An inside look at creating new business development processes
by Michael J. Pallerino
Depending on where – and how deep –you look, the information is right in front of you. Consumers are exposed to ad messages every 2.7 seconds. They are hit with up to 10,000 brand messages a day and switch between screens at least 21 times an hour. Not frightened yet? Microsoft research shows that the average person’s attention span is now just eight seconds.
This whole idea of an attention span is, I think, a misnomer. People have an infinite attention span if you are entertaining them.
– Jerry Seinfeld
And, as brands find more and more channels to reach their customers, those numbers are only going to grow (or shrink, if we’re talking about attention spans).
To say that how we do business today has changed may be the mother of all understatements. The switch has unequivocally flipped to the buyers’ side, not only giving them all the control, but also forcing brands to review everything and anything they ever knew about getting their message in front of their customers.
It’s a conversation Jeff Rosenblum loves to have. In his book, “Friction: Passion Brands in the Age of Disruption,” which he co-wrote with Jordan Berg, Rosenblum explains how some iconic brands are losing marketshare to up-and-coming companies that have found how to creatively capture – and hold – our collective consciousness.
Great brands, Rosenblum and Berg argue, are no longer built through interruptive advertisements. Today, success is more than just clever messaging or shiny technologies drilled into our subconscious via traditional advertising methods. Today, success comes from refining your business strategy to fit the new narrative.
The playbook involves employing simpler messages that can be communicated in more visual, emotional and engaging ways. “Your customers must go on a lengthy journey with many critical touch points,” says Rosenblum, who also is founding partner of the market research and strategic planning firm, Questus. “Successful companies provide the critical emotional and rational information that prospects need at each step of the journey. The brand story grows and is optimized for each channel. It’s not the same message repeated over and over.”
Brands keep investing in interruptions and the audience keeps running away. Consumers want immersive content and tools that fight friction.
– Jeff Rosenblum, Founding Partner, Questus
If Rosenblum could emphasize the criticalness of one strategic element from this playbook, it would be empowerment. When brands empower prospects to make smarter purchases, and empower customers to get more value out of the products they purchase, it creates meaningful conversations. “People don’t simply want to be interrupted with slick ad campaigns,” he says. “They want brands to help them remove friction and solve problems. That’s what leads to engagement and conversations.”
Winning on this new playing field means your consumers are interacting with every touch point along the way, producing behavioral data that enables brands to optimize their sales and marketing efforts. They do this by understanding the psychographic profile of each prospect and identifying their unmet needs.
“It’s all about providing value through their journey,” Rosenblum says.
When done correctly, the sales and marketing landscape is completely integrated. Unfortunately, as Rosenblum and Berg discovered, few companies are doing this successfully today. Hamstrung by legacy marketing models, too many sales and marketing departments sit in silos, causing valuable data and information to go unshared.
“When each step of your customers’ journey is not integrated or optimized, it creates a precarious situation that opens the door for disruptive companies to leverage new, integrated strategies,” Rosenblum says.
So, How do you Fight the Fight?
The answers can be found in the playbook of brands doing it right. Patagonia, for example, fights friction by defending the environment. It builds immersive experiences – website, documentaries, retail events – that educate its audience about how to take small actions that can make a big difference. Yeti is another example. The highly innovative cooler and accessory manufacturer has created a series of seven- to 10-minute inspirational videos celebrating the lengths that people push themselves in the great outdoors.
“Successful brands are simply taking a portion of their paid media budget and applying it to owned and earned media,” Rosenblum says. “Rather than buying ads, they’re building content and tools that empower the audience. Great brands are built, not bought. Advertising still provides a critical role in the process, but most brands are asking it to do too much. First, brands need to build great experiences. Once they do that successfully, they’ll still have money for traditional marketing to build awareness and traffic.”
The Answer is in the (Small) Data
Big data. There aren’t many marketing conversations happening today without that term working itself into the mix. But what about small data? Whereas big data is all about seeking correlation, small data is about seeking causation. Why did something happen?
As a modern day Sherlock Holmes, as he has been called, Martin Lindstrom often is hired by the world’s leading brands to find out what makes their customers tick. For his most recent book, “Small Data: The Tiny Clues That Uncover Huge Trends,” the best-selling author spent up to 300 nights a year in strangers’ homes carefully observing every little detail of their hidden desires to uncover the next multimillion-dollar product.
The truth, as Lindstrom freely admits, is that brands need to know the hypothesis before beginning the search for correlations. As the business landscape continues to shift, big and small data are becoming equally as important in the race to uncover consumer desires.
The reality is that we’ve migrated our social interactions online, and thus rarely meet people in our day-to-day life. This is increasingly creating an out of balance in our lives, and thus, a gap for a new brand
– Martin Lindstrom, Author, Small Data
For example, just recently, a major American bank’s big data research concluded that its churn (people leaving the bank with their bank accounts) was due to high fees and interest rates. Just before adjusting their rates, an internal research team spent time with their customers to try and identify the small data.
To its surprise, the research team found that a large portion of its customers was leaving in the middle of, or just after, a divorce. They either opened separate bank accounts or moved to another bank. Spending some time with these couples to help navigate this unfortunate situation not only helped retain fleeing customers, but also saved the bank millions of dollars in interest rates and fees.
“What you have to remember is that as robots and technology take over, we humans will become and will have to become smarter,” Lindstrom says. “Small data is just as important as big data, because 85 percent of what we do is irrational – like pressing harder on your remote when you think the batteries are flat. Big data struggles to understand that human dimension. It’s hard to evaluate love using a spreadsheet. This is where small data comes into play. By first understanding the human dimension – we’re able to understand the reason why we behave a certain way. Big data then can help to verify this observation – creating a complete picture.”
Lindstrom says that by embracing the importance of small data, brands can refine their business strategies. Everything a brand can pick up via emotional data – the chemistry, aspirations, desires and out of balances – will help form the foundation for success.
“The reality is that we’ve migrated our social interactions online, and thus rarely meet people in our day-to-day life,” Lindstrom says. “This is increasingly creating an out of balance in our lives, and thus, a gap for a new brand or need. Most consumers are still not aware of this. They somehow feel they’re missing something, that tactical interaction. That trend – more than anything – will turn into something major very soon.”
It all circles back to buyers having all the power. “This has happened because brands are completely transparent,” Rosenblum says. “Thanks to the infinite amount of information available through search, social and mobile technology, consumers can see through exaggerated brand messages and ignore clever jingles. Brands keep investing in interruptions and the audience keeps running away. Consumers want immersive content and tools that fight friction. They have the power to ignore traditional messages. Brands have to get that back.”