customer journey

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Innovation in product and service marketing has redistributed wealth for ages. Yet one area where innovation has completely stagnated is messaging. The ads and sales copy developed in the 1880s by Lord and Thomas are the same as today.  Words like “sale, quality, buy, and new” were commonly used then and now.

Why can’t we innovate the message? Sure, we can sing it, animate it, give it life with video. And tomorrow we’ll add more dimension and experiential verve with virtual reality.  But the real innovation in messaging will not be in copy, art or delivery but in how we craft behavioral cognition.  Rather than tell someone what to do, we need to help them conclude they want to do it. Make if feel more like their choice. Facilitate and stimulate the behavior.

The old AIDA principle of selling: awareness, interest, desire and action is still a valid construct. Yet most messaging today concerns itself only with the last step action.  Innovations like Twitch Point Planning and other customer journey approaches account for all steps to a sale. Let’s court our consumers appropriately.

Peace.

 

 

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Experience is hot marketing word these days. It is rooted me thinks in user experience (UX), which started in the early days of the web when sites were hard to navigate and not intuitive. Ad and digital agencies caught on to experience a few years later as a way to create new buildables (content) and garner planning fees It didn’t hurt that “customer journey” and “communications planning” were smart ideas to begin with.

Product experience, some will have you believe, starts with communications and ends with the after-sale. The experience is everything in between. A lot of product experience buildables – designed to follow the AIDA principle: Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action — are online and in-store. But product gesture is different.

Product gesture is not so much about the product journey and surround as it is the “consuming experience.” (See my last blog post.) A product gesture is the olfactory response that occurs when you drive by a Burger King. It’s why “flame broiled” is such a powerful brand asset of BK. For Coke, whose long standing brand idea is refreshment, the moment when your head snaps back after a full swig of a newly opened Coke is induced by the product gesture. Google’s product gesture occurs during search when your problem is solved, you smile and twitch to act.

Every product has a gesture. Man-made gestures like the Stella Artois pour and glass are distant seconds, but they are gestures nonetheless.

Find your product gesture and you will find marketing and branding success.

What is your product gesture?

 

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Inward Bound

Faris Yakob (you own me a beer, Faris) is a strategy genius. Just a real shmarty pants. For all the big words he uses, and they are plenty, his ideas are quite simple and rich. Faris is a wonderful communicator, as well. He is closely associated with his oft-used phrase “Talent Imitates, Genius Steals.” Here’s a steal, or as he might put it, a recombinant idea, purloined from David Brook’s Op-Ed piece this past weekend in the NYT. (It comes from David’s new book The Road To Character.) In the article he identifies a number of way to improve one’s character. I won’t do it justice so read the piece, but what impressed me most was Mr. Brook’s call for people to see the world not through the gravity of their own lives, wants and needs, but through others.

This notion is wonderfully instructive for brand planners. I was once spanked in anthropology class for suggesting cultural anthropologists should do more than observe, record and be passive. The pimp hand that hit me related that by being more than a passive observer I’d be insinuating myself into the culture, changing it ever so much.

Brand planners need to divorce themselves from the consumer. Go all tofu on the buying journey, the “if then” decisions, the psyche of the purchasers and influencers.

It’s not easy. But it’s necessary. Inward not outward is David Brook’s advice. And mine too, for brand planning. Peace.  

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At What’s The Idea? a brand brief costs $17,500. List price. The people willing to spend that type of money know it’s s steal. Having an “organizing principle for product, experience and messaging” makes every act of marketing easier. Compare $17,500 to the cost of a newspaper ad, website take-over, or a radio flight. It’s peanuts. Sadly, the word brief, in advertising and marketing has been reduced to an instructive piece of paper telling creative people what not to do. Ish.  They are often poorly written, almost all interchangeable, and not given much heed. But brand briefs – they are different story.

For a robust brand brief I need weeks. A month actually. A good brand brief requires interviews, fieldwork, research and brain steep. If we’re talking about a brand brief for a billion dollar company there may be lots of qualitative and quantitative testing as well. Up goes the price. And money well spent.

Done well, a brand brief informs all areas of business. If CRM is marketing template, the brand brief is its architecture. If PR is a communication template, a brand brief is its measure of success. If customer journey is a template, the brand brief is the bread crumb trail.

If you are in the business of selling things, raise your hand. If you don’t have a brand brief you are a simple fisherman.

For examples of brand briefs, showing claim and proof (brand tangibles), please write me at Steve at whatstheidea.

Peace.

 

 

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Sometimes brand planners do not have the budget, time, or resources required to do a complete job learning and understanding their targets. Hey, welcome to the real world. The last thing a good planner does is impose his or her perceptions on the assignment. Perceptions soiled by previous assignments, individual experiences with a product, and pop cultural observations. Just as a good anthropologist knows not to insinuate him/herself into the fieldwork and only observe, brand planners should acknowledge they don’t know everything and attempt to “out-of-body” whatever they can. Here’s a tip: 

acting class

To help gain an deeper understanding of the target, identify a prototypical target persona, get into character and interview yourself. Of course it’s play-acting — and the DILO (day in the life of) you use to understand the target is made up — but as a creative exercise it is much better than the alternative.  Write out the questions in advance, put on your creative acting hat, dream daily activities (perhaps even do them), and observe signs, rituals and behaviors the target will experience. If not actually doing the behaviors in-situ, play act and interview yourself in a dark room. 

The key is to really leave yourself and your belief system at the door. Open your mind. Note activity function and structure. Sounds weird, I know, but it’s doable and a wonderful learning opportunity. Learn on, plan one. Peace.

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Do you know your product’s top 5 twitch points? You should.  Customer journey is a new age marketing tool used by comms planners to find better ways to intersect with and influence customers. The journey maps out awareness, activities, research, purchase and out-of-box experience. (Chart courtesy of Frog Design.) Some use the old school taxon AIDA (awareness, interest, desire and action), a dumbed down version.  It’s truly good stuff and a lot more valuable than a simple DILO (day in the life of) media planning approach, but if you follow the Frog Design rigor (chart) you may also end up a little dizzy.customer journey

Twitch Points are moments when a person twitches way from one media or device in favor of another in search of clarification. Kindle to Google Earth. Newspaper to Wikipedia. Car dealership to JD Power. Best Buy to Amazon. Car radio to Shazam.

Twitch Point Planning is simpler than the above Frog Design learning scheme. Less complex. Understanding, mapping and manipulating customers closer to a sale is its goal. It needn’t be overthought.  Don’t get me wrong, it needs to be thought, just not overthought. If you find your top 5 twitch points, your five most commerce producing twitches, you don’t need a road map, journey, or KPIs.  You need a good accountant…to count da monies.

Peace be upon you.

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