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Audience Analysis Audience Segmentation Consumer Insights Content Marketing Direct-To-Consumer Podcast

Doug Stephens is an internationally recognized retail futurist. His new book, Resurrecting Retail, explores the challenges today’s big-box retailers face from online giants like Amazon and niche, direct-to-consumer brands. We discuss how retailers are responding with innovative, immersive shopping experiences that bring customers back to physical stores. Doug identifies the emerging technologies that will shape the future of shopping for the remainder of this decade and beyond.

Episode Transcript

Adrian Tennant: Coming up in this episode of IN CLEAR FOCUS.

Doug Stephens: The actual shopping experience itself is, to my mind, the most powerful and manageable, and frankly, measurable form of media that a retailer or a brand possesses. The problem is most of them don’t treat it that way. They don’t treat the experience as a media experience.

Adrian Tennant: You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, fresh perspectives on the business of advertising produced weekly by Bigeye. Hello, I’m your host, Adrian Tennant, VP of insights at Bigeye, a full-service, audience-focused creative agency. We’re based in Orlando, Florida, serving clients across the United States and beyond. Thank you for joining us. For over a year now, consumers have been adopting new shopping behaviors as a result of COVID-19. As we’ve discussed previously, grocery has seen the biggest shift from in-store shopping to online ordering with delivery or curbside pickup. But what of other product categories? The direct-to-consumer model had been making significant gains for close to a decade prior to the pandemic, driven in part by consumers discovering brands via social media, rather than traditional advertising. Retailers such as Target took note and have successfully integrated DTC brands into its mix. But other retailers are changing the entire notion of what a store is. A recent report from Nielsen IQ notes that quote “to today’s consumers ‘going shopping’ may be less about the actual act of purchasing and more about the holistic omni-powered browsing experience. As the landscape continues to evolve, the physical or online store of the future may not be a store as we know it today, but rather evolve to become more of an experience.” Our guest today predicted this evolution of retailing almost a decade ago in his book, The Retail Revival: Reimagining Business for the New Age of Consumerism. The author, Doug Stevens, is one of the world’s foremost retail industry futurists. His thinking has influenced many of the world’s best-known retailers, agencies, and brands, including Walmart, Google, Home Depot, Disney, BMW, and Coca-Cola. Prior to founding his firm, Retail Prophet, Doug spent over 20 years in the retail industry, holding senior international roles. He’s also the author of three groundbreaking books on retail innovation and a nationally syndicated retail columnist for CBC radio, as well as a featured contributor to the business of fashion. Doug’s perspectives on the business of retailing at the intersection of consumer behavior have been featured in many of the world’s leading publications and media outlets, and he speaks regularly to major brands and organizations. To talk about his work and some of the ideas in his most recent book, Resurrecting Retail: The Future of Business in a Post-Pandemic World, Doug is joining us today from his home office in Toronto, Canada. Doug, welcome to IN CLEAR FOCUS!

Doug Stephens: Thank you so much, Adrian. Thanks for having me.

Adrian Tennant: So, Doug, what is Retail Prophet and what services do you provide?

Doug Stephens: So Retail Prophet is a consultancy that focuses exclusively on the future of retail and consumer behavior. And we advise brands like, BMW, Walmart, L’Oreal, LVMH, and Google, and all focused on this issue of the 5 to 10-year horizon of retail. You know, what’s changing? How are consumer behaviors manifesting in different ways? How do retailers need to plan strategies for that new environment? And certainly for an ever-changing competitive landscape, not the least of which have been many of the changes that we’ve seen in the last year or so.

Adrian Tennant: Doug, did you find retail or did retail find you? I’m curious, did you have any family members that worked in retail when you were growing up?

Doug Stephens: I did actually. My elder sister spent many years working in department stores, and she worked with Macy’s, but that in no way, shape or form influenced my decision to get into what many call, the accidental profession, retail. But it did turn out that it was one of my first, I’ll call it, real jobs uh, after getting married. I got into retail very much on the ground floor of the industry as a young person, kind of working my way up through the ranks of retail companies in both Canada and the US. Starting on the sales floor and finishing as the general manager of a relatively large US company. So that was the beginning. And then, in 2009, I founded Retail Prophet, having had the experience of working in the retail industry and experiencing firsthand how shortsighted an industry it tended to be. As you can appreciate around 2008, 2009, the whole world was sort of imploding. The economic landscape was changing, technology was rapidly changing, certainly a changing of the guard demographically in terms of consumer groups. And so it seemed to me at that point that the world needed a narrative that was looking out on this horizon with a little bit more prescience perhaps than the usual reactive nature of retail.

Adrian Tennant: Your second book, published in 2017, is entitled Reengineering Retail: The Future of Retailing in a Post-Digital World. Doug, what did you mean by post-digital?

Doug Stephens: Yeah, the term was chosen very deliberately, because it was my feeling, Adrian, that by 2017, the presence of digital or the presence of technology in a consumer experience was really no longer a novelty or a surprise. It was my belief – and I maintain that belief – that we live in a world where consumers I think are more surprised these days by the absence of technology than by its presence. You know, we’re sort of mystified when we find ourselves in a situation where we can’t benefit from the introduction or from the use of technology. Just to give you an example, I was in a big box store just this last week and I asked a pretty simple question regarding a product that I believe that they might’ve had and it was sort of reduced to guesswork on the part of the sales associate. I asked if they had a certain product and they said, “I think we do. And I think it’s over here.” And in the back of my mind, I’m thinking, “Well, are you telling me that there isn’t a piece of handheld technology or some other piece of technology that can’t tell you exactly where that product is in your store?” So again, I think as consumers, these days, we are more surprised when there’s an absence of technology to assist us then than when there is. So I believed for that reason, we were really living, not in a digital world, but in a post-digital world.

Adrian Tennant: One of the themes you introduced in Reengineering Retail and expand upon in your new book, Resurrecting Retail, is the idea of the store as media. Now, as you know, one of the fastest-growing areas of ad placement is in-store media, with retailers including Walmart, Target, and Kroger creating in-house solutions to offer ad space to CPG brands that they sell. But that’s not what you mean, correct?

Doug Stephens: That’s correct. Yeah. That’s not what I’m referring to. What I mean is that the actual shopping experience itself is, to my mind, the most powerful and manageable, and frankly measurable form of media that a retailer or a brand possesses. The problem is most of them don’t treat it that way. They don’t treat the experience as a media experience. Historically, as retailers, we’ve gone out to the open market. We’ve bought media, we’ve bought advertising in an effort to acquire customers, to gather brand recognition or brand awareness. And then if we’re successful in doing that, we move those consumers to a point of distribution or points of distribution to transact sales. The problem is stores are now the media itself and media in many ways is becoming the store. As a consumer now, I don’t look at advertising as a mere call-out to go to a store. The advertising is the store. I can buy directly from TikTok, from Facebook, from Instagram, from any piece of media that falls within my grasp. So many retailers would say, “Well, if media is becoming the store, does it not negate the necessity for stores?” And my argument is no, not at all, because it’s actually a trading of roles. Physical stores are becoming a very powerful media channel. And I’ll just explain very briefly what I mean by that. We have to sort of start from a place where we accept that the going in, the premise of effective media is that there is an audience for it. Obviously, we want to try and create media experiences, wherever there’s an audience that can enjoy that. If we go back a thousand years ago, that point of gathering an audience was the marketplace. That was really the primary channel through which consumers got information, where they communed, where they connected with friends and family, and ultimately where they conducted commerce. Over time, that was displaced somewhat by other forms of media, whether it was print media, radio, television. And today, of course, digital is the campfire that we all gather around. But the problem is digital is actually becoming prohibitive as a means of acquiring customers. From a cost standpoint, there are brands today already that are saying, “Look, we just cannot afford to acquire incremental customers using digital media. The cost is too high. And in many cases, it exceeds the lifetime value of that consumer.” But when I refer to stores being media, I’m certainly not talking about the networks that, as you mentioned, many retailers are putting in their stores to just inundate us visually and audibly with more and more advertising. I’m suggesting that the experience that I have in a Kroger is actually the most important form of media that Kroger can execute. So it’s a different philosophy entirely.

Adrian Tennant: In Resurrecting Retail, you define retail archetypes. Doug, how did you arrive at this concept?

Doug Stephens: The idea of brand archetypes is not new. Brand archetypes have been around in conversation in marketing circles for years now. But this notion of retail archetypes came out of a conversation I was having with a fellow named Ben Kaufman who’s the founder of a store called Camp in New York City, they now have multiple locations. But Ben was talking about this toy store that he started – Camp – and suggested that the issue confronting every retailer is that they need to be the answer to a consumer question, but the question can’t simply be, “Where can I buy a toy?” or “Where can I buy a new pair of shoes?” or “a new dining room set?” because the answer to that increasingly is “anywhere.” Go online and in five minutes you can have a thousand different choices of places to buy toys. His point was that brands need to become the answer to deeper questions. So in his case, he said, we are not the answer to the question, “Where can you buy a toy?” We are the answer to the question, “Where can I go with my child to spend quality time, to have really meaningful time, time well spent?” So this conversation sort of got me thinking. If that’s a question that consumers are asking, “Where can I go to spend valuable time?” then what other questions are they asking? What other questions can brands be the answer to? And so I began to really explode that thinking out and looking at it across different boundaries. So can brands be leaders in the cultural space? Can they be a lightning rod for social issues, for environmental issues? Yeah, absolutely. A brand like Patagonia doesn’t answer the question, “Where can I buy outdoor apparel?” Because again, the answer to that is anywhere. Patagonia answers a different question. That is: “Who aligns with my values? As a human being, what brand out there is resemblant of my values as a person?” And so I just started really looking at this at a more granular level, you know, and really trying to explore many of these evergreen questions that consumers are asking that brands can step up and be the answer to. Because I think that all brands today find themselves in this same place, Adrian. It’s that no matter what you sell, the internet has commodified it. The consumer has an endless well of choice in every product category. So every brand needs to be the answer to a deeper question or a more important question than “Where can I get this product?” And if you can be, if you can manifest that, not just by declaring it, but by animating it through every fiber of your brand and every consumer interaction, then you take on a completely new position in the marketplace. And the term I use in the book or the phrase I use in the book is that purpose is the new positioning. Forget about your SWOT analysis, your Boston matrices, your omnichannel sales plan. The first question that every brand today needs to answer is: “What is our purpose to consumers? What fundamental need do we satisfy by virtue of our presence?” And if you can figure that out and bring it to life, then you can sort of move on to strategy part two. But this is a fundamental question that we have to answer.

Adrian Tennant: Let’s take a short break. We’ll be right back after these messages.

Dana Cassell: I’m Dana Cassell, Bigeye’s Senior Strategist. Every week, IN CLEAR FOCUS addresses topics that impact our work as marketing professionals – often inspired by data points reported in consumer research studies. At Bigeye, we put audiences first. For every engagement, through our own primary research, we develop a deep understanding of our clients, prospects, and customers, analyzing their attitudes, behaviors, and motivations. We distill this data into actionable insights to inspire creative brand-building and persuasive activation campaigns with strategic, cost-efficient media placements. If you’d like to know more about how to put Bigeye’s audience-focused insights to work for your brand, please contact us – email info@bigeyeagency.com. 

Adrian Tennant: I’m Adrian Tennant, the host of IN CLEAR FOCUS, the weekly podcast from Bigeye, featuring marketing professionals sharing their advertising strategies and tactics that are working today. Whether you’re an in-house brand marketer or an agency-side partner; a DTC startup or an established enterprise, I invite you to join me for lively conversations with guests that you won’t hear anywhere else. Fresh perspectives on the business of advertising served weekly IN CLEAR FOCUS. 

Adrian Tennant: Welcome back. I’m talking with retail futurist Doug Stephens, CEO of Retail Prophet and author of Resurrecting Retail: The Future of Business in a Post-Pandemic World. Of course, you’ve interviewed many retail professionals as part of the research process for your books and included interviews in your own podcasts. Are there one or two who stand out to you as being particularly innovative or visionary in their approach to creating the retail experiences of tomorrow?

Doug Stephens: Yeah. You know, I think there are certainly a lot of phenomenal people doing a lot of amazing things. But I really enjoy talking to people who I regard as being pioneers. You know, people that really went out on a limb intellectually, to try to kind of poke a hole in the universe as it were, as it applies to retail. So I mean, people like Rachel Shechtman, for example, who founded Story in New York City way back in 2011, hard to believe it was a decade ago. But a store that really was the ultimate media experience. It was really a store that was designed to be like an editorial experience, a community experience. A store that really did not rely on the sale of product, but really, made most of its revenue through brand endorsements and activating brand experiences. So, you know, people like Rachel that really, as I say, were tremendously innovative and taking risks at the time. I would also include in that, someone like Vibhu Norby, from a company called b8ta, that again said, “You know, maybe there’s a different way of monetizing products at retail, and maybe it’s not through the sale of the product, but rather by capturing the data of interactions between consumers and those products. And maybe there’s a means of monetizing that data through subscription with brands who are interested in getting that sort of market information and consumer information.” So it’s really folks like that that I regard as the true explorers, you know, in this industry and the people that forged a new path that I think, frankly, it’s taken a decade for many people in the industry to appreciate.

Adrian Tennant: Well, we heard recently that WeWork is rumored to be collaborating with Saks Fifth Avenue to create spaces that combine areas for working and retail. What are your thoughts?

Doug Stephens: So when the story broke, as, as you can imagine, the peanut gallery that exists in the retail industry had a lot to say about it. There were kind of boos and mostly boos and jeers coming out of the audience on this when people couldn’t fathom, like, “What’s the connection here? Why would Saks Fifth Avenue be looking to create co-working space and who on earth would want to pack their lunch every morning and head off to a department store to work?” And on the face of it, I’m the first to admit it doesn’t seem like a natural parent but I think that what you have to appreciate in order to understand this move is that HBC – Hudson’s Bay Company, the corporate entity – is not really a retailer. And I mean, let’s face it, they haven’t been a retailer for about a decade. They are a real estate holding company. That’s really, to my mind anyway, that’s what they do. And the last decade of moves, frankly, have been focused on real estate, not on retail. I would argue that HBC hasn’t really had a retail strategy, you know, for many years. So if we look at this as a strategic move by a company that believes fundamentally that most of the space that it holds as assets are really just that they are real estate assets. Then looking at trying to optimize those real estate assets makes perfect sense. You know, asking yourself “What else could be in this space? How else could this space be utilized or have value?” And so on that level, I appreciate their curiosity. I appreciate their willingness to experiment with things that do make people stand up and say, “What the hell is that all about?” You know, we need more of that, you know? And frankly, if everyone agrees with something that you’ve done and believes that’s the right thing to do, then it probably wasn’t that innovative in the first place. So whether or not they’ll succeed is beside the point. I think the two key points are first and foremost, HBC is not a retail company. They’re a real estate company. And secondly, they too are just prodding and poking at the universe, trying to understand where there might be value, where there could be a wellspring of value. So I don’t fault them for that.

Adrian Tennant: Well, staying with rumors, The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Amazon has plans to open several large physical retail locations in the US that will operate like smaller department stores. This could extend the company’s reach in its sales of clothing, household items, electronics, and other categories. So Doug, what’s your take on this latest development from Amazon?

Doug Stephens: Yeah, it’s a really interesting development. It’s one of those that when you read it, you say, “I’m not surprised.” It’s not surprising, but it’s certainly interesting and compelling. And in a weird sort of way, you know, one of the old credos in any investment community is that you try to determine where everyone is running to. And if you’re smart, then you run in the opposite direction and right now, the retail industry as a whole is running away from physical retail and running toward digital. So what does Amazon do? Amazon takes exactly the opposite approach and they run toward the physical world. Now, this isn’t Amazon’s first foray into physical retail. Of course, they bought Whole Foods several years ago. They have opened Amazon Go stores, Amazon Four-Star stores and if we’re being completely honest, their track record in physical retail isn’t that extraordinary, really. Having said that, this makes a lot of sense. There are things that are simply difficult to buy on Amazon and difficult to buy on any retailer’s website, frankly, things that require more consideration, things that require touch and feel, complex products that really require more information or confidence before a consumer’s willing to make a purchase. And of course, apparel falls into that category as well. So that makes sense. This also provides a local logistics point, a point to distribute products from, a point to collect returns from, which would only add efficiency to Amazon’s bottom line. It also gives them an opportunity to collect more data about how consumers shop in physical environments. Amazon knows full well how we behave online, but it gives them an opportunity to create yet another data point in the marketplace to begin to connect consumer behavior between the online world and the physical world. And then there’s the more sinister side. It also gives them the ability, as we know from past announcements, it gives Amazon the ability to absolutely tank the market caps of companies like Kohls, who could potentially even become acquisition targets. We know that anytime Amazon merely clears its throat and sort of fixes its gaze on a category, they have a tendency to really rock the market caps of incumbents in those categories. We’ve seen them do it in the pharmacy sector. We’ve seen them do it across various categories. So that could be potentially the play here as well. But I think the big message to the marketplace, Adrian, and my opinion is that this is a warning shot across the bow of all physical retailers. And most specifically, I’m thinking of categories that have sort of dodged the bullet up until now, categories like home improvement. If Amazon can open a quote-unquote “department store” and sell in the physical world, well, that brings them one step closer to selling lumber and concrete and building supplies and maybe doing a much better job of it than the incumbents in that category. So, I think everyone has to take this very seriously. And above all, Amazon has the luxury to spend a tremendous amount of money doing this and sticking with it and experimenting. So, yeah, not a surprise. It could have many, many strategic dimensions, but something that everyone in the retail industry should be taking note of, for sure.

Adrian Tennant: Doug, you’re the author of three books, a consultant, a podcast host, a writer, a keynote speaker. That’s a lot to juggle. What’s your process for generating consistently high-quality thought leadership content across multiple platforms?

Doug Stephens: Oh, thank you for that. I guess the first thing is, you know, cast a wide net. Retail doesn’t exist in a vacuum. No industry exists in a vacuum and retail, perhaps more than others, is affected by a number of different things. So I look to pop culture, music, politics, and art. All of these things are places of great value and categories that influence consumer behavior. So I think we can learn a lot from looking outside the retail category as well. I think the other thing is to look for a counter-narrative. Industries like companies tend to succumb to groupthink, so always look for what others might be missing. For example, in Resurrecting Retail, as the pandemic sort of took its toll on the industry, a lot of people were pointing to the idea that the pandemic was really just an acceleration of trends that were already in play. And it would be easy to jump on that narrative train and just run with it. But my feeling was that there were probably deeper undercurrent things that would have only happened as a consequence of the pandemic that might actually have a more devastating impact on the industry. So I went digging for those, you know, digging for the counter-narrative. And then finally, don’t simply document facts, because the internet does a wonderful job of that for us. Tell stories, put your facts and information into the form of a story that people can actually embrace, they can assimilate, and they can build into their practice, going forward. Stories are probably the most powerful way to help people learn. So those are some of the things anyway that I follow. And it seems to work.

Adrian Tennant: So Doug, when it comes to securing new clients for Retail Prophet, which of the content channels work best for you? Is it keynote speaking events, the books, or the podcasts?

Doug Stephens: That’s a great question. And frankly, it’s one that I’ve never really even thought about that way – I’m almost ashamed to admit that I don’t personally pay much attention to which channels are more effective or less effective or where we have an audience. You know, we have people here that do that. I tend not to be one of them. But the way I look at it is this: I think that ultimately your brand is a zeitgeist of all that you bring to all channels. It’s every piece of content that you put out. It’s every narrative that you create. And ultimately, I think that it has to be provocative. It has to be challenging. It has to give people the sense that they’ve grown by virtue of listening to you. They may not agree with everything you’re saying, but it’s expanded their thinking and presented them maybe with an alternate view. And I think if you can consistently deliver quality, regardless of channel, ultimately you will create a market, you will create a tribe, so to speak, that follows you, and powers your business. So that has always been my focus is really, regardless of channel, just always try to create something that people remember and that people appreciate.

Adrian Tennant: That’s great advice. If IN CLEAR FOCUS listeners, would like to learn more about you, Retail Prophet, your podcast, or your books, where can they find you?

Doug Stephens: The mothership is RetailProphet.com. And if you go there, you’ll find links to everything else: books, podcasts, articles, you name it. RetailProphet.com, and that’s Prophet with a “P-H.”

Adrian Tennant: Doug, thank you very much for being a guest this week on IN CLEAR FOCUS.

Doug Stephens: It was my pleasure indeed, Adrian. Thank you very much.

Adrian Tennant: Thanks to my guest this week, Doug Stevens, CEO of Retail Prophet and author of Resurrecting Retail: The Future of Business in a Post-Pandemic World. You’ll find a transcript with links to the resources we discussed today on the IN CLEAR FOCUS page at bigeyeagency.com under “Insights.” Just select “Podcast.” Now, if you enjoyed this episode, please consider following us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Audible, YouTube, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Thank you for listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS produced by Bigeye. I’ve been your host, Adrian Tennant. Until next week, goodbye.

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Audience Analysis Audience Segmentation Consumer Insights Content Marketing Persona Building Podcast

This week’s guest is a content strategist who believes traditional Buyer Personas often fail to deliver the results marketers expect. Adrienne Barnes shares her process for creating the “Best Buyer Personas” and explains how her research pointed to improvements that eliminate many subconscious biases that traditional Persona development practices introduce. Adrienne also discusses some of the practical ways in which Personas can help align the work of sales and marketing teams.

Episode Transcript

Adrian Tennant: Coming up in this episode of IN CLEAR FOCUS.

Adrienne Barnes: Who are the buyers, what is the job they’re trying to accomplish? And what is the information that we need to know internally, that’s going to help us reach these people? So a buyer persona to me is all of the information relevant to reaching your best buyer.

Adrian Tennant: You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, fresh perspectives on the business of advertising produced weekly by Bigeye. Hello, I’m your host, Adrian Tennant, VP of insights at Bigeye, a full-service, audience-focused creative agency, we’re based in Orlando, Florida, serving clients across the United States and beyond. Thank you for joining us. As we’ve discussed previously on this podcast, in today’s economy, many people’s purchasing behaviors have been permanently changed as new habits formed during the pandemic. That’s true for both consumers and businesses so now is an ideal time for companies and brands to review their existing buyer Personas or to think about creating entirely new ones. Our guest today believes that buyer Personas not only help organizations understand customers and prospects better, but also make it easier to tailor content, messaging, product development, and services to meet the specific needs, behaviors and concerns of different target audiences. Adrienne Barnes is a content strategist, helping SaaS and tech companies learn more about who their audiences are. Her insights become buyer Personas that inform user experience design and unique content pieces. Adrienne’s approach to customer-centric marketing is all about creating content that nurtures and serves a client’s customers best. To talk with us about crafting the best buyer Personas, Adrienne is joining us today from her home office in Dallas, Texas. Adrienne, welcome to IN CLEAR FOCUS.

Adrienne Barnes: Thank you, Adrian. Thanks for having me. I’m glad to be here.

Adrian Tennant: Adrienne, you started your career in content marketing. How did you first encounter Buyer Personas?

Adrienne Barnes: I was a freelance writer writing for B2B SaaS companies and having a degree in English, in my former career I was an English teacher. The first thing you know to do or ask when you start a piece is who’s the audience? Who am I writing to? what is my tone? What kind of message am I trying to get across? And some of my clients couldn’t tell me in detail or with any kind of detail that mattered to help me formulate the piece. It was “This is the job title. Here’s some demographic information.” Or they’d hand me the slide deck with 38 slides full of information, but none that actually would really help create some content marketing. None of it was actionable. It was very challenging to say, “Okay, now I know this, here’s what we can do with it”. so there were quite a few that didn’t understand that. And then, on the other hand, I had a few who had some really great Personas, so who they really knew, and they had a different way of segmenting and they were very actionable. So seeing the stark differences between the kind of content we could create when you clearly knew your audience and their pain points and the kind of content you could create when you had very vague ideas, really led me to believe that this is something that there’s a need and there’s a better way of going about it. So that’s how I got into creating Buyer Personas

Adrian Tennant: And what’s your definition of a Buyer Persona?

Adrienne Barnes: See, and this is where I get some maybe some misunderstanding. I don’t want to say flack, but some people who are old school, standard marketers, maybe they’re teaching marketing to people. They don’t necessarily love my approach to Buyer Personas. So my approach is where really, it’s not just this demographic, topical information of here’s their job title, here’s their name. It really does go into who are the buyers, what is the job they’re trying to accomplish? And what is the information that we need to know internally, that’s going to help us reach these people? So the definition of a Buyer Persona to me is all of the information relevant to reaching your best buyer. So sometimes that’s not necessarily all of your buyers. It’s not a large segment of people we really want to identify who the best buyers are and then make sure that we’re creating the step that’s going to reach those people. 

Adrian Tennant:  Before we look at how we construct Buyer Personas, I’m curious, Adrienne, what are the origins of Personas?

Adrienne Barnes: So I actually reached out to the person who says that they coined the term, Tony Zambito. He’s mostly on LinkedIn. He said he was the one in the beginning, in the eighties I believe, who was working with software companies and was like, “We need to figure out a better way to understand who our buyers are, understand who our audience is.” So still coming up with the challenge of trying to reach buyers and users, because when you’re in B2B SaaS or software, often the person who uses your product may not be the person who purchases their product. So there’s a little complexity there. and also understanding that we need to be able to know these people outside of just marketing, but even like product development, what kind of products do we need to build in the future? What kind of features do we need to build? So he really started this process, to understand and answer those questions for software companies. And his approach was also interviewing customers. And then now we’ve got so many more advancements with social listening and digital intelligence analysis and digital, tools that, it’s beyond even just a customer interview. It’s grown and evolved from there.

Adrian Tennant: Adrienne, you work primarily with clients in the business-to-business space. What does your typical process for creating Personas look like?

Adrienne Barnes: When I’m working with clients, I always want to start with what questions and goals are already internally inside the company. So I sit down with key stakeholders and really want to get an idea, like “What questions do you have about your customers or your users? What assumptions are you making?” Oftentimes CEOs, CMOs, CTOs, they know – “We think this, we’re making these assumptions.” So I want to make sure that I know clearly what are the assumptions that are being made? What challenges do we currently have? Where are there hitches or slowdowns in the sales process, or how do people buy even? Is it through a sales process or is it a demo? Really wanting to identify the internal questions. And then that is what I then go out and create the interviews. That’s how I then say, “Okay. So we don’t know the answers to these questions. This is what we still need to learn about our buyers. This is the stuff that will help us be successful.” So they’ll have goals. What do we need to know in order to reach those goals? And then I do interviews with buyers and users – about twenty – to make sure that I have a really good understanding of, their job to be done. Those pain points, their challenges, the words that they use to describe the product. I call those relational keywords rather than SEO keywords. These are the words that your customers or buyers are using to really portray the relationship they have with your product. So what are those words? The language that they’re using. And then I also do what I call a four-pronged approach to research. So we’ve got our customer interviews. We have surveys that we then go off and survey a broader audience. I do social listening where I plug in the key terms that I learned from the interviews and from this survey. And now I’m looking up and hearing what the people are saying, not just in our tiny community, in our tiny group of our buyers, but over the internet, like on Twitter, what are people saying when they talk about these terms? And then I use digital intelligence tools like SparkToro, and Audiense to help me really identify clearly who are some smaller segments within our larger buyer segment. Where are they online? What kind of podcasts do they listen to? What kind of publications do they read? And only that four-pronged approach to research becomes how I create the Personas. And once we get all of that data – and it’s usually a six-week process – once I get all of that information, I’m able to plug it into a full slide deck that really says, this is who your buyers are. These are their relationships. These are their responsibilities, here’s their hierarchy at work or the roles that they play into. This is how they are measured or how they deem being successful at work. Sometimes that’s really important and then really one of the ways that I filter through the entire buyer persona is the job to be done. What are they trying to accomplish? And then once they’ve achieved that, what are the benefits that they, get to see or receive after having met that job to be done.

Adrian Tennant: You’ve mentioned jobs to be done. Would you just like to give us a little bit of background on that?

Adrienne Barnes: Yeah. So I was doing the research for how to create a really solid Buyer Persona, which led me into research, like reading about how to do interviews, how to research, that filtered into the design world and implementation. And, as soon as I got into design and qualitative research analysis, Jobs to be Done popped up. And it was like, “Oh, this is what I think makes a stronger segmentation.” It’s a stronger Buyer Persona outside of a job title or age or something like that. This really does get to the core of what – especially with B2B, SaaS – what is someone trying to do? What do they need your product to do for them? What’s the thing they’re hiring your product to do? So sometimes you’ll hear people say, you know, they are jobs to be done-focused and it sounds contradictory to what maybe someone else’s saying that they do when they do jobs to be done. That’s because there are five pretty solidly different approaches to jobs to be done. I like to use the Clayton Christianson model where I’m really just trying to narrow down what is the thing they’re trying to accomplish and then identify the benefits they receive once they’ve achieved that thing. And when you identify benefits, that get used in your content strategies, your marketing strategies, knowing exactly the things that you are helping people do and then why they enjoy it. What kind of like the benefits they’re receiving from it, it’s really easy to correlate a lot of marketing and product development from that information as well.

Adrian Tennant: Adrienne, you recently conducted a webinar in partnership with Audiense, an online consumer insight and segmentation tool. You started your webinar by saying that most business-to-business Personas suck. Why do you think most buyer Personas suck?

Adrienne Barnes: So that’s become my like red flag, my warning flag is just “Buyer Personas suck!” And that’s because most of them do. We did a survey with Audiense where we polled marketers and we said, “Hey, do you guys create Buyer Personas?” And I think the results were like 85 percent said yes, absolutely, we create buyer Personas, they are important.” I was like, “Great!” The next question was “Now, how often do you refer back to your Buyer Persona or how often do you use it?” And most, 77 percent, said “Never. Like we don’t even look at it once a year. We don’t look at it for new marketing campaigns. We don’t look at it when we’re creating new products!” It just wasn’t something that people were using, but yet it’s something people were doing. So that led me to believe, “Okay, this is really become check the box marketing practice.” I had my assumptions because I’ve been on teams as a consultant where the message comes down from the CEO or the CMO that says, “Hey, you know, on our yearly to-do list, that buyer persona needs to get done. Can you go execute on that?” And somebody sits in a conference room or now at their desk and cranks one out in a day. Maybe it’s based off of some formal information, but often it’s just kind of assumptions and an internal fictional story. It’s an echo chamber of internal fiction that you have created. And that actually isn’t helpful. Nobody’s going to use that. It doesn’t help anyone create anything. So rather than tiptoe around the issue and try to convince people that Buyer Personas actually were good at all of that, I’m really saying, “You know what? They do suck. But they don’t have to. So let’s talk about how to do them better.” So that way we can actually get out of the mindset of that “Mary Marketer” is a Buyer Persona and know what a Buyer Persona is a data-backed, helpful, useful document and process that’s never done, that’s continuously being added onto. So that’s really why I was like, “You know what? Yeah, I’m just going to embrace it. People think buyer Personas suck. They do, but they don’t have to. So let’s teach them how to do it better.”

Adrian Tennant: Let’s take a short break. We’ll be right back after this message.

Seth Segura: I’m Seth Segura, VP and Creative Director at Bigeye. Every week, IN CLEAR FOCUS addresses topics that impact our work as creative professionals. At Bigeye, we always put audiences first. For every engagement, we commit to really understanding our clients’ prospects and customers. Through our own primary research, we capture valuable data about people’s attitudes, behaviors, and motivations. These insights inform our strategy and guide our creative briefs. Clients see them brought to life in inspiring, imaginative brand-building and persuasive activation campaigns. If you’d like to put Bigeye’s audience-focused creative communications to work for your brand, please contact us. Email info@bigeyeagency.com. Bigeye. Reaching the Right People, in the Right Place, at the Right Time.

Adrian Tennant: Welcome back. I’m talking with Adrienne Barnes, a content strategist, and creator of the Best Buyer Personas. Contrary to most traditional practitioners, you don’t believe that in order to be effective, Personas need a name, a face, or even a biography. So why not?

Adrienne Barnes: Yeah. So I was actually working on a team last year and we were putting together Buyer Personas and the marketing director. I said, “Hey, aren’t you gonna put this Mary Marketer, give them a name and a cute gender and go find a funny picture?” And he said, “No, I find that actually induces some bias.” And I found that really interesting. So I went on a little research hunt and wanted to validate that. Is that true? If you include a name, a face, a gender, and maybe even your cute alliterative name, does that create bias in marketing and product development? And come to find out, I talked to a lot of diversity and inclusion experts because I am not a diversity inclusion expert. I don’t even want to be put in that realm because these people are very passionate and knowledgeable. So I called them up – a whole bunch of different ones – and I said, “Hey, is it possible that if we name our Persona Mary Marketer and give her a picture of a 32-year-old shining, cute, little like white girl, is that potential for bias? And the answer was a hundred percent unanimously. Absolutely. So in our minds and there are five different types and I’ll see if I can remember them all. There’s beauty bias: so if we are showing these pictures we find an Unsplash photo, chances are we find that person attractive. We chose them to represent this Persona. We’re attracted to that picture in some way, for some reason, we find that attractive. Now, if we find customers maybe in customer support or out in the wild or whatever your situation may be, that don’t meet the picture, the image you have in your mind of who your attractive Persona is, you are actually going to show bias towards that person. And it’s unconscious, that’s another type of bias. You don’t even realize you’re doing it when you’re doing it. The unconscious bias was one that they mentioned quite frequently because it’s not something that you can train yourself out of. We all have our own histories. We all have our own personal stories and our own experiences and that shapes and forms our viewpoint on life, our perspectives. And they said, you know, “Another thing that you’re not going to be able to eliminate all bias in anything you do. And sometimes bias is actually healthy. But the thing that you should do is work towards eliminating it, where it could be harmful to groups of people.” So when I say, you know, there’s no reason to have a name, a gender, or, a picture with your Buyer Persona, it’s because what you’re trying to do is you’re taking a large group of people who are very diverse and who look very different, who have very different genders, and you’re saying it’s really this one person. They all can be represented by this one person. They actually can’t. They do have things in common and that’s what we should really be trying to find. What are the actual things they have in common? What are the actual issues and pain points and solutions they’re looking for in common? But not because they look like someone or they’re all a certain age. I use an example of if your buyer persona is a CEO and if you Google “CEO persona” and look at the images, most of them are older, white men, like just hands down they are. And that may be statistically accurate, right? Like I don’t know the statistics, but it could be 78 percent of older white men are CEOs, but still as a marketer, our job is to make businesses money. We are to market to our segments of people, where’s to find our audiences. And if we are establishing a situation where we’re saying, “This is the ideal, they look like this”, then we’re automatically eliminating large portions of our audiences. We’re automatically assuming every piece of content we create, every message we send out, every product we develop, is already eliminating somebody, another segment of our audience. Whether it’s even 12 percent of our audience or even bigger, just setting off from the get-go you’ve created a foundation of bias where you’re eliminating audiences. I’ve had people tell me, “I don’t believe in that woke stuff. I think you should have gender and all that stuff.” And I’m like, “Look, I’m not making a political statement. This is not me standing in front of people trying to say like, ‘oh, this is, you know it’s 2021.’ And this is just the way things should be because of some wokeness or political statement, it’s about reaching people in the best way possible. It’s about making sure that we’re not leaving out pockets of money, pockets of potential buyers, just because we’ve deemed that this Persona to be a person so that we can remember them.” I think that’s a false notion that we’re not going to be able to create content or develop products in a way that’s beneficial if they don’t look like a person to us. And I think that’s a lot of the arguments that I hear is that, “Well, if we don’t give them these names and these pictures, we won’t remember them. We won’t think of them. And we won’t do a good job of creating, content and information or products for them.” And I think that’s not true. I think we will absolutely do a better job if we segment them in a different way, in a stronger way. We’ll actually reach them with more empathy and in a much better way than just, “Oh yeah, that’s Mary Marketer.”

Adrian Tennant: So what’s a better way of segmenting customers?

Adrienne Barnes: So that really can depend on the company themselves. We’ve segmented customers according to jobs to be done. That’s one of the very basic ways that I can do it is where I can say, “Okay, really? What are the people trying to accomplish? Let’s group those people together. If there are users and then their buyers and that’s different. Let’s group them in that way.” Other companies I’ve worked with, they said, “No, it really does do us better if we segment according to user maturity, the maturity of the user within the company is so different and creates a need so many different, their own type of marketing streams, essentially. So we need to separate them up according to their maturity.” Other ones have said, “You know what? It really is according to the size of the company they’re in. And that really equates what kind of products of ours they buy and what kind of content they need to read.” It really is all about how do you segment your people in a way that you’re going to actually be able to create things: content, products’ features, support, that is going to be most helpful to them in a way that where they can understand, “Oh, you know what, they’re really meeting my needs. They’re really here. And they really do understand.” And that really does vary from company to company. So I always say, “Inside your own company, see what kind of groupings do you notice naturally form between your buyers, your users, community members.” And that’s always a really great way to say, you know what? That’s probably the best way to segment. I think people get stuck on having to segment by job title, because LinkedIn ads or Facebook ads, but that’s only beneficial for those ad segments. It’s not actually beneficial when you’re trying to get outside of a PPC campaign and really wanting to create an empathetic company that can market and support customers in a different way.

Adrian Tennant: As we discussed earlier, your webinar was part of a series hosted by Audiense. Adrienne, can you explain how you use Audiense’s tool to build better Personas?

Adrienne Barnes: So I love Audiense. Their team has been great. I started with them at the beginning of this year as their content strategist, and I was just on their team, helping them create content strategy. And then really every time I do a Buyer Persona, I use their tool. So they have quite a few different ways you can come in and use it, either keywords, bio keywords, you can actually add in social listening audiences and then really add that into Audiense, the tool, and figure out what our specific audience is talking about. What kind of things they’re looking for. But what I love it for most is its segments and its IBM Watson information. So I will go out and find out like, what are the words are people are using either through those conversations and surveys and social listening. Then I plug that into Audiense and Audiense tells me, “Okay, here are smaller segments of your audience that you didn’t realize existed.” And usually, it’s pretty surprising or it’s “Oh yeah, I forgot – now we can clearly see that within our one larger audience, there are like four smaller segments.” So now we can figure out where do we reach them on podcasts? What kind of PR campaigns need to be done? What kind of media needs to be done? Where do they go to learn something new? Where do they read their news from all that kind of information is. As well as the demographic information, which when I say you don’t want to segment your audience based on the demographic information, that’s absolutely true, but I don’t think that it’s just not important. Like you can include it in your Personas. It’s still important to know if 85 percent of your audience is male, then let’s know that, but we don’t have to make the Buyer Personas identity male if that makes sense. So we really want to make sure that Audiense’s tool tells me all of that stuff, the smaller segments, it gives the IBM Watson data, which is like, what are their personality traits? Are they more risk-averse? Are they conservative? Are they liberal? Do they have a positive affinity or is it more a negative tone online? It’s very interesting to get in and go through that kind of data and then make some connections and be able to, then market to your audience in a way that’s more meaningful and empathetic

Adrian Tennant: What are the main differences that exist between your approach to developing Personas for business-to-consumer versus business-to-business brands?

Adrienne Barnes: So it’s almost the same. The framework itself is very solid. The thing that changes is probably the internal goals are usually very different. Sometimes scalability,  growth, is usually always a goal. And then the questions that I ask during the interviews and the way that I reach out during the surveys is what’s really different. But the framework itself, all four approaches to data research or to market research are the same. We make sure we want to listen to the audience, figure out who they are, what are the words they’re using, the challenges, their pain points. That all has remained the same even if it’s B2C or B2B. I will find B2C people sometimes are easier to get on the phone, which I think people might think as a surprise. They really are, especially if they love the product, they have a tendency to wanna get on and share. B2B – they’re at work. They tend to be busy. It’s easier to cancel an interview with somebody than it is to cancel a meeting at work. So that’s been one of the stark differences in B2B to B2C, but the process itself is exactly the same for me. 

Adrian Tennant: Now you believe that Personas make for more empathetic marketing and customer support. How does adopting your approach help sales teams?

Adrienne Barnes:  So I believe that well-researched Personas do create better empathy and because we have a tendency to know more about the customers and the user themselves, we’re not trying to stereotype a large group of people into one. And so for sales, it’s almost the exact same way you’re able to then say, “You know what? I heard you say these things, I know that this is some stuff you’re probably struggling with. Customers like you have come and said this to me, are you finding those problems? Are you struggling with those challenges?” And every good salesperson knows it’s all about uncovering the other person’s challenges, uncovering their story so that you can then swoop in and meet that need. So once you know those very clearly, that job that they’re trying to accomplish, that main challenge they need, and the benefits that most of your Personas receive from them. As a salesperson, you figure out through your conversations, you uncover that, and then you automatically have your list of benefits. “Okay, you said this, wouldn’t it be great if you had this benefit. If it was actually like this…” You’re able to put them in that future mindset of “Look at how great things could be, much easier.” And I find when you’re able to actually meet people’s real problems and not just make a lot of assumptions about what they’re likely dealing with, it’s just a much more empathetic way to reach your audience, to reach your people. And especially for sales, when they’re doing those one-on-one sales.

Adrian Tennant: You talked about this a little bit at the beginning of our conversation, but I’d like to dive a little bit deeper. Adrienne, in what kinds of ways can Better Buyer Personas help content marketers?

Adrienne Barnes: So because a lot of this derived from my need to create better content marketing, every conversation becomes an idea for content. Usually, after one conversation, I’ve got three or four blog posts. Every time a client says, “I didn’t know how to do this” that becomes “How To/How We” content, right? We need to teach our users if they’re struggling and understanding how to use the tool in this way, then that becomes content we need to teach them. That’s some educational content. If they, during the conversation, say, “This was just amazing, we loved this thing”, that’s a case study. That’s your insights, that’s being able to explore and highlight those on your home pages or in your product pages. Any kind of wins that you uncover and they have really every conversation and every question for me does become a link to a piece of content, especially when I’m doing this type of research for the content strategies, much of my research process is very similar. So when I’m doing a Buyer Persona, the questions are a little different than they are for content strategies, but it’s very similar. And then every time I ask a question, when I’m researching for content strategies, I want to know, “What kind of things are you dealing with? What kind of struggles do you have?” and that goes directly correlated to your content strategies. It’s crazy, once you start to think about it that way, how clearly the connections can be made.

Adrian Tennant: And how frequently do you think marketers and sales teams should review their Personas?

Adrienne Barnes: I think anytime you’re about to launch a new product or create a new campaign or at the very least once a year just to look at it and be like, “Okay, is this still true? You know, if you created a Persona in 2019, it didn’t fit in 2020. And now even in 2021, there’s been so many changes and just the market and just the way people are purchasing and buying and feeling, in the words they’re using, and the language, and their pain points, those are changing and those are adapting very quickly. So I would make sure that it’s at least something that you are having those conversations and if you have them frequently, or if you do what I call continuous development. If you’re actually able to have those kinds of conversations, you’ll see the shifts in the market before you see them economically, you’ll be able to tell, “Oh, we’ve heard quite a few people say this. I think something like this is happening.” Or “I think our audience is starting to ship in this way” before three months down the line, when you’re looking at your sales data or you’re looking at your blog post data and things are telling you then, you get to predict it before it happens.

Adrian Tennant: Adrienne, if IN CLEAR FOCUS listeners would like to learn more about you and Better Buyer Personas, where can they find you?

Adrienne Barnes: I’m at BestBuyerPersona.com and I am @AdrienneNakohl on Twitter. So I hang out on Twitter quite a bit. And then if you’re interested, I do Buyer Persona workshops where maybe if you have a team but y’all just need a little bit of help, a little bit of guidance, I do that. I do full Buyer Persona projects where you say, “We don’t want to do any of it, we just want you to give us all the details.” I do that as well, and I do quick consultations where you’re like, “We really just have four questions.” I do one-hour consultations as well. So there are lots of different ways for us to engage and I’m always happy to chat and answer any questions I can. This is definitely a passion project of mine. It’s what I love to do. It means a lot to me so I’m happy to help.

Adrian Tennant: Adrienne, thank you very much for being our guest this week on IN CLEAR FOCUS.

Adrienne Barnes: Thank you, Adrian. It was so nice to be here.

Adrian Tennant: Coming up next time on IN CLEAR FOCUS.

Doug Stephens: Mall owners have to realize that you’re not in the commercial real estate business anymore. You’re in the hospitality and entertainment business. And your job in that center is to create a flywheel of amazing new brands, experiences, services so it’s a totally different kind of activity.

Adrian Tennant: That’s an interview with retail futurist Doug Stephens, next week on IN CLEAR FOCUS. Thanks to my guest this week, content strategist, Adrienne Barnes.You’ll find a transcript with links to the resources we discussed today on the IN CLEAR FOCUS page at bigeyeagency.com under insights, just select podcast. And if you enjoyed this episode, please consider following us on apple podcasts, Spotify, Google podcasts, Amazon music, or audible, YouTube, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Thank you for listening. I’ve been your host, Adrian Tennant until next week. Goodbye.

Categories
Branding Content Marketing Insights Paid Social

Podcasts have exploded in popularity. In turn, almost every content marketing agency has explored the power of this audio-only format to engage audiences. As a next step, imagine combining an audio podcast with the conversational ability of a traditional social site, like Twitter. Enter: Clubhouse, the social media wunderkind that everyone is either talking about or copying.

That’s how a Clubhouse marketing agency might describe this new and increasingly visible social app. Find out how Clubhouse works, some ways to use it for marketing, and what the future of interactive audio might offer.

How Does Clubhouse Work?

Clubhouse app users can choose from a selection of rooms to enter. Some examples of influencers who run Clubhouse rooms include philanthropists, entertainers, venture capitalists, and perhaps unsurprisingly, digital marketers. Entering the room automatically turns on audio, and visitors can “raise their hands” to ask for the moderator’s permission to speak.

Clubhouse’s exclusivity partly explains its mystique. While anybody can download the app, potential users must register a username and wait for an invitation to activate it. This controlled growth limits the app’s current user base; however, it also gives users a chance to gain access to even the most popular influencers.

According to Digiday, a few million people use Clubhouse at least once each week. That may pale when compared to the billions of logins to Facebook each day. At the same time, Clubhouse’s enjoys a very concentrated population of influencers, which offers businesses a fantastic way to make connections.

How to Benefit From Clubhouse Advertising and Marketing

Right now, Clubhouse does not offer any program for paid social advertising. It’s based upon networking and content marketing. On the other hand, businesses and individuals do have an opportunity to earn money from the app. Just a few examples include paid room memberships, sponsorships, and of course, marketing brands.

Of course, businesses could advertise their rooms on other platforms; however, since not everybody has a Clubhouse invitation, targeting can present a challenge. Instead, consider these examples of best practices for getting established on Clubhouse:

  • Organically develop an engaged community: Start by developing a profile that can motivate the right users to follow it. Engage in relevant conversations for visibility. Marketers new to Clubhouse may want to begin by networking with influencers who complement their own message. Compare this to getting established on any other social site by gaining the attention of influencers and their audiences.
  • Consider creating a room to solicit feedback: Whether it’s a new business idea or an established part of daily operations, try creating a room to ask for feedback. Very often, other entrepreneurs will stop by to offer opinions, and this provides a great networking opportunity for everybody involved. Also, don’t overlook the chance to provide feedback to others to gain attention.
  • Use Clubhouse to make company announcements: Connect an audience even more with a brand by using the site as a way to release your own audio press releases and bulletins. Clubhouse can work particularly well as a place to announce upcoming launches and even to ask for pre-launch feedback.

Instead of just using Clubhouse as a platform to network and promote new products or services, also consider it a potential source of finance connections. Since it’s grown quite popular with venture capitalist, Clubhouse can provide the perfect place to gain an investor’s notice. Even if all investors won’t offer to write checks, most will provide feedback that can help improve pitches and products.

Finally, is waiting for an invitation presenting an obstacle to getting started with Clubhouse? Putting out a call for one on LinkedIn or Twitter can yield positive results.

Forecasting the Future for Clubhouse

If nothing else, Clubhouse has already introduced a new digital media in the form of a social network based upon interactive audio. It combines some of the best features of social sites and podcasts. As an example, it’s interactive, and unlike with live video, nobody needs to fix their hair.

On the other hand, larger social networks have already begun to respond with their own versions. As an example, Twitter’s beta testing Audio Spaces. They want to give users a place to gather for live, spoken conversations. Also, Twitter already has some features that Clubhouse lacks, including transcriptions, reactions, and a report feature.

While Clubhouse’s premise appears promising, they may fade into obscurity or remain a niche platform if established social networks can deliver a similar environment with important upgrades.

Current Alternatives to Clubhouse

Since Clubhouse still has limited membership, not all brands will not find their target audience there. Others may feel the platform just doesn’t conform to their marketing style. Sadly, some entrepreneurs might even still be waiting for their invite.

In any case, it’s always prudent to explore some other alternative social networking platforms:

  • Discord: People probably mostly associate Discord with chat servers; however, it also offers video and audio chat capabilities. That means a business could turn a Discord audio channel into something very similar to a Clubhouse room.
  • Riffr: This platform lets users upload short podcast recordings, so that part isn’t live. However, Riffr also has social networking features, so both listeners and content producers can follow and interact with each other.
  • Traditional podcasts: At first, people might think of podcasts as more like one-way broadcasts. At the same time, it’s possible to receive voice, text, or video calls from the audience or guests, so in that way, they can be interactive.
  • Webinar: A webinar functions something like a podcast with the addition of video. Also similar, it first seems like a one-way medium. At the same time, it’s possible to accept chats and calls from participants, so a webinar can provide an interactive experience.

Is Clubhouse Marketing Worth Pursuing?

Clubhouse offers businesses a chance to interact with a relatively small but influential group. Some examples of Clubhouse participants include Oprah, Elon Musk, and Chris Rock. Less well known, but possibly just as important, venture capitalists hang out on Clubhouse to monitor trends and sometimes, find new ventures to fund.

If networking with powerful influencers, business funders, and other ambitious peers can offer benefits, good content marketers should find plenty of fertile ground to network and spread their message.

At the same time, Clubhouse has only existed for a couple of years and lacks the established brand, features, and membership of either the largest social sites or the most competitive alternatives. While investing effort into Clubhouse may offer opportunities, it’s also probably prudent to explore similar opportunities offered by other platforms.

Categories
Content Marketing

Ben & Jerry’s content marketing strategy involves bold flavors and social activism to maintain a positive brand and reputation.

From their fanciful flavor names to the way that they embrace political activism, any experienced content marketing agency should understand that Ben & Jerry’s provides a good example of a successful brand that does things a little differently. For example, most agencies will usually advise conducting market research as the very first step in developing a content marketing strategy.

In contrast, Ben & Jerry’s current CEO, Matthew McCarthy said that conducting too much market research can lead to mediocrity. Find out how this beloved brand has retained its market position by delivering what customers want without trying to spend to much time upfront attempting to even predict what that is.

What’s Different About Ben & Jerry’s Content Marketing Strategy?

Instead of creating a perception of maintaining just another high-quality ice cream brand, Ben & Jerry’s continues to generate a positive brand perception by working to disrupt their market and revolutionize society through their content marketing strategy.

Maintaining Their Reputation as a Disputer

So how can the CEO of Ben and Jerry’s say that too much research, a staple of most content marketing plans, can lead to mediocrity? McCarthy told Marketing Week that he spent years working for Unilever and for much of that career, they relied upon consumers to tell them exactly what they wanted. Of course, he agrees that this kind of research still provides an incredibly useful tool.

However, he’s learned that it’s impossible to please everybody and by trying, it can lead to not actually pleasing anybody that well. If you ask a random group of people to choose their favorite ice cream, a lot of them might settle upon chocolate, vanilla, or maybe, strawberry. Instead, Ben & Jerry’s has stood out by coming up with interesting and memorable concoctions that may or may not rely upon the old standby flavors as part of the mix.

Instead, they begin by having product development teams work with their flavor gurus, also known as professional chefs. After they’ve developed new flavors, they may test them by either sending them directly to market or by inviting small groups of Ben  Jerry’s fans to try a scoop. And he believes this practice continues to help them grow and maintain a reputation as a market disrupter, even though they’re an established brand that’s been around for over four decades and has a presence in at least 35 countries.

So, when Ben & Jerry’s introduces such brands as Phish Food, Cherry Garcia, and Americone Dream, everybody wants to find out what the buzz is all about. It doesn’t hurt that they’ve associated at least some of their flavors with celebrities. They can also glide a bit on not just their own media presence but also that of the people or concepts they honor and support with their delicious pints.

How Ben & Jerry’s Maintains Their Activist Image

Ben & Jerry’s dedicated one of the most popular flavors, Americone Dream, to Stephen Colbert. Not only that, a portion of profits also goes to some of Stephen Colbert’s favorite charities. Not only should an inbound marketing agency consider this an example of genius marketing, they should also take note that the favor’s really good.

Who wouldn’t like a fudge-covered pieces of waffle cones and caramel swirls drenched in a high-quality vanilla base? Plus, each pint helps such worthy causes as the environment, veterans, and disadvantaged children. Just mentioning it here will probably move a few more pints off the shelf. Don’t forget to try the Chunky Money while you’re at it. Besides sales, the extra attention has generated plenty of positive press from news agencies, supported charities, and of course, Colbert himself.

Ben and Jerry’s recent statement on white supremacy should not have surprised anybody who has followed a company that already introduced flavors like Pecan Resist and Justice Remix’d. Not only did their statement help them solidly their serious stance as a brand with a purpose, it also helped them align with activist movements.

What’s Activism Got to do with Ice Cream and Content Marketing?

When asked by Marketing Dive what activism has to do with ice cream, the CEO said, “Not a lot. Except we care about it, and our team cares.” Judging by the extra positive mentions that Ben & Jerry’s has received by blogs, news sites, and even activist organizations, it looks like their customers care too.

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Content Marketing

Goat yoga videos went viral through engaging content and good promotion. Add viral content to your social media marketing strategy. 

It’s been the butt of jokes, pun intended. People who have never seen it always ask if it’s even real. Comedians on late-night TV make fun of it. Still, goat yoga has turned into a serious business, mostly because of a successful content media strategy.

No content marketing agency or forgive me, guru, can give you the exact formula to guarantee a viral content marketing strategy. Still, it’s easy to pick out what viewers found engaging and sharable when they viewed goat yoga videos online.

Can goat yoga teach you how to get a video viral?

That’s My Idea! Marketing, a local content marketing agency for a goat yoga location, offered a very transparent glimpse into their social media strategy. Like any good marketers, they defined their target market. They decided taking yoga classes in a field with cute, little goats would appeal to the most to females who were at least 25 years old. Once they had their target, they promoted videos of the activity on Facebook. Of course, by then, lots of people had already heard of goat yoga, so their job may have been a bit easier.

According to CNBC, the original founder of Original Goat Yoga actually started gaining attention through a story and photos in Modern Farmer. The videos arrived somewhat later. She made a solid six-figures her first year just from viral media attention. During that time, images and videos of goats and yoga students in action spread fast. For her, the business grew so quickly that gaining attention was the least of her problems.

Instead, she needed to abruptly leave her full-time job and struggle to get the infrastructure in place to support all the people who wanted to attend classes. During that first year, her expenses kept up with spiking revenues because she had never planned to grow so fast. At least from a marketing perspective, it was a job well done. Later, she managed to develop revenue and funding sources to make the rest of her business as successful as her marketing.

The ingredients of the goat yoga viral content strategy

While the exact formula might not work for every business, it’s easy to spot the qualities of the photos and videos of goat yoga classes that engaged viewers:

  • They’re fun, interesting, and effective: People have a natural attraction to cute animals, and these dwarf goats are as photogenic as kittens. People also have an interest in yoga. While neither goats nor yoga are new ideas, combining them was novel. Like peanut butter and chocolate, putting goats and yoga together produced magic. It’s like the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups of exercise and animal videos. People who have tried the classes in person say that having the goats hop about is surprisingly calming.
  • They’re visually appealing and engaging and very sharable: The goats snuggle, prance, and sometimes, even hop up on the yoga students while they’re holding their poses. While the videos are actually fairly simple and easy to understand, the unpredictable nature of the animals generates countless possibilities. The combination of visual appeal and simplicity makes this kind of content very sharable, and that’s a key ingredient for viral content.
  • They evoke positive emotions:  Goat yoga doesn’t just connect with its audience. It also helps connect the audience to nature and animals. This sort of content almost immediately evokes a sense of joy, makes people laugh, and relieves stress. These days, it’s easy to get bombarded with bad news and negative emotions, so the goat yoga videos offer a pleasant refuge.

What can goat yoga teach a content marketing agency or business about viral videos?

Neil Patel, the internet marketing guru, published some simple characteristics that he believes every viral video needs. As you explore his suggestions, you can see how goat yoga videos provide a great example:

  • Rapid engagement: To get attention on a busy video site or social platform, videos need to gain attention quickly.
  • Novelty: If you’re advertising a type of yoga class or a toaster, you should stand out by doing something different. Think about the example of advertising a blender by finding out if it could blend a cell phone or tablet.
  • Decent quality: These days, you should pay some attention to production values. That’s true even if you can’t yet afford professional equipment or producers. Even if the videos aren’t perfect, they still need to be good enough.
  • Practicality: This might appear almost counter-intuitive when you’re talking about producing novel content; however, videos that offer accessible solutions tend to garner the most views.
  • Promotable: Even the most sharable videos need to gain that initial audience, so have a plan to distribute and promote the videos in order to help them gain momentum.

If you read more about the early days of goat yoga, you will learn that the founder hit upon a fantastic idea, promoted it, and then let her audience find her. She honestly never expected it to gain momentum as quickly as it did. If you’re setting out to develop viral content, you should first define your target audience and research the types of content that have a good chance of appealing to them.

Original Goat Yoga first distributed to Modern Farmer. You may want to spend time figuring out the sorts of platforms and publications that your audience might frequent in order to create your distribution and social media strategy. Even though viral content relies upon having the audience share it, you first need to develop that audience.

Even the most successful marketers will admit that they need art, science, and some luck to produce viral video content. By neglecting the important characteristics of a viral content strategy, you’ll greatly reduce your chances. Still, by studying past successes, you can craft and distribute content in a way that will greatly improve your odds, so you won’t need to rely upon luck so much.

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Content Marketing Marketing/Business Media & Analytics

Adding experiential experiences to your content marketing strategy can help grow and engage your audience online and offline.

Instagram, the popular photo and video site, will celebrate its 10th birthday in 2020. According to Sprout Social, just about a billion people use Instagram regularly, with about sixty percent of these users logging in at least once a day. While Instagram isn’t the largest social site, it is remarkable for the sort of famously Instagrammable experiences that its devoted audience has come to expect from content providers. As a marketer or content marketing agency, learn one way that you can tailor your Instagram strategy to include such an experience.

Developing an Instagram strategy around experiential set design

Many kinds of businesses have used Instagram as part of their effective content marketing strategy. Lots of other businesses even owe their starts to this unique social platform. As an important example, Instagram has even birthed an entire cottage industry of off-line sets that creative people develop just to generate the perfect backdrop for Instagrammable experiences.

Lately, these typically colorful and well-designed places have been called experiential sets. Fast Company referred to them as a sort of Disneyland for the selfie set, designed to appeal to short attention spans and a be-seen culture. Besides typically charging an admission fee, they also generally have sponsored rooms or galleries.

What is experiential set design?

To understand experiential set designs, it helps to consider some examples. Fast Company highlighted the Museum of Ice Cream’s debut in 2016. It launched in New York City, and then later attracted such celebrities as Kim Kardashian, Beyonce, and Katy Perry as it spread to Los Angeles and Miami. Copycats with similar ordinary themes and extraordinary sensory experiences popped up soon afterwards. Some examples include the Museum of Pizza and the Egg House. Of course, the most obviously named one is called the Museum of Selfies.

No matter the theme, they’re always designed with a photogenic quality in mind; however, they usually offer a live experience that appeals to multiple senses, such as feeling, smelling, and even tasting. Naturally, the admission to the Museum of Ice Cream includes a free scoop, provided by rotating vendors, who hope to gain more exposure both offline and online.

This new trend in experiential set design for events has moved to established museums or galleries and traveled as popup exhibitions. Critics have sometimes belittled these sets as dumbing down culture for the digital age and exploiting patrons by letting them pay high admission fees for superficial art and blatant advertising.

Great examples of experiential settings

At the same time, some efforts have been taken more seriously. As an example, The Color Factory has enjoyed serious design credibility with its focus upon color, creativity, and the way people experience spaces. They’ve even collaborated with such prestigious designers as the Smithsonian’s Cooper Hewitt Design Museum. While the developers keep it a kid-friendly place, The Color Factory also appeals to couples on dates, tourists, and of course, Instagram and other social media influencers.

Of course, major brands have started sponsoring their own experiential settings. One good example includes the Escape the Room games that HBO sponsored at SXSW. They provided sets inspired by popular HBO shows, including Game of Thrones, Veep, and Silicone Valley. These games immersed players in the shows’ stories in an incredibly engaging way.

Using experiential set design for B2B on Instagram

It’s sort of intuitive to see how a B2C content marketing agency can make use of these experiential sets to help improve brand recognition and grow their audiences. For example, Refinery 29’s contribution to this new industry, 29 Rooms, has had branded rooms from such companies as Smirnoff, Kraft, and Revlon. Non-sponsoring celebrities and social influencers might simply use the interesting backdrops of the venues as imaginative settings for their photos and videos. Meanwhile, the settings themselves may benefit from plenty of online exposure, admission fees, and sponsors.

At the same time, the concept of experiential sets can also lend itself very well for marketers who want to gain exposure for B2B on Instagram and other social sites. It’s important to note that a Bizzabo survey of hundreds of experienced marketers found that 87 percent of C-suite executives think live events will begin to factor much more in their marketing strategy.

Turning life events into Instagrammable experiences

For some good examples of way the executives might consider spending some of their marketing budgets on experiential sets for live events: 

  • Look at the Healthymagination marketing campaign by GE. They designed realistic medical settings that include demos of the ways that their tech helps improve them.
  • For something a bit more colorful and in line with other experiential settings, consider the way that HubSpot has designed their inbound marketing conference, complete with a giant #INBOUND hashtag sculpture to remind attendees how to find their posts and tag their own.
  • If you want to add a high-tech approach, you might even follow Intel’s lead in using immersive augmented and virtual reality tech to create a memorable and Instagrammable experience. One highlight included a hologram of one of their general managers, Gregory Bryant, speaking to the crowd.

Live events can lend themselves perfectly to serving as venues for Instagrammable experiences. Of course, it’s possible to turn the setting into its own event. Businesses can create their own branded experiences, either to keep in their headquarters buildings for visitors or as a popup that they can move around to trade shows and conventions. They can use their sets to highlight their company’s history, products, and community service. All the while, they can turn this immersive experience into something very sharable, so they benefit from both offline and online attention.

Should experiential sets become part of your content marketing strategy?

If you can find an experiential set relevant to your business, you may find that a great venue to produce sharable content. If you’re looking for a novel, competitive edge for your content marketing agency, you might even come up with your own ideas for a photogenic, mini-Disneyland for the selfie crowd. You can improve exposure both online and offline, plus add another revenue stream to your business.

Categories
Banking Content Marketing

Banks and other financial services need an edge to stay competitive. Here’s why content marketing can help them better connect with prospective customers.

Banks and credit unions are hardly celebrated for their innovation or mastery of digital tools. There’s a reason for this: The industry is by nature conservative, and it is also constrained by regulations. This is why the banking sector has been relatively behind on the digitalization curve.

Yet this also provides an opening for financial services enterprises — as long as they are willing to adopt new approaches that are aligned with changing consumer preferences. One recent example is the Capital One Cafe, a coffeehouse/bank location hybrid that allows customers to enjoy meet-ups and drink coffee while conducting basic banking services. This “bank barista” concept was designed to target the millennial market and make banking an enjoyable experience, rather than routine drudgery.

With banking services increasingly migrating online, however, banks and credit unions also need to harness the full potential of digital tools. Content marketing, specifically, is one of the most impactful things a bank can do to modernize its digital strategy and generate new business.

Let’s take a closer look at why this approach pays dividends, and how partnering with the right content marketing agency will help deliver results.

Developing a content marketing strategy that works

Financial marketers understand the value of strong content marketing. A recent Brandpoint survey showed that financial marketers view content marketing as an essential tactic for generating brand awareness and engaging with customers. That same survey, however, showed that half of financial marketers struggle with content creation and staying current with the latest techniques.

Other common problems include:

  • Insufficient resources to create top content
  • Inability to determine ROI or effectiveness of the content
  • Poorly defined strategy
  • Difficulty managing a multi-channel approach with consistency
  • Lack of budget
  • Lack of content marketing expertise
  • Leadership not buying in

That financial services firms struggle with content marketing is not surprising. If you asked most people about memorable marketing, banks would certainly not top the list. Some financial services firms, however, know how to do content marketing correctly. Here are two examples:

  • Citibank is highly-regarded for its brand awareness initiatives — and for good reason. The company’s sponsorship with New York’s popular Citibike program means that 10 million-plus New Yorkers can’t rent a bike without thinking about a bank. Citibank also uses content marketing and sponsorships with major artists as part of its Citi Entertainment program for customers. In both cases, Citibank attaches its name to something that consumers love (bike riding, concerts) — a significant boost, considering most bank brands have little inherent cachet. It’s an example of savvy bank marketing.
  • Deloitte is best known for being a global consultancy and financial advisory operation. Not exactly the type of enterprise to give retail consumers warm and fuzzy feelings. Yet every year Deloitte issues a “Back to School” survey that uses clever, data-rich visuals to help consumer optimize their purchasing habits. It’s not related to Deloitte’s core business, but it is a smart piece of content marketing that improves brand awareness and builds brand trust. Parents engaged with this campaign identify Deloitte as a company that helps them solve a perennial problem.

So now that we’ve discussed some challenges and seen some strong examples, let’s talk about what financial services firms can do to jumpstart their content marketing efforts and start building brand awareness and loyalty.

Actionable advice for your financial content marketing strategy

Companies that generate exceptional ROI from their content marketing efforts tend to have some commonalities. A recent Content Marketing Institute research survey investigated the factors shared by firms that are especially successful in this regard. According to this research, the four elements that separate winners from losers are:

  • Having a documented content marketing strategy. 65% of firms who report being successful in content marketing have such as a strategy, while only 14% of unsuccessful firms have one.
  • Measuring the ROI of content marketing initiatives. 72% of successful firms do this, while only 22% of unsuccessful firms measure ROI.
  • Proficiency with the latest content marketing technology. 67% of successful firms report proficiency, while only 7% of unsuccessful firms do.
  • Using personas for content marketing campaigns. 77% of successful firms use personas, while only 36% of unsuccessful firms use them.

By implementing or improving these four elements, you can lay the groundwork for a high-performing content marketing strategy. Not every financial institution or marketer has the experience of savvy to get the most out of this approach, however. In these cases, it makes sense to partner with a leading content creation agency.

Finding the right inbound marketing agency

If you’re in need of SEO marketing, content marketing or any other digital marketing service, we encourage you to contact Bigeye. We have the technical skill and domain expertise to help financial institutions gain immediate traction with high-performing digital marketing campaigns.

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Campaign Creation & Development Content Marketing Creative & Production

Studying Geico ads, your creative advertising agency can learn invaluable tools for your brand campaigns—making them more effective, memorable, and fun.

Everyone knows Geico Insurance. Whether you’re a fan of the gecko, caveman, or another one of their mascots, we’ve all got to hand it to Geico for their incredibly well-done ads. We fully recognize it’s no accident either, they consistently make brilliant, strategic decisions ultimately getting them to where they are today.

Our curiosity peaks when we ask the question: What drives those ever-changing concepts? Here’s what we’ve learned.

1. Don’t let the product be the only focus.

Let’s be real, insurance is not the most engaging subject. Consumers don’t pay attention to ads centered on jargon and driven by industry best practices; they want to be entertained. Geico’s creative advertising agency does an amazing job of having fun with their product with a purpose. For example, the caveman ads. A campaign that revolved around the concept that cavemen exist today and the slogan, “so easy a caveman could do it” deeply offends them.

This has absolutely nothing to do with insurance, any industry has a convenient pull and this could have resonated in any of them. It’s simply that Geico coined it. You can see this idea in most of their ads. However, the product isn’t just tacked on either. It’s a big plot point. Who is saying their product is, “so easy a caveman could do it?” Geico.

They are central to the plot but not the only focus. Your campaign strategy should do the same thing. Get a creative ad agency with strategies that will weave your brand into the content in interesting, innovative ways.

2. Put in the resources.

Amazing ads can’t be crafted in 2 hours on $10. Giving your creative ad agency the time and resources they need to truly capture your voice and vision is a huge step towards long-term campaign success. According to Forbes, Geico invested $5 million in ad creation for 2017 alone. That’s an astronomical number, but for the breadth of ads, quality content, varied target markets the results show it all. That year, Geico’s brand awareness hit 53%. For context, Progressive’s high-point that year was 43%.

Now it’s not all about spending, Progressive had spent $4.5 million and got significantly lower results. The talent must also be there, as well as avid and clear communication on vision and goals. Look at the top creative agencies in your industry, target markets, and locations before you decide which creative advertising agency should get that big investment. Money can only take you so far, you need the right people.

3. Don’t keep repeating the same ad.

Even the most energizing and unique concepts can get monotonous and bothersome over time. Don’t make your audience watch the same thing over and over. Whether it’s through one concept with multiple executions or multiple different campaigns running at once, give your audience varied the content. Geico is a great example of both practices. Their creative advertising agency ran many spots featuring their acoustic musicians in ads such as Hump Day and Christopher Columbus. Then ran separate campaigns at the same time by keeping their Gecko ads running while ads featuring fun facts in realistic situations were also on air.

More than varied content, you need to also use multiple channels. Geico ads can be found in print, on TV, and YouTube Pre-roll too. Get a creative digital agency that works across platforms. This way, your content will be seen and won’t get stale.

The Takeaway

Memorable advertising is a complex order, and every brand is different. You can achieve high brand awareness and drive profits with a few key concepts. So, what are the takeaways? Have more than one ad, keeping your consumers engaged demands innovative, plentiful content. Let the story drive the ad, your brand should be a key plot driver but not the only focus. Tell a complete narrative that lets your products shine without being the only concept at hand. Finally, give your agency the time, information, and funding they need to reach your goals effectively.

As a creative advertising agency, we understand how vital engaging, varied advertising is to a thriving business. We’re strategy first in all aspects, tailoring our services to your industry, target market, and needs to optimize your ad spend and drive effective results. Reach out to learn about what we can do for you.

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Campaign Creation & Development Content Marketing Creative & Production Media & Analytics Paid Search Search Engine Optimization Website Development

Maternity marketing typically reaches out to the current mom, without putting much emphasis on the woman who’s expecting. But particularly for first-time moms, these women and their supportive family members must also make decisions about what’s best for their as-of-yet unborn children… what color to paint the nursery, which toys to purchase for the tot, what types of formula to buy and what kinds of clothes the child should wear.
Companies that target the current mom without thinking of the present mom may be too late – once she has the child, she may have already made up her mind about the best formulas, baby wipes and other newborn needs to suit her child. And once you lose the expectant mother, you may lose her for life – if she becomes loyal to one brand, it will be hard to get her to switch over.

Many Expecting Mothers Google Everything

Marketers can target expectant moms by reaching out to them through the avenues they’ll be using most. Perhaps one of the easiest ways is through SEO content and Google AdWords. First-time mothers may be anxious about what constitutes a “normal” pregnancy, potential parenting woes and the “right” parenting methods. They’ll often look to Google and other search engine tools for help. A Google search for “how to change a diaper” produces more than 29 million results. While it may be difficult to provide SEO content to beat the top-ranked page, a Google Ad campaign for your brand could do wonders for your diaper company and maternity marketing strategy.

Educational Content is Valuable to New Parents

Instructional content may also be a promising avenue for reaching your target mom-to-be. Content marketing is a way to reach out to your target demographics, and therefore a blog directed to the mom-to-be and the newborn mom practically has a built-in audience. Younger, hipper, smartphone-wielding moms may be drawn to video content, which is easily accessible from multiple devices.

From Mom-Focused Content to “DADvertising”

Okay, but what about the dad-to-be? According to a study conducted last year, 52% of millennial parents told us that ads they see are made for mothers more than fathers, and 83% say they think advertising for parents should appeal to both mothers and fathers equally. In fact, there was a successful online movement in the U.S. that put pressure on the site “Amazon Mom” to rename its service to “Amazon Family.”

Some maternity marketing tips we think would be helpful in reaching dads would be to make it easier for dads to find the right information on their mobile devices at any time, to include dads in the story since household duties are shared amongst both parents, and to understand what motivates and works with dads may be motivated differently than their female counterparts. We’ve already begun to see a shift toward “dadvertising” – and we’re diggin’ it.

So if you’re aiming to reach soon-to-be parents, our Orlando advertising agency encourages you to think about both parts of the story. Catching a mom-to-be in the pregnancy phase may mean that you’re attracting a loyal and valuable customer for life, and speaking to a “dad-in-training” may stand out more amongst a sea of mom-oriented messaging.

To learn more about how you can market to parents in order to create brand preference and instill brand loyalty, contact us today!

Categories
Content Marketing Creative & Production

Well, it’s time for a new challenge: Generation Z. They’re kind of like Millennials, but just a little bit extra.
In just three years, the global population of Generation Z will outnumber Millennials, reaching a population of about 2.5 billion. In the United States, members of Generation Z now comprise 20% of the population and rising.

To be successful, marketers need to understand the shift that’s occurring. In order to do that, they need greater insight into the makeup, preferences, behaviors, and motivations of Generation Z, which is why partnering with a content marketing agency might be beneficial for you.

Personal appearance, immediacy, and the “Instagram Effect”

Generation Z is the first cohort to have never really known a world without the smartphone or social media. They’ve grown up in public, documenting their lives online. In this sense, they are part of a radical experiment, having no experience of the slower and more private analog world that existed before smartphones and social platforms.

A report compiled by Fung Global Retail & Technology draws some interesting conclusions about Generation Z, including the following:

  • They attach great importance to personal appearance, having spent their lives being judged (and judging others) on social media.
  • They spend more on leisure and lifestyle purchases (restaurants, travel, etc.) due to the competitive pressures of social media (also known as the “Instagram Effect).
  • They are the most demanding and least patient generation in history, due to on-demand services such as Netflix, Postmates and Uber.

These three characteristics are, of course, of particular interest to content marketers. Members of Generation Z are extremely interested in products tied to appearance. They are hungry for experiences; their consumer spending habits are often tailored to the need to show social media audiences that they have fun, interesting, and meaningful lives.

They also have a craving for, and expectation of, immediacy. Because this generation has grown up in an environment where products and services appear at the push of a button, they’ve been conditioned to expect a fast response.

How a smart content marketing agency connects with Gen Z

Generation Z members spend around nine hours each day on their devices, scrolling through various feeds, posting content and socializing. In order to increase engagement, marketers should do the following:

  • Rely on video and images rather than text.
  • Create visually-striking content that stands out, with a clear call to action.
  • Use an attention-grabbing approach that cuts through the clutter. Generation Z has grown up immersed in advertising, so it takes something novel to seize their attention.
  • Understand the sensibility. Younger people document their lives on social media, if you want to understand what they think is funny or interesting, all you need to do is look.
  • Don’t patronize. There’s nothing worse than a brand attempting to connect with young people by clumsily appropriating their humor or lexicon. When something like this lands, it can be very effective — but it can also backfire spectacularly if not executed well.

A content marketing agency is your best option

While we’ve been helping brands succeed for more than a decade, BIGEYE prides itself on being a young, energetic content marketing agency. We move fast and build data-driven content for our clients.

If you’d like to better understand the art and science of targeting Generation Z, don’t hesitate to contact us today.