By Shannon Farrelly, Internet Advertising and Marketing Strategist
We’ve all heard the speculation that marketing and advertising as we know it is obsolete. And we all agree on the obvious—technology has changed the rules forever. But have consumers really abandoned advertising?
The answer is no. In fact, consumers are more receptive to your brand message than ever, but only if it is relevant and delivered at their choice of time and place.
New Rules for the New Media Era
Historically, consumers were able to subconsciously switch between the six o’clock news and their favorite sitcom while passively viewing advertising messages. This model made information and entertainment the two most powerful advertising channels. Today consumers consciously enter into various ‘mindsets’ that drive their choices, actions and receptivity to marketing messages.
There a two key drivers behind this shift from passive to active consumer interaction with media:
1. Consumer Savvy—Recent consumer behavioral studies clearly show that we have all become experts at ignoring and rejecting marketing messages, regardless of our generation. If you give it some thought, you’re likely able to instantly recognize messages that are irrelevant or ill-timed, and your reaction can range from feeling annoyed to downright angry with the intrusion. Strategic targeting of your brand message has never been a more critical component to successful advertising and marketing. The right message at the wrong time can backfire and actually place your brand in jeopardy.
2. New Media—The primary force driving this dramatic change is the advent of technologies that keep us informed, involved and connected—anywhere and in an instant. New media is now cross-generationally accepted and inexorably weaved into the fabric of our daily lives. When engaging media, consumers no longer think in terms of ‘experiencing’, but rather in terms of what they want to accomplish or obtain from their media experience. Whether they’re turning on the television, computer or opening a newspaper, consumers do so with a specific purpose, goal or need in mind.
The trick to reaching savvy target consumers without making them feel pushed or invaded is to stop strategizing around the media channel (television, Internet, print or radio) and start focusing on the mindsets that consumers enter when they experience or interact with your advertising messages. Consumers aren’t tuning advertising out; they want advertisers to tune them in.
The number of consumer mindsets might seem endless, but the following is a description of some of the most relevant modes:
Consumers in the ENTERTAIN ME mindset are on a mission to be amused. This mindset is an “oldie but goodie” and has been well-served by the traditional media. But television is no longer the only act in town. Entertainment can be had virtually anywhere and on demand through computers, cell phones and PDAs. For instance, online gaming feels like entertainment to the gamer, but can simultaneously be harnessed as a powerful marketing tool by an advertiser.
Information-seekers are looking for knowledge to help them make decisions. Due to the convenience and accessibility of new media, more and more consumers are seeking information online as opposed to newspapers and catalogs.
CONNECT WITH ME
Consumers in the CONNECT WITH ME mindset are building relationships. There are a myriad of new media tools available to help us meet people or stay in touch with family and friends. E-mail remains a popular choice for the “over 30” crowd, but social-networking sites are exploding, especially among Gen Y. Text messaging and online gaming also allow them to experience continuous and instantaneous connections.
SHARE WITH ME
Similar to CONNECT WITH ME, consumers in the SHARE WITH ME mindset want to create common ground. Millions of people log on to video- and image-sharing sites each day to swap their personal experiences and create their own content
LISTEN TO ME
When in the LISTEN TO ME mindset, consumers are seeking to express their individual point of view. It’s cheaper and easier than ever to reach people with a message by posting a blog, vlog or podcast.
Be One with the Consumer
When you successfully align the advertising and marketing of your brand with consumer mindsets, your brand becomes an integral part of the consumer experience. If it’s relevant and well-placed, consumers will seek out your brand messages and content. Start by understanding your target consumers’ desires, then craft messages and targeted tools that deliver the desired experience. If your consumers want entertainment—entertain them. If they’re seeking knowledge—inform them. If they feel like sharing, discovering or expressing themselves, it’s up to marketers to help facilitate that need. Connecting with your targeted consumer also means that your advertising and marketing must evolve beyond the traditional campaign model into a more meaningful, long-term relationship, or “connection” that you actively sustain.
Your Marketing Plan—Reinvented
To illustrate how Mindset Marketing works, imagine the following hypothetical scenario:
Your company has developed a new suite of products and services for the Gen Y demographic. Your business is located in a community with a University or large student/Gen Y population. Research shows that Gen Y is highly motivated by causes; environmental protection is at the top of that list. Your marketing plan consists of five steps:
1. GET INVOLVED—Sponsor a well-publicized community environmental rally. Your sponsorship includes a large. visible sign at the event–this will instantly communicate your company’s mutual concern for the environment. Seek out channels to economically donate employee time or company dollars to local or national environmental causes.
2. CONNECT—Translate your concern and involvement into an online/print advertising campaign. Create ‘click through’ web ads and post them on popular Gen Y sites. When clicked, the targeted consumer is routed to a new micro website, designed to promote your line of products and services. This micro-site ties into your company site, but is designed to specifically appeal to Gen Y and includes interactivity, gaming and a “green” look and feel. Simultaneously launch an online PR campaign.
3. INFORM—Upload up-to-date information to the micro-site addressing environmental issues as well as information about your company and your new suite of products. Include links to other helpful resources.
4. LISTEN—Create and promote an online contest that Gen Y consumers can enter on your new micro-site. Consumers are encouraged to submit personal stories describing how their work or the work of a friend helped make strides for the environmental movement. Visitors to the site can vote for their favorite story. The winner is awarded a sum of money that they can donate to their favorite environmental cause. Or perhaps the winner wins an eco-friendly scooter. Be creative and innovative.
5. SHARE—Evolve your campaign from ‘selling’ to a sustained relationship with the consumer by finding new ways to contribute to the cause and share your involvement with the targeted demographic. Create incentives for consumers to share information about your products and services online with an instant text messaging tool and tangible referral reward. Edit and post video online showing your employees donating time for the cause.
For more information on the art of mindset marketing, contact Shannon Farrelly at 603.427.2800 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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