Your media plan is a business investment to showcase your brand story. Media will help connect your brand with consumers where consumers are most willing to engage, listen, think, feel or act. The media must pay back your brand. This type of thinking should be part of your marketing plan and be part of your creative brief.
Questions to ask in your your media plan to figure out how to move consumers along their journey:
- First, how tightly connected is your brand with your consumer?
- Next, where can you best impact the consumer journey?
- Then, where will your consumers be most open to engage, listen, think, feel, and act?
- Finally, where is your consumer open to listening?
It takes a strategic mind to figure out brand love
Consumers change how they feel about a brand as they move along the brand love curve. It defines consumers’ feelings as unknown, indifferent, like it, love it and onto the beloved brand status. For unknown brands, the strategic focus should be to stand out within a crowded brand world.
As the brand becomes indifferent, the strategy establishes the brand message in the consumer’s mind. You need them to see a clear point of difference.
Then, at the like it stage, the strategy is to separate the brand from the pack. Create happy experiences that build a trusted following. And, at the love it stage, the focus shifts to tugging at heartstrings. The goal is to tighten the bond with the most loyal brand fans.
Driving brand love
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, your media plan 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.
We use our brand love curve to focus the media plan objectives and strategy on tightening the consumer's bond with the brand
Where can you best impact the consumer journey?
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 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. With 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.
In the brand strategy workshops, I show how brands evolved 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.
I introduced the idea of a consumer adoption curve, which leverages 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 to the power player mass brand.
The role of influencers on the consumer adoption curve
The trend influencer consumers always want leading-edge stuff and are first to try within their social set. They 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 wise experts. 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 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 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.
Your media plan should look at 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, turn usage into a ritual among your most loyal users. Cultivate a collection of brand fans, using VIP programs and experiential events with exclusive deals — layer in emotional advertising to tighten the bond.
Once you have a strong base, you can use your media plan to 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.
Your media plan should map out where your consumer open to listening
Use your media plan to place your media on the part of the consumer’s life where they will watch, listen, learn, engage, decide, and act. Align with life moments, whether they are parts of the day, the week, the year, or even milestone moments in their life.