The role of any media plan is to move the consumer, whether to see, think, feel, do or whisper to their friends. The best brand leaders can observe how their consumer thinks at each stage of the consumer journey, and then use the right media choice to move them along.
How connected is your brand?
For unknown or indifferent brands, invest in the early part of the consumer journey, with media focused on building awareness to establish your positioning in the mind of consumers to separate your brand from the pack. You also need to get your brand into the consumer’s consideration set.
Brands at the like it stage must separate themselves from others, to build momentum and create a following. Focus on closing the deal, by motivating consumers to buy. Use search tools and deal-closing claims at the point of sale to resolve any remaining doubts. You can utilize your own e-commerce website or sites such as Amazon, Expedia, or Groupon.
Brands at the love it stage must turn your consumer’s repeat purchases into higher usage frequency and become a favorite part of your consumer’s day. The creative must instill emotional benefits, linked closely to the consumer’s life moments. An excellent tool to use is to map out the “day-in-the-life” of your target consumer and place messages where they are most likely to engage. Use consumer insights to make the messages personal to make consumers feel special and attached to your brand.
At the beloved brand stage, you should begin shifting to a maintenance media plan, enough to maintain your brand’s leadership presence and perception. Stay aware of the competitive activity, which may force you to adjust your budget levels. At this point, you can shift some of your media resources into enhancing the consumer experience, to retain your happy consumers, and to drive a deeper love to harness an army of brand lovers. You can begin creating shareable experiences for your brand lovers to share with their friends.
Use the love curve to focus your media objectives and strategy.
Old school media focused on the top of the funnel
Old-school marketing used to yell their messages at every possible consumer using mass media, then move consumers naturally through the brand funnel from awareness to purchase and loyalty. With so few media choices, consumers could not escape the advertising. If consumers did not respond the first time, show it to them again and again. Back in the 1970s, it was all about the interruption of consumers, with brands focused primarily on day-after brand recall. Many times, the more annoying the ad, the better it would work. This media planning is not quite the sophisticated media strategy brands need today.
New-school media uses the bottom of the funnel to influence their friends.
New-school marketing whispers to the most loyal brand fans, hoping they drive awareness with influence to their friends. The word of a friend will bring more influence to their purchase decision than a random TV ad. As the brand moves to the masses, consumers look for the advice of trusted peers whom they respect to know enough about the latest and greatest of the category. They also look to the brand lovers, giving them evidence the brand does deliver what it promises.
Types of consumers
Brands evolve from a craft brand to a disruptor, to a challenger brand and finally to a power player. One significant distinction is what type of consumers they focus on. Using the consumer adoption curve, I use four types of consumers:
- Trend influencers
- Early adopters
- Early mass
- Late mass
I will use this thinking to show how brands can use influencers to trigger each type of consumer, as the brand evolves from the entry-level craft brand all the way to the power player mass brand.
The role of influencers on the consumer adoption curve
The trend influencer consumers always want the leading-edge stuff and are first to try within their social set. They want to stay aware of what the wise experts are saying, whom they trust or rely upon for knowledge. For brands competing in the car, sports, technology, fashion, entertainment, or foodie markets, there are leading expert reviewers or bloggers who have become the voice of the marketplace. Marketers who have a real revolutionary addition to the category should target and brief these wise experts to ensure they fully understand the brand story and point of difference. This information increases their willingness to recommend new products.
The early adopter consumers rely on their trend influencer friends for the details of new brands. However, they will also look to social icons as a secondary source for validation. These social icons could include movie stars, singers, or famous athletes. If the social icons are using the new product, this assures the early adopter the new brand is about to hit a tipping point. These consumers always want to stay ahead of the curve, so that they will adopt it now.
Early mass consumers look for the advice of trusted peers whom they respect within their network. These are the people we go to for advice on a given subject. The early mass also looks to early brand lovers for validation of proven success; This satisfaction level gives them the evidence the brand does deliver what it promises. The late mass audience is slow to adopt; they look to friends for recommendations but only when they feel comfortable enough to buy the brand.
Use your media plan to move consumers along their journey
To drive awareness, you need to stand out and be seen in a crowd. Invest in mass media to gain entry into the consumer’s mind using TV, digital, viral video, out of home, or magazine. Where it makes sense, sponsorships and experiential events can increase the consumer’s familiarity with the brand.
To move consumers to the consideration stage, use influencers to teach those seeking to learn more. Use public relations to make the brand part of the news, whether through traditional, social, or blogger channels. Engage the online user review sites like Yelp, Trip Advisor, or review sites.
For more complex or higher risk purchase decisions, consumers will rely on search for almost everything, even if to just confirm what makes sense. Marketers can use search sites, such as Google, expert review sites, and online content, or long copy print media. The brand website comes into play and should include the right information to close off gaps or doubts, then move consumers towards the purchase decision.
Media options to help trigger purchase, include point-of-sale advertising, with in-store signage, displays and sales materials to prompt consumers at the purchase moment. Remarketing is a great tool to push consumers who might feel stuck at the consideration stage to reconsider and buy.
After the purchase, you must turn usage into a ritual among your most loyal users. Cultivate a collection of brand fans, using VIP programs and experiential events with special deals. Layer in emotional advertising to tighten the bond.
Once you have a strong base, you can mobilize your brand lovers, by intentionally creating shareable experiences, which will trigger brand lovers to share with their network through social media. With the new social media tools, the smartest brands are getting their most engaged consumers to drive awareness.
Choose your media based on where your consumer is going, not where your the media is going.
Challenge yourself to get better at advertising and media
If you realized that how you show up as a client was the most significant factor in getting better advertising, do you think you would show up differently? If so, then show up right.
Be one of your agency’s favorite clients. Bring a positive spirit that inspires everyone to want to work on your brand and never treat them like they have to work on your business.
Stay focused on one target, one strategy, one benefit behind one brand idea. Avoid the “just in case list” where you add “one more thing.” The best advertising is like a bullhorn in a crowd. The worst advertising is like a cluttered bulletin board where you can’t read anything.
When building a creative brief or providing feedback, resist the temptation to provide your own creative ideas or recommend changes. When you are dealing with an expert, give them your problems, not your solutions.
Here’s an article on how to make advertising decisions.
You will find this type of thinking in my book, Beloved Brands.
I wrote my book, Beloved Brands, as the playbook for how to build a brand your consumers will love.
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- How to think strategically
- Write a brand positioning statement
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- Write an inspiring creative brief
- Make decisions on marketing execution
- Conduct a deep-dive business review
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