You may think that you already know your target marketing audience, but without persona development, you may be shooting in the dark.
It’s marketing 101: The first step to effective branding and advertising is knowing your audience. And there is no better way to fully understand your audience than a well-crafted buyer persona.
Forbes Magazine Councils Member and contributing writer Jon Simpson defines buyer personas as “semi-fictional characters that personify your ideal customer” and called them “imperative to having accurate audience insights.”
Many business leaders deem the development of buyer personas superfluous, overconfident in their natural ability to connect with existing and prospective customers. But without comprehensive and effective persona development, critical misjudgments can easily occur. And these misjudgments can make the ultimate difference between success and failure.
The benefits of persona development
It is essential for brand strategy experts and content marketers to draft and refine effective buyer personas. No matter how busy they happen to be and how anxious they are to get on to the content creation stages of marketing campaign development process, they absolutely must make time for this key preparatory measure.
Persona development gives direction and focus to all of your marketing efforts by providing a single audience template that everyone in your organization can use when developing overall marketing strategy and spearheading specific advertising efforts. As the independent content marketing resource Content Marketing Institute puts it, “Documenting your personas, even if done quickly, is key to keeping everybody focused on the same audience.”
Persona development is particularly useful for companies with multiple stakeholders and/or team members who hold decidedly different opinions when it comes to marketing and branding strategies. By determining buyer personas that epitomize target audiences as a whole, companies can not only structure a unified marketing vision, but make all narratives involving company brand and products/services far more compelling, memorable, and ultimately effective.
From your official website and social media pages to your traditional and digital advertising efforts, all elements of your marketing outreach can (and probably will be) refined and optimized to meet the specific wants and needs of your audience as you identify them. However, by creating clearly defined buyer personas ahead of time, you can avoid the tremendous amount of time and monetary expense that go hand in hand with major redesign and redevelopment.
How to develop an effective buyer persona
Although even a rudimentary buyer persona is better than no buyer persona at all, it goes without saying that putting more forethought and care into the persona development process will inevitably yield better results. For this reason, organizations that are serious about marketing and branding success typically employ the help of a specialized persona development agency when engaging in this process.
The Content Marketing Institute breaks the development of an effective buyer persona into five practical steps. Keep in mind that each of these steps is an involved process in and of itself, requiring significant data gathering and analysis using modalities that range from general market research to customer/prospective customer interviews and surveys.
Step 1: Visualize the ideal customer.
Through extensive research, analysis, and projection, develop a single fictional customer who represents your target audience as a whole. For optimum results, go far beyond basic demographics such as gender and income level to examine the details of this customer’s professional and personal life.
Step 2: Consider that customer’s applicable wants and needs.
What are the common objectives and responsibilities of your ideal customer? What obstacles might stand in his or her way?
Step 3: Characterize that customer’s role in relation to the purchase of products and/or services.
What form does your ideal customer’s buying process take? What questions is that customer likely to ask before making a purchase?
Step 4: Consider that customer’s communication preferences.
What media channels does your ideal customer use on a regular basis? Where does he or she go to get information?
Step 5: Marry your buyer persona insights to your strategic company goals.
A great way to do this is to craft one or more engagement scenarios that take buyer personas through various prospective consumer interactions with your company.
For more information
If you want to learn more about the benefits of persona development and/or get professional assistance with the persona development process, contact a skilled and knowledgeable representative of Bigeye today. If you are looking for a persona development agency with vision, we’d love to show you what we have to offer.
Making predictions is a risky business. In 1994, the Rand Corporation — a famous quasi-governmental think tank long-celebrated for their strategic prognostication — confidently predicted the following:
“During the 21st century, those houses that don’t have a robot in the broom closet could have a live-in ape to do the cleaning and gardening chores. Also, the use of well-trained apes as family chauffeurs might decrease the number of automobile accidents.”
While selectively breeding an army of highly intelligent ape butlers and chauffeurs might seem ridiculous to those of us living in 2019, it probably seemed semi-plausible then — and that’s the risk that comes with forecasting. However, when you’re right, the payoff can be immense. If you can predict what’s next, you can position yourself (or your organization) to profit from this shift before it occurs.
That brings us to the subject of this piece: “Connecting the Dots: Consumer Trends That Will Shape 2020.”
What We’ve Learned By Connecting the Dots
Recently released to the public, “Connecting the Dots” is a research and forecasting document compiled by GlobalWebIndex. The report, which is produced annually, offers a valuable window into technology, society and marketing.
For pure prognostication, GlobalWebIndex has a reasonably strong record. In last year’s report, it was predicted that e-sports would finally enter the mainstream. 2019 subsequently saw 50% year-over-year growth in e-sports, the Fortnite World Cup and top e-sports stars appearing on famous late night talk shows. Last year’s report also perceptively noted the continuing trend of social media becoming less social and more utilitarian, as platforms such as Instagram and Facebook become closer to one-stop-shops for consumer needs.
So what does the latest version of the report predict for the upcoming year? Let’s take a closer look at a few of the most relevant predictions offered in the report.
The Emergence of Online, On-Demand Healthcare
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if booking a physician’s appointment was as simple as booking a ride with Uber? That’s the future we’re hurtling toward, as AI and telehealth begin to augment — and in some cases replace — conventional primary care.
Today’s AI-powered health offerings are a far cry from the limited telehealth patient sessions of a few years ago. Healthcare operators are also taking things a step further by combining telehealth services with mobile clinics and pop ups. By marrying the two approaches, providers can offer the same suite of services found in any brick and mortar doctor’s office, yet in a far more accessible way.
The public interest is certainly there. According to “Connecting the Dots”:
“Our global research reveals 36% of consumers are using the internet to research health issues and healthcare products, jumping up to 42% for users aged 55-64, where a focus on health becomes even more crucial.”
The study also found that:
75% of consumers use the Internet to research which medications to purchase
Half of consumers say that video physician consults will help them manage their health more effectively
70% are willing to make their health data accessible via smartphone
In a world that’s conditioned to expect on-demand services — and where access to healthcare remains an intractable problem — this is one projection that seems almost certain to be realized.
Privacy and Cashless Societies
In some ways, privacy has become almost a quaint notion in the digital era. We trail streams of data as we navigate our phones and the web — much the same way that city buses trail exhaust fumes. Every follow, like or page visit is duly recorded and used to optimize our marketing and ad profiles.
This hyper-transparency has been largely shielded from two key areas, however: Medical records and financial data. Both areas are regulated to varying degrees. Yet our daily financial transactions could soon be subject to the same level of transparency as our daily web browsing.
That’s because digital currencies are on the rise. Bitcoin, Facebook’s Project Libra and efforts by China to develop a national digital currency all differ in some key regards. Yet they all share one characteristic: Anyone using these coins/tokens will have their transactions recorded on a public and immutable ledger. That’s the nature of blockchain technology.
While there are so-called privacy coins that obscure transaction history, these offerings are not likely to see the wide consumer adoption associated with a Facebook cryptocurrency or a state-sponsored digital asset.
For those invested in privacy, things aren’t completely dire. The European Union has introduced the world’s strongest digital privacy protections — laws that give consumers much more control over how their data is harvested and used. Yet in a world that is quickly going cashless, maintaining financial privacy may soon become a much more difficult challenge.
A Mediated Existence
Just how mediated through technology have our daily lives become? Consider this: The average person, globally, spends almost seven hours per day online. As companies and industries pursue greater degrees of digitalization, it is only a matter of time before seven hours seem like an exercise in restraint.
Given how much of our lives are now lived online, is it truly possible to detach? Have we lost the ability to prioritize the human touch without sacrificing convenience?
According to “Connecting the Dots,” many people now fear the answer is a resounding “no.” The number of people who report that technology complicates their lives, or who report being constantly connected online, continues to rise each year.
These concerns are shared by the people who seemingly know best: Silicon Valley CEOs and developers. Over the last year, we’ve seen repeated articles in the press about “dopamine fasts” and “technology detoxes.” Many tech leaders have mentioned that they strictly regulate screen time for their own children.
The scale and rapidity of the “tech takeover” of modern society is astonishing, if you take a moment to place it in context. A generation ago, personal computers cost thousands of dollars, had limited utility and were not owned by most households. Tech, in general, was not a lifestyle, except for hard core enthusiasts.
While increasing computing power and the birth of the Internet ignited the consumer tech takeover, it wasn’t until little more than a decade ago — with the development of social media and the smartphone — that we truly began to live mediated existences. In fact, we’ve hurdled headlong into a radical societal shift, in a very brief period of time, without any real idea about the consequences.
Politicians have become aware of this anti-tech sentiment. Several US senators have urged social media platforms to take steps to make their products less compulsively engaging, claiming that the current paradigm is bad for the mental health of heavy users.
“Connecting the Dots” makes the case that while the tech takeover may be in full flight, human concern about (and opposition to) our new reality will only get stronger.
Bigeye is a leading creative agency based in Orlando, Florida. We help clients create marketing campaigns that are driven by exceptional creative work, domain expertise and sophisticated technological tools. For more inspired reading, visit our Insights page.
In Clear Focus this week: Bigeye’s senior strategist Dana Cassell joins host Adrian Tennant to discuss the role that strategy plays within a marketing and communications agency. Dana offers case studies highlighting how consumer insights and audience research can be applied to differentiate brands from their competition, plus practical tips and career advice for anyone seeking to enter the advertising industry.
Adrian Tennant: You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, a unique perspective on the business of advertising produced by Bigeye. I’m your host, Adrian Tennant, VP of insights at Bigeye. For those of you who don’t know us, Bigeye is an audience-focused, creative-driven, full-service advertising agency. We’re based in Orlando, Florida, but serve clients across the United States and beyond. Providing audience research, branding, creative, media, and analytics services. Thank you for choosing to spend time with us today. For this episode, it’s my pleasure to be joined by Dana Cassell, Bigeye’s senior strategist. Dana has been with Bigeye almost a decade and focuses on consumer behavior, interpreting the results of findings from primary and secondary research. Dana synthesizes data into actionable insights that help Bigeye’s clients build strategically differentiated brands. Welcome to IN CLEAR FOCUS, Dana.
Dana Cassell: Thank you. Glad to be here.
Adrian Tennant: What does your role as senior strategist at Bigeye look like? Describe a day in the life, if you will.
Dana Cassell: I love that question, “What does a day in the life look like?” I spend a lot of time on-site with clients in a discovery meeting. So, generally at the beginning of an engagement with a client, we have an on-site day where we have the leadership team in the room and our team in the room. And the first half of that discovery is a strategic discovery and we’re working on things like a SWOT analysis, key messages, understanding of the target current state of affairs. So I’m generally leading that conversation. I like to think of myself as a client advocate, so I’m basically trying to get myself up to speed and understand where they are in the business, what they’re trying to do. So I do a lot of that and I like a lot of that. I’m also on calls with clients a lot catching up on those types of items. And then the kind of other half of what I do is staring at the computer screen, blinking cursor by myself because I do a lot of documentation. So if we have a strategic engagement, I’m going to be documenting that entire discovery process and setting forth the strategic plan to move forward. So I’m either kind of with everybody or by myself. I like both of those pieces.
Adrian Tennant: So what are some of the most common challenges you see clients facing today?
Dana Cassell: I think differentiation is a challenge. In the, in the global economy, you know, there’s just not really a new idea anymore. So a lot of our clients have a solid product, they have a great internal organization and they’ve just either lost market share or other newer competitors have come on the scene and they’re having trouble differentiating. We also see a lot of lack of understanding of the audience. So maybe an organization, a client might have known their audience 10 years ago. They did a lot of research, they had a better understanding and they’ve just grown and changed since then. So they just haven’t, not a modern understanding of their audience. So I think that’s a challenge a lot of people see. Another one I see is our clients having trouble getting to a place where they can be more strategic rather than reactive. And that’s generally in my assessment, kind of – it’s like a legacy problem. So the organization just runs a certain way and the marketing team can’t catch up and get far enough ahead that they have time to breathe and be strategic. So it’s like the weight of the organization is forcing them to be reactive. It’s not that they’re not strategic thinkers, they are, they just don’t have permission internally to push pause on being reactive and move into a more strategic place. And I think often we help in those engagements because we can come into the room with the C-suite and make the case for why reactivity is not the best marketing strategy.
Adrian Tennant: So that being said, if you’re a new challenger brand, I’m looking to gain market share in a category with an established brand leader, how can strategy help?
Dana Cassell: I think the audience understanding and insight is, is a key piece of that game. There are industries where the leading brand is taking their position for granted and they don’t really have deepened relationships with their consumers. And that’s always an area of opportunity. I think we’ll probably also talk, I’m hoping we’ll talk about direct-to-consumer today. That’s another great example of ways that challenger brands are gaining market share sort of by a really deep specific understanding of their audience and an extremely clear focus. So I think new challengers that really get the audience have a singular focus and do that thing well, have a great opportunity to gain some market share.
Adrian Tennant: Great answer. Strategy can seem a bit abstract. What do tangible deliverables from strategy planning typically look like?
Dana Cassell: That’s a great question. So target market analysis is often one that we’ll deliver and this is related to audience and audience insights. So we’ll work with a client to understand primary, secondary, tertiary audiences. We’ll develop brand personas, key messages for those targets, where we find them in media, what their consumer behaviors like. So we kind of blowout a big profile of those target markets. So that kind of analysis is a real actionable deliverable. Often key messages is a piece of that. So I really like the kind of four-by-four model where we have four things that we like to say about the brand over and over maybe four words long that everybody in the organization can get behind. These are like little memorable key nuggets about a brand that we can work into. Public relations interviews we can use in social content we might use in our email signature. I love helping a brand kind of come up with these key messages that are like part of their identity, something everybody can understand and start to be a driver for a brand. So I often like to work in key messages. We’ll also make key messages as part of that target market strategy. So what are the key messages that resonate most with each message, each segment of that target market? Sometimes a platform analysis is a good one too. So we’ll have clients that are involved in a variety of social media and this is something I love to do as a strategist. So we’ll get a client that is doing a lot of social media and none of it beautifully. And I get the opportunity to kind of go in and consume all of that data, all that content they’ve been putting out over the years and understand what’s been working and resonating. I love looking at the data behind social platforms and coming back and being able to say, “the good news is you’ve been doing too much and we have an opportunity to narrow your focus and then really do what you’re doing well.” So platform analysis as a tangible deliverable. And then content planning is another one that happens often we’ll see organizations that are they know strategically what they need to be doing, but then the tactics of how to execute that strategy. So often one of my strategic deliverables will be a plan for creating and deploying content. So strategic recommendations on what types of categories are going to work best on their different platforms. So what should their blog focus over the next year be? What should their outbound marketing focuses be? So that content planning roadmap, that happens a lot too.
Adrian Tennant: I’m really interested to know how you get up to speed on a new client industry. Have you got a particular process that you’d like to share with us?
Dana Cassell: Sure. I’m just an avid consumer of that brand. I just try to think of myself as obsessed, kind of brand obsessed, and I’ll just literally sit at my computer and absorb everything I can find about them online. And then I do that for any brand that thinks they’re a competitor or any brand that they think is a competitor. And then also aspirational brands. So this is a question I love to ask clients. What are brands that you think are similar to yours that are killing it? And it might not be in their same market and might not be in their same service, but a brand that it’s like, I really like the way they do business, so then I’ll go absorb everything I can about those brands. And if they don’t have an idea of who those are, I probably have an idea of who this might be for them. So I like doing that. And then I’m also a data nerd at heart, which I would encourage anybody who wants to be a strategist to become a data nerd at heart. I love to go look at whatever data they want to give us. So one of my favorite places to start is with good old Google Analytics to understand what’s happening on their digital platforms. Sales data. I don’t know, I just, I like to… Annual reports, gosh, I love annual reports. Am I the only one maybe?
Adrian Tennant: I think you might be, Dana.
Dana Cassell: I love a good annual report. So I just consume all of the data, you know, and then I do a lot of listening so I love to read and then I love to hear from them. That’s kinda how I get up to speed. I also like to read things like job descriptions to learn how the brand thinks about the people they want working with them. So that’s a little hacks to learn how the brand thinks about themselves.
Adrian Tennant: Some really good strategic tips there, I liked them. Thank you. Dana, what brands do you most admire – and why?
Dana Cassell: This is a great question. I love this. I feel like I can answer in lots of different ways. So I like to think of Southwest Airlines and Publix as the same brand in my head and they’re kind of big ones and obvious ones that a lot of people love. So it’s maybe a bit of a cliche answer, but the things that I love about them are, I believe them and I believe in authenticity and transparency. I just don’t think there’s a way in 2019, 2020 to live in a non-transparent way for long. So these are brands that I think have been being super transparent for a long time. They have people who are happy to work there, which I think is a real key to long-term success is internal culture. So I think they’re doing that really well. And I also think they are trying to be exactly who they are. So they’re in a growth mindset as a brand. Neither of them are giving up market share anywhere, but they’re also not trying to be something that they’re not. So I love that about them. They’re authentic, they have happy customers, they know who they are and they’re living into that identity. So I really liked that about those brands.
Adrian Tennant: I should just explain for any listeners that are not based in the Southeast of the United States, Publix Supermarkets, the leading supermarket for sure in our region, privately held, and a Fortune 100 company.
Dana Cassell: Right. And originally a Floridian brand, now found widely across the Southeast and likely in a Northern market near you soon because like I said, they have a growth mindset.
Adrian Tennant: That’s meant to be a secret, I think. Not really, worst-kept secret now.
Dana Cassell: I love the Grocery Wars. Honestly, what’s happening in the grocery stores is great. We were talking about this for banking yesterday, following the way that grocery stores are moving Northern brands to the South, Southern brands to the North, and then expansion into the Midwest is a great case study for any industry that is looking to gain market share in a volatile environment. Because grocery is about loyalty. It’s grossly about consumer behavior. And it’s just a really fascinating idea to watch how grocery stores move into markets where they’re, they’re not, they’re markets of origin. I love groceries.
Adrian Tennant: Excellent. So what do you think about the success of direct-to-consumer brands, such as Dollar Shave Club, StitchFix, Casper, Warby Parker, Barkbox… there are many, many, many to choose from. What do you think about them?
Dana Cassell: I love it. This why, I love it. So it’s not, it’s not dissimilar from the Southwest and Publix idea. These brands are singularly focused on doing one thing really well. Warby Parker is going to deliver glasses that you’ll love, that you have control over the experience. I love that Casper mattresses, it’s a focused effort. They know who they are, they know what they’re going to do well and they’re not going to do anything beyond that until they can do it well. So that’s not to say that DTC can’t expand and grow their service line. They can, but they’re doing it in a way that feels authentic to the brand. And also all of these brands that you’re mentioning are obsessed with consumer experience and I think that’s been the key to their success. So the whole idea that there’s this user-generated content library of people unboxing mattresses, this is like watching paint dry! I mean unboxing a mattress theoretically couldn’t be a more boring thing! This has taken over the Internet. I think it’s amazing, but they’ve created a user experience that is engaging people in a category I don’t think anybody would have predicted. So I love that they also have streamlined billing. I think this is really important, now in our mobile environment, in our Apple pay environment, that the billing process is smooth and simple and transparent and these brands are doing that really well. They’re also giving people choice and control. So any sort of subscription direct-to-consumer brand that cannot be customized or that you feel like you’re going to lose control of your credit card or you’re going to be billed in a month. “I didn’t know I was going to be built. Oh, you know, I’m frustrated.” It doesn’t last. You know, that will work for a few months until somebody realizes that charges recurring and then they’re not only quitting, they’re also not a brand advocate. So what I love about these brands that you mentioned, Dollar Shave Club, you’re getting an email every month that says, “Hey, your box is about to ship. Do you wanna make any changes? Do you need this box?” And if you don’t skip a month or skip three months, they’re giving control to the consumer. And I think that’s just building trust and loyalty.
Adrian Tennant: So these are all great lessons that we can learn from DTC brands.
Dana Cassell: Yeah. And simplify, you know, they’re all, that’s what I was starting with the idea of being focused, knowing who you are, knowing what you’re doing. If the business is complicated and you’re on the inside, imagine how that feels from the outside.
Adrian Tennant: That’s a great point. Well, let’s change gears. Tell us a little bit about your background. How did you get to where you are today?
Dana Cassell: Hmm. Okay. So, um, I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, and I don’t know when this started, but I think I always wanted to be an advertising because I really can’t remember a time that I didn’t. I have this four-H project from third grade, I’m left-handed. And it was called living in a right-handed world and it was an advocacy base about the challenges of being left-handed. Scissors can openers, it’s a right handed world. So I had this presentation that I loved and it was just this like little piece, understanding the way that it feels to be in the world and being a consumer of right-handed things as a left-handed person. And I look back and think that might’ve been my first piece of consumer research. So I think I was kind of always into it. And then I was looking for universities that had advertising as a field of study and I was not impressed with an advertising school that would send their materials in a white envelope that laid on my dining room table with all the other college envelopes. And then SMU – that’s Southern Methodist in Dallas – sent me their piece and it was what I wanted it to be. It was shiny and brilliant and well done. And it looked totally different when we threw it on the table. And my parents had drawn this radius on the map of two-hour flights and Dallas was right on the edge of the two-hour flight line. So I thought we should do it. So I went to school in Dallas at the Timberland Institute and had a wonderful time there. They have a relationship with The Richards Group, which was amazing as a student. And then graduate school in Austin studying consumer behavior where I had the opportunity to work on a team that was rebranding the university. They ask a few grad students in the ad program to help rebrand the university. And we came up with that tagline, “What starts here changes the world,” which was first recorded by Walter Cronkite, which was just an amazing experience and still can be found on football sometimes today. My dad calls when he hears it. So that was neat and I was able to document that process as my thesis. So that was a really fun experience and just kind of confirmed my love of advertising and branding. And then I always worked then, so that was 2004 when I graduated. It was kind of the boom of monetizing the dotcom. So I worked for a local newspaper as they were trying to figure out how to make money on their dotcom and got some really cool opportunities to collaborate with sales and technology and really start to understand the data that drives websites and how you can translate that data into sales and also leverage audience understanding and the use of a website to target advertising. So that was a very cool time to be in that world and it wasn’t as big then as it is now. So I was in analytics and I got a crash course in analytics, loved that and then moved into strategy after that. I think strategy and digital analytics are very closely linked. It’s a just a great place to start when you don’t know where else to start. So that’s been kind of my journey. I’ve been in analytics and consumer behavior and strategy since then.
Adrian Tennant: So as you know, we have a very active intern program at Bigeye. What advice would you give someone wanting to pursue a career in brand planning or strategy?
Dana Cassell: I think to have a growth mindset is really important because it’s always changing. The entire field is always changing. And to be somebody who is interested in learning every day and as much as there are common elements among our clients for strategic difficulty, everything is unique. Every client need and strategy is new. So to be able to grow and change except what you don’t know and go figure out what you need to know, I think that’s really important. So growth mindset, obsession with data. I’ve said it a few times. It’s my experience that some people, and there are even some holdovers in academics, that advertising is a creative endeavor and that means it’s an artistic endeavor and that that’s sort of like not congruent with data analysis, math. And I think that’s totally inaccurate. And I think data is creative and I think it’s really, really important to understand. And I think our creative team here would tell you that a data-driven creative approach is central to our philosophy. So obsession with data, growth mindset. Also, I think a solid business background. A lot of what I end up doing could be business consulting work. And I love that. You know, I love the Bigeye wants to get their hands in that. It’s not like, Oh, that’s not proper advertising. We’re not interested. Marketing and operations are closely linked, although I will say every day of my life, great marketing can’t fix operational challenges. We have to get the operations intact. By being able to understand that as a strategist is really important. So I think a little bit of business background is helpful and to enjoy problem solving. I’m a gameplayer. I love solving problems, doing puzzles, riddles. If somebody tell me a “knock, knock” joke and doesn’t give me time to try to figure it out, it makes me crazy. It’s like holding in a sneeze. So, you know, I think being a problem solver as another piece of that.
Adrian Tennant: So again, thinking about our interns at Bigeye, what kinds of resources would you point them towards to help them?
Dana Cassell: People. I was thinking about this. I had an amazing copywriter professor in undergrad who wrote the GI Joe “Real American Hero” jingle and also, “What would you do for a Klondike bar?” So he was a really neat professor who inspired me and gave me a different way to think about advertising. And I can think about my first boss that gave me permission to understand the Internet and the way that it worked and how that impacted advertising. That was a lot, that was a lot. There was a time where being on social media at work was not a thing, you know, and so to have offices that understood that while it didn’t seem like the right thing to do at might be. And then I can also think about people in the industry who inspired me to think differently about strategy. So I really think the best resources that I’ve had have been people and that is also like a life strategy of my own to find someone who’s a step ahead of me that I really admire. Look, aspirational brand – I do it in my personal life and understand what they’re doing and why they’re doing it and just seek their wisdom. So yeah – people.
Adrian Tennant: Excellent. You’re so on-brand – your own brand!
Dana Cassell: Thank you!
Adrian Tennant: So what is one common myth about working in advertising that really needs to be debunked?
Dana Cassell: Yeah, so I think this one is that it’s super cut-throat, and every man for themselves, and unbelievably competitive, and it can’t be trusted. I think there’s this idea that it’s kind of all one big kind of battlefield in a way. I have not experienced that in 18 years of working in the industry. Obviously, there are some places that feel that way, but for me the best work I’ve ever done has been highly collaborative, very team-oriented. I have a personal philosophy that it’s very hard for me to work with people if I don’t have a connection. You know, I like to have a personal connection with the people I’m making these big decisions for brands with. So I have never been in an environment in advertising and done great work and that be the case. So I find advertising very collaborative, friendly, helpful – you know, the best work happens when there’s somebody from research, planning, creative, digital, everybody at the table working together.
Adrian Tennant: That’s great. So what have you read or listened to recently that really inspired you?
Dana Cassell: I’m an avid podcast consumer, so I listen all the time and I have this wide variety of podcasts I listen to. But I think something recently that inspired me was Tal Ben-Shahar on “Armchair Expert,” which is Dax Shepherd’s podcast. So Dax is married to Kristen Bell and he, I mean in his own right, was Crosby on “Parenthood.” He’s done lots of wonderful things, but he has this really interesting background in anthropology and psychology. And so he has this podcast about a year-and-a-half old and Tal Ben-Shahar was on recently. So he is a PhD-educated, Harvard-educated lecturer and just intellectual thought-leader. And he famously held the record for having the two largest classes in the history of Harvard at one point. And they’re all on positive psychology and happiness and leadership. And I love this because it’s data-driven approach because it’s a PhD style of learning and it’s about the impact of positivity on life and on the bottom line. So I really love this about him and I just found his time with Dax really inspiring because he just talks a lot about organizational leadership. And it’s like a data-driven approach to happiness, which I think there’s so much in the zeitgeist about positive affirmation. I love all of that, but I also love that there’s like data behind this idea of the power of happiness for economic success, like corporate kind of branding success. I don’t know. I really liked him.
Dana Cassell: Okay. I can’t be held responsible for everything Dax says, okay?
Adrian Tennant: Understood.
Dana Cassell: Okay.
Adrian Tennant: So finally, Dana, what does having a CLEAR FOCUS mean to you?
Dana Cassell: Having a CLEAR FOCUS to me means knowing who you are because I don’t think it’s a given that we all know where we’re going next. I think it’s really important that if we know who we are, we can figure out where we’re headed.
Adrian Tennant: Deep…
Dana Cassell: Maybe?
Adrian Tennant: Dana, it’s been a real pleasure. Thank you to our guest, Dana Cassell, senior strategist at Bigeye. You’ve been listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, a unique perspective on the business of advertising. Produced by Bigeye. If you have questions about the content of today’s show, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You’ll also find a transcript of today’s show on our website at bigeyeagency.com. I’m Adrian Tennant. Thank you for listening. Until next time, goodbye.
A new, national study of pet owners from Bigeye signals shifts in preferences and behaviors that are poised to reshape the $75 billion pet industry.
In July and August 2019, Bigeye conducted a survey of 784 pet owners aged 25 to 55 across the United States.
The study quantifies how pets influence purchases, devices, and brand appeal. Bigeye aimed to provided a valuable, free resource for organizations that provide or develop pet products and services with findings that are especially relevant to marketing professionals.
Bigeye President Justin Ramb, Senior Strategist Dana Cassell, and VP of Insights Adrian Tennant presented a webinar highlighting key findings and actionable insights from the study. You can watch the webinar recording below;a transcript of the webinar is provided.
Justin Ramb: Hello everybody. This is Justin Ramb, president of Bigeye. I’d like to welcome you today to today’s webinar featuring highlights from the Bigeye 2019 US Pet Industry Study. We are excited to show you some great data this afternoon. And just so you know, there’s no need to take notes as a recording of this webinar will be available for on-demand access. We’ll send out a link to everyone who registered for today’s event within two to three business days. And we’d love to hear from you. We encourage participation and we’ll answer any questions you may have immediately following this presentation. Your lines are muted, so please feel free to send any questions or comments using the question box in the GoTo webinar panel or email us at email@example.com. Would love any feedback you have, comments, tips, insights that you have that you’d like to share, anything that you would like to give to the rest of the audience. So before we dive in, just a little bit of background about each of our presenters today. This is Justin Ramb, founder and president of Bigeye. We opened our doors in 2002 and are an audience-focused, creative-driven, full-service marketing and advertising agency. We are based in sunny Orlando, Florida, but we serve clients across the US and beyond. Insights and research have become central to every engagement the agency undertakes for its clients often during the discovery phase, as well as supporting creative development. Insights really is our heartbeat; it is in the DNA of our agency, understanding the audience and how they’re best going to consume your products or services. I am a pet parent, my wonderful King Charles cavalier, Rosie. And now I’ll turn it over to Dana.
Dana Cassell: Hi, I’m Dana Cassell, senior strategist at Bigeye. I’ve been with the agency for about a decade, and in my role, I focus on consumer behavior, interpreting the results and findings from primary and secondary research. I’m also responsible for synthesizing data into insights that help our clients build strategically differentiated brands. I’m also a pet parent. We have Kona who is a black lab that turned one this week and an 11-year-old orange Tabby cat named Baxter.
Adrian Tennant: Hello, I’m Adrian Tennant, VP of insights, at Bigeye. I’ve spent more than two decades working in advertising and marketing in digital planning and strategy roles, but today I lead Bigeye’s quantitative, qualitative, and neuromarketing studies to inform media planning and creative strategies. I too am a pet parent. I have two four-year-old Maine Coon cats, Polly and Mango, plus a 29-gallon aquarium with various fish, including tetras, cories, and a pleco named Bob. To those of you just joining us, welcome.
Justin Ramb: So why this research study and why now? In 1988, 56% of US households had one or more pets. Thirty-one years later, the percentage stands at 67% – that’s an 11% increase, which means today 85 million households in the US have pets and this year $75 billion will be spent on pet-related products and services. Bigeye works with clients in the pet care space, so we are committed to tracking trends in this market to help our clients develop breakthrough marketing and communication strategies. We decided to undertake this primary research study and the results we’re sharing with you today. Over to Adrian.
Adrian Tennant: The objective of Bigeye’s 2019 US Pet Industry Study is to yield insights into the buying habits and attitudes of owners of domestic pets. We collected the data for this primary research in July and August of this year from a sample of 784 adults aged 25 to 55 located across the United States. For reporting purposes, we’ve grouped respondents into the four geographic regions shown here: the South; the West; the Midwest; and the Northeast. Unless noted otherwise, the results we’re sharing with you today have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5% at the 95% confidence level. Dana, over to you.
Dana Cassell: Thanks, Adrian. So let’s get started by taking a look at pet ownership, which animals are most popular, and how ownership may be influenced by the environment. Most owners of pets have dogs and or cats. 75% of respondents in our study owned dogs, and 46% owned cats. Ownership of other animals are more modest with fish at 10 percent, birds at 6%, and small mammals at 4%. Because most families that own fish have more than one fish in that home, fish outnumber other domestic pets: estimated at 139 million in the United States as of 2018. Sixty-six percent of respondents in our study own one pet, while 25% have two pets, and 9% have more than two. Single pet ownership is most prevalent among respondents living in apartments, townhouses, and condos. Multiple pets are more likely among cat, bird, and fish owners living in single-family homes. Ninety-five percent of owners consider pets a member of their family; 12% of owners consider their pets probably a member of the family, while 83% consider their pets definitely a member of the family. Responses were consistent on this question from owners across regions, within different household income bands, and all age ranges. This really is illuminating about how we view our pets and how humanization influences pet products, services, and brand premiumization. So when is the best time to introduce a pet into a family? In a separate study undertaken within the research platform Suzy, Bigeye asked 503 mothers across the US how old a child should be when a pet is introduced into the home. In open-ended responses, which you can see here, 42% indicated ages two through seven, and 27% said ages seven through 11 years old. Where do we find our pets? Thirty-nine percent of pets are purchased: 21% from a breeder, 13% from stores, and 5% online. Thirty-six percent of pets are adopted, typically from a shelter. For 14% of respondents, family and friends were a source, and 7% reported taking in a stray. We noted that adoption is far more likely with respondents in the West, in the suburbs, and in two-person households. Seventy percent of pets were acquired with some pre consideration: higher percentages of women, people earning between $35,000 and $50,000 annually, people living in rural areas, and those who got their pet from a friend or relative tended to be more spontaneous than other segments.
Adrian Tennant: Thanks, Dana. Let’s turn now to what we’re buying for our pets and where from. Pet owners purchase a variety of items on a regular basis. Treats and toys top the list: 73% of pet owners report buying treats, while 62% purchase toys. Fifty-four percent of owners purchased specialty food and 41% buy store brands. Further down the list are medicine and pet sundries, such as grooming supplies, bedding, accessories, apparel and training aids, close out the list of pet owners’ regular purchases. Spend is comparable across most segments. Overall, 76% of owners spend less than $100 per month on pet items; for 45% of owners, this adds up to between $600 and $1,200 per year, but 19% spend double that rate – up to $2,400 annually. Omnichannel retailers’ in-store purchases for pet-related products still outpace online. Individually, Walmart tops the list: 66% shopped for pet products there in the past year. PetSmart at 62%, Petco at 56%, and Chewy.com at 44%, top the list of pet-specific retailers. Owners in the West were more likely than those in other regions to purchase in-store at Petco, and much more likely to purchase from Costco or Sam’s Club. Owners located in the Northeast were much more likely than others to purchase from drug stores such as CVS, Walgreens, and Duane Reade. In addition to products, pet owners purchase services. At 36%, veterinary care tops the categories of pet services. Grooming is second-most popular at 24%. Pet sitter/feeder combined with walkers is at 14%, level with the combined categories of boarding and daycare. Close to half of all pet owners – 45 percent – give their pet vitamins or supplements. Twenty-five percent have insurance for their pet – 40 percent of owners with insurance said that a vet recommendation most influenced their decision to purchase. Twenty-three percent participate in medicine, vitamin, or supplement subscriptions. It’s worth noting that 86% of owners spend under $1,000 per year on medical care for their pets. Just over one-third of owners – 34% – participate in one or more pet-related subscription services. Among those owners that subscribe, 63 percent do so for food, while just over half – 52% – subscribe for toys and accessories. Forty-eight percent subscribe for health products or supplements and 35% for pet treats. For these services, a particular demographic pattern plays out: owners aged 25-34, living in a townhome or a condo, and in an urban area are more likely to subscribe than other groups. These findings held true across all four regions of the US. So with Halloween just around the corner, more than one-third of all pet owners (36%) at least sometimes purchase costumes for their pets. The practice is most widespread among owners aged 25-34, of 2 or more pets, dog owners, those living in apartments, townhomes, and condos, in urban areas. Female and male owners are equally likely to purchase costumes. Back to you, Dana.
Dana Cassell: Thanks, Adrian. Cannabidiol – or CBD – is derived from hemp or cannabis, but is non-psychoactive, making it accessible to almost anyone, including pets. CBD has gone mainstream in record time and is considered a treatment for everything from anxiety to arthritis pain. But how willing are pet parents to ditch chew toys in favor of CBD-infused treats? The Bigeye study finds that CBD is currently administered by 17% of pet owners; 42% don’t currently use CBD-infused products but would consider doing so for their pet in the future; about a quarter – 24% – are holdouts, and 17 percent are unsure. Pet owners currently using CBD products are much more likely than non-users to have health insurance for their pets: 56% of those currently using CBD have insurance, compared with 25% of all owners. Pet owners see many potential uses for CBD. The dominant CBD indication is as an anxiety and stress reducer: 43 percent of users are currently administering CBD for that purpose and 37% of owners open to its use would use it for that. Sixteen percent of owners – users and non-users – use or would consider CBD to treat nausea, 15% for seizures, 13% for cancer symptoms, and 9% to treat gastrointestinal issues. Non-users are more likely than current users to consider CBD for alleviating cancer symptoms and gastrointestinal issues by 4 to 7 percentage points, respectively. The full report, which will be sent to everyone who registered for today’s webinar, includes a lot more about owners’ attitudes towards the use of CBD for their pets. A fascinating consumer trend. Back to you, Adrian.
Adrian Tennant: Thanks, Dana. So how do owners decide what to feed their pets, and what influences the trial of new products and services? When it comes to deciding what to feed their pets, 49 percent – almost half of all owners – said they look to recommendations from their veterinarian; 37 percent said advice from friends and family; one-third of respondents identified product reviews as strongly influencing their selection. When we asked what drives pet owners to try new products, 21% of owners selected coupon, sale, or discount. Coupons seem a bit anachronistic, but in the digital age they double as discount codes and consumers’ online research often includes checking for the availability of such codes. At 20% is the more attribute-based nutritional benefit. Next were reviews at 13% and friend recommendations at 12%. At 11%, samples work on the same premise as coupons. This chart shows the most influential factors in pet product decision factors, measured individually on a scale from zero to ten, to gauge their influence. The higher the average score, the greater the influence. In the upper-tier are direct health benefits offered as well as product quality in the form of longevity or durability. Value is a critical factor, meaning that the decision is about more than just price. And again, vet recommendations play an influential role Pet owners who subscribe learned about their subscription service through a variety of sources. One-third of subscribers learned about their service from a website, while 18% said an advertisement, and 14% said word of mouth. Which segues nicely with the final section of our study – back to you, Dana.
Dana Cassell: Thanks, Adrian. As a marketing communications agency, we especially want to know pet owners interact with various ad formats and on what devices. Smartphones really are omnipresent: use of the device pervades every corner of our lives. For many, smartphones are the most available, convenient, and immediate point of access to information. So it is perhaps not surprising that in the Bigeye study, 38% of pet owners indicate the smartphone is their preferred device for engaging with advertisements. For 28% of pet owners, it’s the television, and for almost one-quarter, it’s a laptop or desktop computer. We do see some significant generational differences in device usage. The most notable variations are based on age: owners younger than 35 (47%) are most willing to engage with advertisements using their smartphones. Those 45 and older lean more toward TV (38%) than smartphones (26%). We also observe some variations based on the area. Although the smartphone dominates overall, pet owners in suburban areas were 12 percentage points (34%) less likely than owners in rural areas (46%) to engage with advertisements on their phones. TV is least likely to be engaged with by urban pet owners (23%) compared to those in suburban (31%) and rural areas (30%). Forty-one percent of pet owners selected TV commercials as their preferred format for advertisements. Combining Facebook (19%) and Instagram (11%) with influencers (4%), social media represents 34%. Video, the category considered emergent, hits 21% and consistency across different age groups confirms this trend. Pet owners aged 45-55 lean more toward TV ads while those younger than 35 favor social media and video-based ads. One thing is clear – video ads produced for display on smartphones are most likely to resonate with Millennial pet owners. We’ve not had time to cover everything in the report, but let’s take a minute to highlight some of the trendlines. Millennial pet owners are about half as likely to be married or living with a partner than previous generations and are also delaying parenthood. This generational difference has resulted in higher rates of pet ownership among this cohort and for some owners, pets have become a replacement for children. With a high percentage of younger pet owners living in apartments in urban and suburban areas, multi-family property developers should emphasize pet-friendly amenities and highlight nearby city parks or trails for dog walking in their marketing communications. Those aged 25-34 were most likely to state their pets had influenced where they live. Many pets are left alone for a large portion of the day and owner awareness of the stress this can cause is growing. In fact, for the owners in our study already using CBD products for their pets, as well as those that would be interested in doing so, the alleviation of anxiety is their primary reason for using CBD. While Gen X-ers and Millennials (Gen Y) are as likely as each other to access information via a smartphone the older generation is more likely to favor TV commercials to learn about pet products. But to reach younger owners, social media and online videos are key. Over to you, Adrian.
Adrian Tennant: Thanks. In our study, 45% of owners reported spending between $600 and $1,200 annually on pet food, treats, medical care, and entertainment. And with almost 20% of owners spending up to $2,400 per year, it’s clear to see why the US market is worth $75 billion in 2019. We don’t want to jinx it, but the market looks pretty recession-proof based on these data points. With the increased humanization of pets comes the opportunity for direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands to provide pet-friendly versions of the products that their owners already use and enjoy themselves — everything from vitamins and nutritional supplements to Instagram-friendly costumes. Opportunities also exist for healthcare and medical device manufacturers, as activity trackers and wearables are becoming part of the day-to-day lives of a growing number of pets, making them as connected as their human owners. Smartphones support the monitoring of such devices within a tech ecosystem. Our study indicates pet owners are open to the convenience of subscription services, especially those in the 25-34 age group. Owners seek out pet food products that they perceive as having nutritional benefits — often at a price premium. Obesity is increasingly an issue for pets, and pet food formulations designed to maintain a healthy weight, as well as “all-natural” diets, hairball control, etc. reflect the breadth of consumer choice in the category. Now I’m going to hand back to you, Justin.
Justin Ramb: Thanks, Adrian and Dana, we have just a few minutes left, so if you have any questions, please use the question box in the GoToWebinar on the side, or if you would like to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. That would be great. We have received some questions during the webinar, so we’d like to take those right now. Beth asks, did you see any differences in the ways men and women respond to the survey? Dana, would you like to take this one?
Dana Cassell: Sure. The short answer is that no we didn’t, we did not see a statistically significant difference in responses from men and women. While we did have a great cross-section in gender, but I want to tell you, I’m really interested in the overlap of our research in mom marketing and in pet industry marketing because we saw 95% of pet owners view their pets as a member of the family. So we are really interested in our findings about communicating with parents the way that they make purchasing decisions for their children and the parallels that might have in this industry.
Justin Ramb: Great. Thanks, Dana. Our next question, Erik asks, could you expand on what differences you saw between generations and media channels? Adrian one for you to take.
Adrian Tennant: Yes, thank you. So this is something we didn’t really highlight today, but generational preferences, definitely reflect differences in what drives owners to try new products. You know, the youngest cohort in our study, those between 25 and 34, surprisingly over-index for email. That was a surprise for us – as well as commercials. and social media. The next cohort, ages 35 to 44, over-index for recommendations from friends and family. That’s still the most influential group. While the oldest cohort in this study, those aged 45 to 55, significantly over-index for coupons or discounts and were the most likely to be interested in nutritional benefits.
Justin Ramb: Great. Thank you. Adrian. Next question from Peter, is there a difference between the money amount spent on pets based on geography?
Dana Cassell: Well, we did see that owners the South are the most generous pet owners and their average I think is about $200 a month, which you might remember is about double what the majority of the respondents in our study say. So yeah, in the South we saw a bit more generosity among owners toward their pets.
Justin Ramb: Thanks, Dana. Ryan asks for pet owners with pet insurance, was there a variance by age of pet parents?
Adrian Tennant: Yes, there was, and guess what everybody? It was the younger owners that were most likely to have pet insurance, which again surprised us. We thought it would be the older parents, but no. Those young ones really are most committed as pet parents in every respect. They were definitely the ones most likely to buy health insurance.
Justin Ramb: Linda, thank you. Your question, your question is does your study address the frequency of purchases by category specifically related to the slide that included the pet products purchased frequently?
Adrian Tennant: Yes, so I can take that one. So when we looked at the purchase of food, we did see some differences in frequency. Folks with large mammals – we’re thinking typically for this study that was horses – were the least likely to buy food on a regular basis, whereas the owners of reptiles and amphibians, were more likely to be purchasing food on a weekly basis. And we assumed that that was because that’s live food in many cases. For the vast majority of folks, it was definitely every few weeks to monthly. I hope that answers the question.
Justin Ramb: Great. Let’s see here. Jason asked, “you reported pet insurance adoption at around 25%. That sounds very high. I’ve typically seen estimates for US pet health insurance penetration closer to 2%. What am I missing?”
Adrian Tennant: I think that is a great question. We can only report how 784 respondents responded to the survey. I agree that seems like quite a big variance. Obviously, all of our folks were pet parents and I guess prepared to answer a survey about being pet parents and their purchase behaviors. I don’t know how to attribute that difference.
Justin Ramb: Great. Any other questions? I will touch on this. Catherine, you asked, “will we be able to get a copy of the report after this webinar?” Absolutely. Right after this call, everybody that registered for the webinar will receive a link to download the report. It is a wonderful report – it unpacks a lot of what has been covered with a lot of insights from our team on what we discovered through the data. So, absolutely you’ll get a copy of that report. I really do hope everybody enjoyed the information we shared today. We are excited to release the report. This afternoon we’ll also be doing a podcast with the team to discuss the results in more detail. We will be sending out an email with a link to the podcast once that goes up. And if you have any questions that we didn’t get to or you think about after, or after you receive the report and would like some more information, please email us email@example.com and we’ll make sure we address them in a podcast or follow up with you individually. We’ll also include details of the podcast and the webinar recording – all of that will be sent to you as well. So finally, on behalf of Dana, Adrian, and myself and the entire Bigeye team, we thank you for attending today’s webinar. Have a great afternoon.
If you aren’t taking advantage of the power of brand video, then you’re ceding an important edge to your competitors. Here’s what you need to get started.
Let’s say you’ve got an exciting new product and you want to introduce it to consumers in the most impactful way possible. How would you go about it? If you’re not immediately thinking “brand videos,” then we urge you to keep reading.
Why Brand Videos Have Become an Indispensable Marketing Tool
Right now, you’re reading a blog — and there’s nothing wrong with that. Blogs are a tried-and-true medium for short, informational content. Yet the blog should be merely a single arrow in your quiver. Audiences don’t always have the time or inclination to read, yet they can almost always find time to watch a short video — provided it reaches out and wrests their attention away from the other dozen things competing for it.
That’s one reason you’ve likely been deluged lately with explainer videos and all other sorts of branded video content. Videos simply work. People engage with them at higher levels than seen with ads or written content.
There’s another factor motivating the brand video proliferation: The learning curve and production costs associated with professional video creation have declined radically in recent years. This means that brands have no reason to avoid joining the revolution.
So How Do I Tell My Brand Story Through Video?
Here’s the good news: Connecting with audiences via video is relatively simple, provided you can follow a few smart practices. When creating brand videos, here are some key things on which to focus:
Story is paramount — and so are people. Creating brand videos simply because “everyone says people prefer video” won’t accomplish much. You still need a compelling narrative that audiences will relate to. Think about a simple yet effective way you can frame your brand story around human characters. Any newspaper editor or photographer will tell you that images of static buildings or landscapes don’t reach people or move copy. As humans, we are naturally drawn to each other, and this extends to our engagement with photos and video. Forego the facts, figures, and product features (or at least consign them to secondary status) and put people front and center in your videos. By focusing on one person, brands can make larger and more complex issues more relatable.
Take a deep dive into how we approach our work. Learn about our creative thinking and our strategical approach
Forge an emotional connection. Savvy brands have long known that a true emotional connection with audiences is the gold standard in advertising and marketing. Nothing converts and builds long-term loyalty like sparking a visceral, emotional reaction. Fortunately, brand videos are a fantastic format for forging these kinds of connections. By using images, dialogue and music to full effect, a great brand video can tell an emotionally resonant story in as little as 30 seconds.
Reach for the original. Remember how we mentioned that proliferation of video? That’s why it’s essential that you take creative risks and push for something original. Audiences today are extremely savvy and cynical about brand messaging. Yet you can penetrate their defenses by delivering something that delights or inspires. Here’s one great example. It’s important, however, to understand your limitations — nobody is looking for an avant-garde HVAC brand video.
Maintain your messaging. Your brand videos are ultimately an extension of your overall brand messaging. They should speak with your voice, project your values, and be calibrated to appeal to your specific audience. While it’s important for your content to reach for creativity and originality, this must still occur within the larger context of your brand messaging.
Don’t skimp on video production. This one is easy — there’s no excuse for a cheesy (unintentionally, at least) or cheap-looking brand video. The cost and skill needed to produce respectable content has plummeted.
Brand messaging is critical to the health of your business. Here’s a closer look at some of the most commonly asked questions about the subject.
Every business owner wants to build deep, long-lasting relationships with customers. Brand messaging is the mechanism by which this is accomplished. Every communication an enterprise engages in should be done with proper brand messaging in mind.
When done right, it inspires, informs, persuades and catalyzes audiences. When done poorly, it can do serious reputational harm.
Now that we’ve understood the stakes involved, let’s take a closer look at some of the most common questions business owners have about brand messaging.
Brand Messaging FAQ
1. I’m a brand messaging neophyte — can you explain what it means in two sentences?
Sure. Brand messaging is the language, voice, tone, and ideas that a business uses to convey its core value proposition and company values.
2. Can you give me an example?
Absolutely. The classic Nike slogan “Just Do It” is a famous example of potent brand messaging. It distills the company’s ethos into three unforgettable words.
3. What are the qualities that make brand messaging effective?
The same qualities that make interpersonal communication effective, for the most part. Great brand messaging resonates with audiences and builds a connection. It inspires, catalyzes audiences into action and engenders a sense of personal identification with the brand. It’s how lifestyle brands are created and lifelong customers are made.
4. What happens when brand messaging goes wide of the mark?
If you’re lucky, audiences simply won’t respond to it. In situations where brands badly misjudge their voice or misunderstand their audience, poor brand messaging can alienate people, anger them, and turn them into another brand’s loyal customers.
5. So how does one create effective brand messaging?
Here’s where things get a bit more challenging. First, brands need to identify and segment their audience. If you don’t know who you’re selling to, you’re just throwing darts in the dark. Do research, identify your audience, and query them. What motivates them? What matters to them? How do they engage with brands? By understanding the answers to these questions, brands can then draw a line between their customers’ motivations and their own products and services, their values, and their unique value proposition.
6.What else is important?
One word: Differentiation. When you’re developing a brand messaging strategy, it’s natural to review what your competitors are doing. After all, you’re targeting the same audience, so there should be some overlap between your messaging strategy. That said, it’s critical to differentiate your product or service. Sometimes you can accomplish this through features or innovations, but in many industries, it’s the branding itself that is the primary differentiator. So while you want your messaging to be informed by what your competitors are doing, you don’t want to follow what they are doing. Develop your own unique, differentiated voice and message.
7. Any other tips?
Yes. Consumers are inundated by advertising and marketing messages, so it’s important to develop language and themes that stand out. Seek to be compelling and memorable, rather than aiming for a bland, middle of the road voice designed to appeal to the broadest possible demographic. It’s also critically important to be clear and concise — audiences will disengage immediately if you’re sending confusing messages. Place the audience at the center of the story and explain to them exactly what your brand can do for them. Make sure that your messaging comes through in every bit of content or communication you author, and always ensure your brand speaks in a unified and consistent voice.
Finding the Right Brand Messaging Agency
At BIGEYE, we’re experts when it comes to resonant brand messaging. Whether you’re looking for an innovative approach to brand video or new, tech-forward ways to reach your desired audiences, we can help.
Contact us today to learn more about what a sophisticated brand messaging strategy can do for your firm.