Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog post by Teresa Valdepenas, a creative strategist at DigitasLBi. See more about Teresa below.
It’s back – back to school season that is. We all know one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year is here and according to eMarketer digital spend is slated to increase 16%. But BTS shopping is no longer 3 weeks before school starts and no longer just about the pensive mom and her cart in the store, examining one among the myriad of notebooks 3 weeks before school starts.
If she’s not your one audience, then who is? When should you connect with the shopper and is the shopper Mom, Dad or child? What motivates your consumers to purchase and how do they do it – selectively over time or do they wait to pounce on last minute deals? Take a look at who purchases your products when and where. I’ve listed 5 possible mindsets for a little insight into how timing can play a big role in deciphering your consumers when they shop.
The Prepared & Productive
For some BTS shoppers, the race begins 2 months in advance (see here.) This group of people is driven to be productive, check to-do’s off their list and feel prepared. They actually start early enough to enjoy the process. It’s for these novelty-seeking preparers that we’re seeing the season arrive so early this year. More than ever, it’s forcing traditional shoppers out of their regularly scheduled 3-weeks before routine. No one wants to miss out on the latest styles, so reinforce their decisions to buy the latest and greatest. Both mobile and in-store browsing are significant and ongoing behaviors here, so continue to reach out to them throughout their browsing period.
Last Minute Rushers
For those who don’t feel such a rush of accomplishment and pride when it’s all done and paid for, Last Minute rushers may be just your typical procrastinators. Many of us avoid whatever we aren’t excited to do or fear having to do. These guys likely see shopping for needs in general as a chore, waiting until the very last minute to do them. Make their job easier by bundling items together based on what they typically need to get started so they can run in and run out with what they need.
Value-Conscious Deal Thrilled
These cost-savvy consumers are willing to wait until the sales hit. They aren’t loyal. But they have a sense of pride knowing they’re getting the best deal, and feel smarter for having the willpower to wait. Convince them with price but also messaging that lets them feel all the wiser for getting a bargain.
Wait and See Observers
These guys are not motivated by feeling prepared, avoiding the negative or by getting a good deal. But they are motivated by quality and will wait to see what shakes out as the best or most widely reliable. Use reviews and advocates to work in your favor – post school-start, find ways to bolster your greatest products to hit home with this crowd.
Lastly, there’s a new group of young folks whose entrepreneurial spirit causes them to become their own brand (especially apparel.) They buy the latest sneakers to resell to their fans or buy to DIY and then resell to peers, known as ‘me-tail.’ Such opportunists naturally could be seen as competition for some brands, but others are willing to embrace this behavior and win the affection of these influential consumers (ie. ASOS, who have their own marketplace that allows people to sell new and used clothes.) Like these brands, you can encourage them to buy, help them customize and sell your products in a way that you can control.
Consumers 101: Timing is everything. Cater your messaging to your target in a way that’s most relevant to them at the right time and it will certainly resonate.
Further Reading: Back-to-School Time Is Now All the Time, eMarketer May 14, 2014 Mobile-weilding Dads embrace back to school shopping, 12 September 2012, Iconoculture http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2014/07/29/survey-back-to-school-shopping-kicks-off-2-months-before-school-starts/ http://rocketfuel.com/downloads/backtoschool8x11.pdf http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/181644/back-to-school-shopping-bringing-up-daddy.html Image Source: thinkmarketingmagazine.com About Teresa Valdepenas Teresa is a creative strategist at DigitasLBi. When she’s not traveling to seek out remote cultural experiences, she loves burying her nose in the latest book on social psychology and helping brands achieve their goals in an effective but creative way. She believes that understanding people and their behavior is the most valuable (and fun) part of successfully marketing a brand. And after all this reading, conversation and deep probing thought, she still believes good old-fashioned whole hearted laughter, whatever it’s about, is truly the answer to most things we need or want in life.
by Elisabeth Michaud
As a digital marketer, much of your job is a numbers game: you’re focused on the quantity of website traffic, email click-throughs, social media shares, new prospects and how to push them above a certain score when you’re nurturing them with campaigns. All these elements of digital marketing are important, of course, but it’s an easy trap to fall into focusing ONLY on these metrics. The funnel can be a blessing and a curse for us as marketers armed with Google Analytics and a finite budget.
However, step out of your marketer’s shoes for a moment and imagine the most powerful draw to a new brand you’ve experienced lately: most likely it wasn’t the email copy in a promotion that appeared in your inbox or the Facebook sidebar ad that linked you to a new whitepaper. What probably made you want to try a new brand or product was a recommendation from a friend or a story you heard about something the company did that stuck in your mind. The interactions we have with brands and products as individuals can be far more powerful than the digital marketing numbers game that we all play (and need to play, to keep our marketing engines humming, test improvements, and more).
Some of the most successful marketing for online companies has revolved around the way they’ve treated individuals, and how the individuals or news outlets spread that message when the company spent extra time or effort to take care of their customer. Think of the countless stories we’ve heard about Zappos, a major online footwear and apparel retailer, whose customer service associates have ordered pizza, sent flowers, and gone to extreme lengths to ensure their customers had a good experience. You can buy advertising that will reach as far as these stories of Zappos employees’ goodwill did, but you’ll never get the same return on investment from it.
Similarly, consider the payoff Canadian Airline WestJet saw when they created a fun Christmas surprise for just one flight’s worth of passengers (and captured the event on video) by showing up at their destination with gifts they’d told Santa they wanted just before departure. Listening to the request of each individual passenger on that plane, and making a big investment in one small plane’s worth of customers to reap major PR and marketing benefits throughout the rest of the holiday season, and beyond.
As another example, think back to a time you may have received a little extra special attention from one of your favorite brands. For me, I remember trying out a new fashion brand with an online purchase and receiving a hand-written note from someone in the company, telling me she hoped I enjoyed the garment I had ordered and thanking me for being a new customer. It took that person a few extra moments to write the note, but the return on her time? I told several friends about the incident, ended up Instagramming the garment and note, and posting a thank you to the company on Twitter, too – all creating ripples that spread from the little extra attention this company gave a new customer.
So when it comes to your next digital marketing campaign, think about how you can maximize the resources at your disposal to make a positive impact on the individuals who buy from you – not just the masses who receive your email blasts and trickle through your customer acquisition funnel. Like Zappos, WestJet, and many other brands who use this strategy, you’ll be glad you did when the “free” word-of-mouth marketing and publicity comes rolling in.
Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog post by Alysa Seeland, a content marketing expert for early stage startups. See more about Alysa below.
“Written kisses don’t reach their destination, rather they are drunk on the way by the ghosts. It is on this ample nourishment that they multiply so enormously.” – Franz Kafka
The digital age provides perhaps the greatest opportunity we’ve ever had to gain customers. We’re in their pockets, at their fingertips and in their newsfeeds. Being top of mind has never been so accessible. So why does it feel like an echo chamber?
As with any age, the digital age is simultaneously and opportunity and a dilemma. We’re poised on the tipping point of virality and obscurity. We have to craft every tweet, every blog post, every landing page for the possibility millions of viewers, often to find one or two who are truly listening
2.73 million blog posts are written daily – not to mention tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram photos etc, etc, etc. That’s quite a few “kisses” that never reach their destination. The sheer volume of content has produced what Jenna Walker, CEO of Artifact Uprising, has called “digital paralysis.” In many ways, our customers have simply stopped listening.
What does this mean? It means good content is more valuable than ever. Here’s how to make sure your content connects:
1. Listen First
The most important part of any form of communication is listening first. This can take place in a number of ways, but my favorite ways to do this are customers interviews (yes, actually get on the phone with them!), perusing the comments on popular blog posts in your industry, and reading the tweets around a particular subject.
As you’re doing all of these tasks, take notes of the themes that come up (on an actual notepad!). Then zoom out and take a look at what you’ve discovered. This will probably require some interlinear spelunking because as it turns out we’re not always good at saying what we mean.
As marketers, it is our job to connect the dots. We’re the Great Translators, and unless we do the diligence of understanding what it is our customers want, they’ll never care to hear what we have to say.
2. Speak To Add Value
One of the biggest mistakes I see content marketers make is the incessant need to publish something. When quantity increases, quality runs away with the spoon. Instead of tweeting every hour on the hour or publishing a blog post every day, gain your audience’s trust by starting small and concerning yourself with finding or creating quality content.
You want to train your audience to be interested in what you have to say. That starts with surprising them with your intentionality and ends with teaching them to expect great things.
3. Mean What You Say
“When you take a word…you must realize that you have not taken a tool that can be thrown aside if it will not do the job, but you are fixed in a direction of thought which comes from afar and stretches beyond you.” – Hans-georg Gadamer.
Just as your customers may not always mean what they say, you must doubly make sure that you do. Are you making your audience think of the very thing you wanted to avoid by telling them “Don’t think of a pink elephant”? Your job is to submit yourself to the significance of the “sign” or the meaning behind the words. Here are some questions I consider:
- What are all possible interpretations of this word?
- What is the likely interpretations given the socio-economic backgrounds of your varying customer profiles?
- Are there negative connotations of the word?
- Is it still worth using?
- Is this the best word available to me given how my customers talk about this problem?
Phew! That’s a lot. But when it comes to content, a little bit of dynamite on the right fracture does the same amount of work as lacing the whole mountain.
4. Your Audience Isn’t Everyone
“True communication entails a communion, a sharing of inner experience.” Leo Lowenthal
If your company is truly solving a problem, you’ll be able to find it through one or two shared experiences of pain, frustration, delight or bliss. When you narrow it down to these experiences, you get a clear sense of who you’re talking to, and most importantly, what they care about.
For example, if you’re a company selling a chemical-free product for pets, you’re targeting pet owners, not baseball fans. Trace the breadcrumbs back to the puppy days, to the belly up naps in their lap, to the muddy paw prints on their floor, to the toxic chemicals under the kitchen sink – ack!! You’ve found it – the place where pain threatens delight and that’s where you come in.
The goal is not to reach everyone or anyone, it’s to reach someone. That happens when you truly know who they are and what they care about.
The Takeaway? Make It Stick
In the incessant stream of content vying for people’s attention, success boils down to one thing. Want to know if your pasta is cooked? Throw it against the wall and see if it sticks. Content marketing is like that. The truth of the matter is you can do all of the above and still not quite get it right. That’s a frustrating place to be. Resist the urge to apply crazy glue and keep cooking. If you are truly paying attention to your customers and adding value to the conversation you will find something that sticks. And that, my friend, is an exciting place to be.
About Alysa Seeland
Alysa is the Content Manager for KDMedia LLC. When she’s not sipping espresso, creating an email campaign, or chasing one of her boys, she employs visual storytelling to create effective videos for SMBs. With both B2B and B2C experience, Alysa found her home in early stage marketing and believes success comes not from a secret formula, but navigating the everyday day violence of ordinary events.
By Kristin Dziadul
It’s hot. It’s sticky. We’re in no mood to put up with scope creep or petty debates when we’d rather be poolside soaking up every ray of sun this summer. But is that our biggest problem? Do we get too excited for the summer weather (and I don’t blame you, I’m born and raised in New England) and lose focus and make sloppy decisions? Possibly.
Yet, it’s not just this season that cause a lack of focus — it’s the lack of understanding for how to focus and where to focus that can be our real downfall. We’ve all been in those over-attended meetings where everyone throws in ideas, people get excited, and before you know it, the whole messaging platform and feature set of the product has expanded and shifted. Wait… What?! So what happens when your team doesn’t know how to get out of that black hole?
Having experienced this happen time and again, here’s how to focus your marketing efforts and core feature sets, even during the hot and sticky summer months:
Always remember what you stand for
This past weekend I was at Cape Cod and observed a beachside walk-up restaurant demonstrating clear signs of a lack of focus. First, there was a massive line — and I mean 40+ people. I tried to figure out why. Then I saw it: the menu. 50+ options, spread across multiple whiteboards, on printed out pieces of paper, and posted all over the side of the building. How could customers ever make a decision? This small restaurant was trying far too hard to be everything to everyone — even offering calamari and Cod dishes! Instead, they should have kept it simple with 1 easy-to-see menu with about a third of the options. I’m positive that would have cut their line down significantly.
After observing this, I realized it applies to so many companies that try to be everything to everyone. They feel they need to add more and more features and functionalities that don’t match the core of what the company does, and in turn, that causes all facets of the company to suffer since they’re spread too far and wide. So in short, remember what you’re on a mission to do (and do well) and stick to that. You will turn some people off, but perhaps they aren’t even your ideal customer.
Customer Needs/Wants/Desires First
You’ve probably been in those meetings where someone says “It’d be awesome if we had this in our app!”, and everyone claps and smiles at the idea. On occasion its fun to brainstorm all of the possibilities for what your product can do, but at the end of the day, it’s what your customers want and need that matters in your product. You and your team may not even be the target customer for your product, so as much as you’d love to see a feature added, do your users really want it?
Your customers may not be ‘wowed’ at all if they can’t even focus in on what to do with your product! Center back on your them and make sure that what you do is focused on the core set of features that makes them truly happy.
Realize your budgets, team capabilities and timeframes
It would be great if you could use every ad platform out there to accelerate lead gen and spread your messaging, but is that really affordable and manageable? Probably not. And yes, it’d be awesome to have an absolutely massive booth at your next conference to garner attention, but how much will that cost and do you have the staff to plan for and man that? Maybe not.
So anytime you’re planning for the next marketing campaign or activity, keep in mind how much money you realistically have to spend, how much time your team has to devote to it and when you need to realize results by. That will all be a big determinant of what you can do, and will keep you focused as well.
So whether it’s the summer heat making you tuned out and tired, or just the lack of organized decisions within your teams, use these above principles to bring back focus to the core of what you do. So have fun, dream of big plans, but always remember to focus in like the lens of a camera to make the right impact.
What other ways do you and your team maintain focus? Have things gone seriously awry, and how did you fix that? Leave your advice or experiences below!