ways to strengthen the connections between a company and its customers. This takes two forms; communications and experience. In communications, we build a narrative, align the right message to the right customer at the right time and place. In experience, we bring that narrative to life and deliver on the brand promise. In both cases, we lead with the audience.

Armed with the right questions and answers, we know how to act, how to speak, and what we can contribute to the conversation to make a real connection. But it’s not completely an audience game. The medium itself plays a big role, because the medium can be the message.

In a digital world, the analog feel of print or physical objects or events can say something about a brand and what it cares about. Within digital, how big (or small) a platform is can say something about who the company is trying to connect with. Are we a democratic brand? An exclusive one? Sometimes, you do need to play in a medium where you don’t have an audience yet. This is how we uncover new audiences, new patterns for making connections, or open ground where there’s less noise.

- David Lewis, Group Director, Strategy | Organic


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