Know Your Audience with Persona Development

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.

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How to Take Your Brand Strategy to the Next Level in 2020

At the beginning of the new decade, we are poised on the precipice of big changes when it comes to driving brand strategy for your company.

Looking to expand your company’s brand outreach over 2020 and into the new decade? Here are just a few tips to stay ahead of the pack in a rapidly evolving marketing environment.

1. Diversify your outreach

Diversification has been a sector buzzword for quite some time, but as we progress into 2020, the advantages of spreading your brand outreach through a range of marketing channels have never been more pronounced. The bottom line is this: if you want to grow your brand and attract more customers, you must reach targeted and general customers where they are. Although social media remains a vital piece of the modern branding puzzle, if growth is your goal, you simply can’t place too much emphasis on social media alone.

The leading United Kingdom business magazine Business Matters recommends a varied branding outreach strategy, bolstered by elements that include “a well-designed website, great social media across multiple platforms, digital PR, in-person networking and email marketing.” Plus, for most companies seeking to grow its brand, traditional media outlets such as print, broadcasting, and cable channels, still play a major role.

2. Integrate consumer-facing IoT

The Internet of Things (IoT) — the vast and diverse network of interrelated digital devices and smart machines that not only interact with but learn from one another — is ready to “revolutionize branding.” Or so says no less an authority than Forbes Magazine, which points to the data and control of IoT technology as a key tool for companies that have “blurred the lines between digital and brand strategy, effectively making them function as one, in many cases.”

In short, the IoT not only gives companies ample opportunity to grow and expand their branding operations, but it can be instrumental in boosting the brand unity and overall cohesion that is so key to success in the modern consumer sector.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the tech-driven retail giant Amazon is positioned at the cutting edge of IoT-driven branding with network and product unifying devices such as the Amazon Echo. This year, Amazon announced three new wearable technology products (Echo Frames, Echo Loop, and Echo Buds) that promise to draw the average consumer even deeper into the IoT world.

3. Learn to use the full potential of Google to drive traffic to your virtual doorstep

Your online branding strategy may have be ambling forward with an official website and a few relatively well-managed social media pages. You may even have launched a basic search engine optimization (SEO) campaign. But if you really want connect with existing and prospective customers online, you must remain up to date with the ongoing developments of Google.

Facilitating over 90 percent of all online searches, Google is, essentially, the only search engine that truly matters. In order to make the most of Google’s tremendous potential, companies should engage a brand strategy agency with the expertise to use the search engine’s rapidly evolving policies and particular idiosyncrasies in order to optimize online content and drive SEO. 

4. Leverage the power of branded apps

Branded digital applications are also a great way to expand and solidify brand loyalty. Industry giants such as McDonald’s and Starbucks have already learned the tremendous value of these apps, which can provide tremendous insights into the buying habits of customers. On the consumer side, Forbes identifies

“incentivization and gamification” as “two tried-and-true carrots” that can make branded apps irresistible.

Starbucks’ branded app, for example, offers discounts for devoted customers, provides an easy payment method for in-store purchases, and allows for the storage of gift card credit. In short, the Starbucks app has largely replaced Starbucks loyalty cards and similar physical branding outreach products.

No matter what form your branded app takes, it can serve as a powerful centerpiece for much of your brand strategy. After all, what can identify a loyal customer faster than an app on his or her smartphone?

To learn more

For more information about managing and growing your brand over 2020 and for years to come, you should consider contacting a brand strategy agency that can address the specific needs and unique attributes of your company and the business sector in which it operates. A forward-thinking marketing firm, Bigeye can help you chart a brand strategy that can take you through the new decade.

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How to Create Environmental Branding for a Bank

If you’re not embracing environmental branding for your financial institution, you’re missing out on a key piece of the overall marketing puzzle.

Companies in the retail sector have long leveraged the power of the branded environment (incorporating an organization’s brand and the distinctive characteristics of that brand into the interior and/or exterior design of its brick-and-mortar stores). Whether it means liberally integrating the retailer’s name into physical location signage or imbuing in-store displays with the unique charm and appeal of the retailer’s brand identity, environmental branding can work wonders when it comes to driving customer loyalty and on-site sales.

The banking industry, however, has traditionally lagged far behind top retailers when it comes to leveraging the power of branded environments. This makes perfect sense considering the history of banks in the United States and elsewhere. In most communities, there was only one bank in operation. Effective branding and marketing operations in general were completely unnecessary. Customers banked with a specific organization because it was their only option, not because they preferred it over any available alternatives.

Now increasingly savvy about branding practices, the financial institutions of today are finally beginning to reverse this trend, realizing that effective branding is absolutely essential if they want to get a leg up on the competition in the modern marketplace. The creation and maintenance of branded environments should be an absolutely essential component of any banking organization’s greater marketing efforts.

If you are looking for ways to develop effective branded environments for your bank location(s), you will want to employ a marketing agency with the established expertise to address the specific wants and needs of your particular institution. The following four guidelines can get you headed in the right direction. 

1. Concentrate on relationship building in the lobby area

When it comes to building a new bank branch or remodeling an existing bank location, the design masterminds at HTG Architects suggest rethinking the fundamental purpose of your lobby area. As HTG puts it, “Co-branding can change your space from “transaction-based” to “relationship-based.” And in today’s banking world, this shift can make all the difference.”

In addition to incorporating ample on-brand elements into your lobby, HTG suggests reducing the size of banking transaction areas if it can make lobby space feel more comfortable and inviting.

2. Reflect evolving technology

Different banking organizations will inevitably target different consumer demographics, but the vast majority of todays’ customer base will respond favorably to technological innovation. This is particularly true of consumers in the modern banking sector, who tend to expect the companies with which they partner to be on the cutting edge in terms of state-of-the-art financial operations and security measures.

In order to reinforce strong technological ties, the physical design of brick-and-mortar bank branches must reflect high-tech engagement in a variety of ways. This might mean the inclusion of advanced ATM machines and smart kiosks or it might mean simply crafting on-site sign imagery and typography that is compatible with technological themes.

3. Emphasize convenience and public responsibility

Smart financial institutions will also design their buildings to not only deliver optimum customer convenience, but reinforce their commitment to public service through effective on-site messaging. Two great examples of this emphasis on respect and responsibility are ADA compliance and environmental sustainability.

All bank locations should go far beyond the mandated regulations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to ensure that all customers have equal access to banking processes regardless of physical or mental disability. Furthermore, bank locations should offer the latest in recycling amenities, responsible resourcing, paperless technology, and other green modalities. Remember, your physical location speaks volumes about your company’s priorities and values.

4. Consider environmental co-branding

If you really want to boost consumer convenience while engendering considerable lobby cross-traffic, you may want to look into partnering with a well-known brand from another business sector and welcoming that partner into the physical space of your bank branch(es). While traditional environmental co-branding partnerships in the banking sector have included insurance agencies, accountants, and title companies, more and more banks are incorporating comfort-inducing retail organizations such as coffee shops into their lobby areas.

For more information

To guide them through the considerable intricacies of the environmental branding process, wise companies seek out the assistance of highly trained and specialized marketing professionals. An environmental branding agency that is both forward thinking and rooted in current best practices, Bigeye can answer any questions that you might have about your bank’s practical environmental branding options.

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Using Look-Alike Modeling for Multifamily Marketing Outreach

A proven technique for expanding audience for multifamily property developers, look-alike modeling should be a key component of any advertising campaign.

Look-alike modeling defined

Look-alike modeling certainly isn’t a new technique on the modern marketing landscape, but far too many multifamily developers and apartment complex owners fail to grasp just how valuable it can be when it comes to broadening their marketing audience base and spurring overall renter conversions.

Briefly defined, look-alike modeling regards your current consumer base as a “seed audience” that can be used to cultivate a far larger audience base while mainlining highly relevant and precise target marketing practices. In other words, a skilled marketing professional will begin to create a look-alike model by analyzing your existing target audience and identifying individual consumers of exceptionally high value. The specific characteristics and behaviors of these consumers can then be used as a template in efforts to reach out to similar individuals that lie beyond the limited purview of your existing marketing efforts.

The prevalence and effectiveness of look-alike modeling

As reported in the leading sales and marketing medial outlet Business 2 Community, a 2014 study by eXelate determined that a 73 percent of American advertising agencies and 64 percent of advertisers regularly employ look-alike modeling to “enhance their targeting marketing focus.” Furthermore, among the advertising agencies that actively engage in the technique, roughly half say that it improved the overall performance of their marketing campaigns by 100 to 200 percent.

Although no other qualified marketing industry resource has released a comprehensive survey of look-alike modeling since this most recent eXelate report, it is safe to assume that the practice has only expanded and become more effective thanks to the continuing evolution of marketing standards and improvements in digital technology.

The complex nature of the look-alike modeling process

As we have previously discussed, the look-alike modeling process begins when a qualified professional isolates the most valuable members of an existing marketing audience and analyzes their defining attributes. This requires a great deal of expertise because, among other potential problems, marketers who focus on the wrong consumer attributes are bound to skew final look-alike modeling results and set the process off in a decidedly less fruitful direction.

GlobalWide Media Analytics Manager Zackary Cantor offered a perfect example of this issue in a recent article for the leading global performance marketing publication PerformanceIN. Detailing look-alike modeling work that he undertook for an apartment rental site that sought to boost overall numbers of online rental applications, he demonstrated the need to value certain consumer attributes far more than others.

While many look-alike modeling processes simply look for overlaps in general characteristics and behaviors among different consumer profiles, Cantor quickly realized that this particular model had to pay closer attention to profile attributes for home ownership. Even prospective new audience members who share many attributes in common with the ideal target consumer were “very unlikely” to submit a rental application if they showed a propensity toward home ownership.

Look-alike modeling guidelines

The intricate nature of look-alike modeling makes it truly effective only in the hands of highly experienced of digital marketing professionals. But how can you tell if your multifamily developer marketing agency has what it takes to produce the look-alike modeling results that you seek? Here are just a couple of guidelines for securing the very best look-alike modeling services available:

  • Pay close attention to any negative predictors – A strong propensity toward home ownership is only one of may potential negative predictors that can easily trump a whole host of commonalities between the most valuable members of your existing marketing audience and the expanded audience base that you want. It is absolute vital to place all data in proper context when determining consumer similarities and differences in order to identify strong negative predicators and give them the appropriate weight in your final look-alike model.
  • Insist on full look-alike model transparency – We have already examined the ways in which the underlying elements of a less than optimal look-alike modeling framework can lead to less than desirable results. If your marketing agency can’t give you a basic understanding of the predictive modeling method that they are employing on your behalf, you may want to look elsewhere for your look-alike modeling needs.

How Bigeye can help

If you’re looking for a multifamily developer marketing agency with extensive expertise in look-alike modeling and other techniques that can expand your potential customer base and drive prospective renters to your door, contact a skilled and knowledgeable Bigeye representative today.

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Can You Benefit from Rebrand Apartment Marketing?

How can you tell when your existing apartment brand is no longer working, and if you should pursue rebrand apartment marketing? These tips can help you decide.

The importance of a strong apartment brand

Every good apartment marketer is well aware of the value attached to touting the key features and amenities of their units and complexes. Establishing a key fundamental apartment brand, however, may be even more important.

In short, a brand that is both psychologically/emotionally compelling and relevant to the rental properties under your purview can do wonders when it comes to driving traffic online and leading customers to your door. The Independent business news resource Small Biz Genius reinforces this fact by citing studies from multiple research authorities.

Circle Research, for example, has shown that 24 percent of business-to-business marketers regard branding as crucial for growth. Furthermore, Fundra has determined that 56 percent of consumers remain loyal to brands that “get them,” and 89 percent of customers remain loyal to brands that “share their values.”

Knowing when rebrand apartment marketing becomes beneficial

Regardless of how much care you initially put into your apartment brand, if you have had that brand for any significant period of time, you have certainly built up a good amount of brand equity. Even if your brand is struggling to connect positively with a large audience, it has value, both online (in terms of domain authority with search engines such as Google) and in the hearts and minds of at least certain segments of the general public.

By launching a completed rebrand, you must unfortunately forfeit all of the brand equity that you have previously accrued. In other words, you have to be ready to start entirely from scratch when it comes to building consumer name recognition and brand loyalty. So ultimately choosing to pursue rebrand your apartment complex is certainly nothing to be taken lightly.

So how can you tell when your apartment complex needs to cut its losses and start over with a whole new image? Industry experts have identified the four following circumstances as key progenitors of an valuable and/or essential apartment marketing rebrand:

  • Property Under New Ownership – If you’re a multi-property owner who has recently acquired a new property, you will want to conduct a thorough professional assessment of its existing brand to ensure that it is effectively connecting with your key demographic and/or the general public at large. Even if the existing brand of your new apartment complex happens to past muster, you will still want to consider an apartment marketing rebrand in order to bring that complex’s branding more in line with that of your other complexes.
  • New Capital Improvements – As we have previously discussed, your brand should reflect the unique value that your apartment complex provides and presents. For this reason, planned complex remodeling and other new capital improvements offer an excellent opportunity for a beneficial apartment marketing rebrand. Just make sure that your property upgrades are thoroughly reflected in your new overall brand image.
  • Overcoming a Poor Reputation – If you are forced to rebrand due to bad online reviews or a foundering reputation in the public sphere, you must ensure that your new brand makes a clear and distinct break from your old brand. This type of rebrand will be particularly tricky to plan and execute because you must concurrently build a new brand while “doing damage control” and dealing with fallout from your previous brand.
  • Expanding Your Audience Base – A desire or need to grow or shift your current target demographic may coincide with one or more of the situations outlined above. No matter what factors happen to precipitate your audience expansion plans, comprehensive demographic research and analysis must be undertaken to identify the specific characteristics and desires of your new target demographic.

For more information

If you’re unsure if an apartment rebrand is right for you or are ready to take the first step toward a new and better brand for your complex, contact a specialized rebrand apartment marketing agency today. The professionals at Bigeye have the tools and experience that you need to get a fresh start in a highly competitive industry.

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Not a Pet, But a Family Member: The Evolution of Pet Marketing

Pets have graduated to full-fledged family members. Here’s what brands need to know to ensure their pet product marketing is keeping pace.

Pets aren’t really pets anymore. Today, many people are more likely to regard themselves as “parents” rather than “owners” of their animals — and they want the very best for their children. Pet product marketing needs to reflect this cultural change — and brands that fail to adapt will soon fall out of favor with pet-crazed consumers.

Trending towards humanization

One stroll through a pet store or a dog park will tell you everything you need to know about how the treatment of pets in society has evolved. A generation or two ago, parents would often purchase or adopt a dog or a cat “for the children” and then provide the animal with the bare minimum level of care and attention.

Today’s pets are comparatively lavished with attention, and there are a few reasons for this shift. First, millennials have delayed marriage and child-rearing longer than any previous generation, largely due to economic uncertainty. Pets serve as “proxy children” or “starter children” for many people in this segment.

Second, the proliferation of social media has created a situation where everyone wants to document and share their lives – and pets play a major role in this. Open up Instagram, Facebook or any other social app, and you’ll be deluged with animal photos.

Pet ownership numbers have also sharply increased, rising from 56% to 68% over the last three decades. As you might expect, younger people are overrepresented in pet ownership, accounting for 62% of all pet owning households.

How the pet industry – and pet ownership – are evolving

Changing cultural dynamics around pet ownership are reflected in larger trends inside the pet industry. Let’s take a closer look at a few of the most important trends, and how pet product marketing is adapting.

  • Direct to consumer pet boxes 

 Brands have used the DTC subscription box model to great effect, as it allows consumers to feel like they are receiving a gift in the mail each month and doesn’t require driving to a brick and mortar shop. This model has been especially successful in the pet sector; brands such as Bark have experienced fast growth by shipping curated boxes of dog treats and toys direct to consumer doorsteps.

  • Elevated pet food 

The days of feeding pets undifferentiated food brands of questionable quality are over. Today, pet owners are buying pet food much in the same way they purchase human products — and pet food marketing should reflect this. Witness the recent craze over grain-free dog food, which mimics in some ways the “gluten-free” craze of the last few years.

  • TV for dogs 

Pet parents are understandably worried about leaving their animals alone for extended periods of time. Dog TV — a new network that creates dog-centric television programming – purports to solve this problem. When you depart for work in the morning, you can position your dog in front of the TV screen, where he can watch hours of programming calibrated to his interest and level of understanding.

  • Dating apps for dog lovers 

People have famously highlighted pet photos in their Tinder profiles for years, but Dig takes this to the next level. Dig is a dating app for dog lovers that helps set up canine-friendly dates. Unlike other dating apps, women outnumber men by a significant portion on Dig, which gives the app another interesting wrinkle.

Finding the right pet care marketing agency

Most pet product marketing agencies produce campaigns that are all bark with no bite. Bigeye is different – we’re a team of talented creatives, tech wizards and strategic thinkers, and we all have one thing in common: We love pets, and we’re great at producing high-level pet industry market research.

Come visit our website, and we’ll be sure to show you a few tricks to help you catalyze your next pet product marketing campaign.

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