S1:E6 – How to meet your customers in their decision-making moment

Hello folks, welcome back to the Marketing Mindset Club.

Here we are in episode 6 of the first season and I’ve been so happy to read your messages and reviews. Its really makes me smile to know I’m helping you out and giving you some positive food for thought in your marketing.

If you’re new to the club, welcome in. Your spot is right here... grab a cuppa and settle in. I’m all about supporting you as a marketer to grow your business. Whether you’re working on your own business and wearing every hat under the sun from accountant to warehouse manager, or you’re working for an established business that needs to adapt following COVID-19. I’m here for you.

There’s an especially big welcome from me to you if you just graduated from uni. Woohooo! So many congratulations. I hope you’re super chuffed with your results and you deserve to be after all that hard work. But how on earth are you going to get your first job in this market? Well my friends, it’s all about getting the edge, and I hope this podcast will help. Together we can get you there.

If you’re new to the show, this is how it’s gonna go. Each episode is split into three bits:

  • The digital news bit and what matters about the top stories

  • The learning bit where I’ll deep dive on a tool, technique or strategy you can use

  • And the real-life lessons bit

So let’s get going.

The digital news bit

In the news this week, there seems to be a feeling of nostalgia taking over some brands and their ads. Likely trying to capture the mood of the nation as we breathe a collective sigh of relief that lockdown is basically over (whether or not you think the timing is right is a whole other discussion). The pubs are reopening and holidays are happening again. TUI has launched a new campaign to reassure holidaymakers and that is focussed on looking forward. It’s designed to emote memories of specific moments - the first dip in the pool, someone else doing the cooking and so on. All set in these glorious backdrops with the most beautiful light and surroundings. It’s certainly very emotive and will probably be really successful for them as most of the UK looks for an antidote to lockdown cabin fever.

Carlsberg chose a similar theme to welcome pub-goers back. They’ve recently been undergoing a re-invention and did a flip on their previous strapline ‘Probably the best beer in the world’. You may remember seeing this last year, they did a reposition with what they described as a ‘head to hop’ rethink. This has worked out well for them and so this latest campaign is trying to move them even closer to their tribe by showing how well they understand the nation’s craving for a pint in a pub.

I think this approach is interesting because they are both effectively tapping into the emotional state of the nation and that’s a really powerful way to influence decision-making. So if you’re thinking about messaging right now, think about how you can tap into that sense of nostalgia and getting life back to having all the good things we enjoy and love. But a word of caution, this probably won’t work for every brand. There are some parts of our daily lives that I’m sure won’t be back to normal for some time, so don’t create false hope when the reality is very different.

For instance, Marketing Week reported that shoppers are only slowly feeling more comfortable with returning to shops. Just under a third still say they will still avoid shopping in person. Just over half of shoppers surveyed felt shops weren’t doing enough to protect the public from coronavirus. So, while there may be a nostalgia to get back to shopping in person, that’s not a particularly widely held strength of feeling for this just yet. If I were a retailer, I’d still be focussing on fulfilment and customer service from an operational perspective and things like the breadth of range, speed of delivery and the ability to shop local, but online (if that’s appropriate).

There’s still a significant job to do to capture the purchase though. A recent report stated that 35% of all online transactions during lockdown were made on Amazon. Now, this report was gated, so I haven’t seen the whole thing but I think that statement refers to UK purchases. They also state that the intention to purchase from Amazon would decline to 21% of the audience after lockdown suggesting that there is a customer base out there looking for an alternative retail experience. Obviously there’s no getting away from Amazon’s coverage, and I can’t argue against having your products on there unless there’s a very strong brand value reason not to. But if you’re a small business, you could focus your energy on getting involved in the ‘Shop Local’ movement. There are over 36M posts on that hashtag on Instagram alone, plus multiple local accounts boosting shops in specific geographic areas. A YouGov poll showed that 80% of those who shopped locally will continue to do so after lockdown is over, so make the most of it!

So here’s something interesting. A company called Pulsar, an audience intelligence company, have developed something called the Public Emotions Framework. They say it tracks fluctuations in public sentiment across the UK and US. It was originally created for their advertising clients in both countries.

Now I’m still not clear on how this actually works but I think how they did it was to create a set of keyword indicators along four emotional scales:

  • Joy – Sadness

  • Acceptance – Fatigue

  • Anger – Fear

  • Caution – Admiration

They then observed Twitter conversations and mapped frequency of those keywords to give a sentiment indicator. Sounds super interesting, but why am I am telling you this since we can’t access the live platform? Well, the key outcome that I spotted from the observations written about the data was the increasing conversation around the need for community. We saw at the beginning of lockdown the mass mobilisation of those who found themselves furloughed from their employer to volunteer in the NHS, deliver groceries for neighbours and run errands for those who were shielding. There’s a theme in this data that suggests our new normal could include a more selfless collective. The community once again became essential for our collective existence, and that’s why I think we’ve seen messaging around the ‘we’re all in this together’ theme.

So, how can you make the most of this as brand? Not to capitalise from it, but instead to deliver value? You have an opportunity to make your mark as a business that cares about the local community, values your customers and will always give back. Could you donate your time, excess stock or skills to support your community? If you do it for the right reasons, you will reap the rewards and so will those around you.

The learning bit

Onto the learning bit, and today I want to explore the customer decision journey model created by McKinsey. I think this is so relevant right now because it gives you a framework upon which to base your marketing strategy for different touchpoints. We discussed the marketing flywheel in Episode three of this season, which uses the concept of a cyclical customer journey and attracting customers in wherever they are in their decision-making. The customer decision journey model is similar to the Hubspot marketing flywheel, but it isn’t limited to just inbound marketing. You can apply it to the whole marketing spectrum.

Traditionally, marketers have thought of the customer journey as a linear process. It’s been a funnel that filters prospects from awareness through engagement, consideration, purchase and loyalty through a series of engagement touchpoints. But that’s no longer an effective way to plan your marketing communications because it’s not reflective of the plethora of digital channels now available to your customers. McKinsey also reckons the changed approach is needed as customers become more discerning and savvy about their purchases, but I’m not sure there’s any evidence presented in their thinking to support that. There is certainly more information through a great many more channels available to us than ever before, plus the shift from one-way to two-way communications with brands. So perhaps it’s to do with opportunity rather than a change in behaviour.

So, the research led the McKinsey team to define this model as a way of directing maximum spend and messaging to the moments of greatest influence. It comes back to the principle of reaching the right people at the right time with the right message.

The McKinsey team formed the model into four phases that are cyclical.

  • initial consideration;

  • active evaluation, or the process of researching potential purchases;

  • closure, when consumers buy brands;

  • and postpurchase, when consumers experience them

The model is based on a trigger moment that starts the thought process for a customer to look for a solution to a problem. They need to buy a product or service to meet a need. Until that point, any brand messaging or product promotion is likely to be wasted in terms of response because there is no need for that person to consider your offer. But that trigger point changes all that. Those accumulated impressions help form the initial consideration set of the products perceived to meet the requirement. According to their research, brands that are in that initial consideration set are up to three times more likely to get the purchase.

But all is not lost for brands that aren’t in that set. They can ‘interrupt’ the active evaluation phase if their messaging cuts through. It means that if you’re a brand that traditionally has good market awareness - such as a mainstream automotive brand, you can no longer take it for granted that you’re in that initial consideration set. You could end up being excluded from active evaluation if you’re not being relevant or your messaging doesn’t capture attention.

What’s interesting about the active evaluation phase, is that in the research, two-thirds of the touchpoints include consumer-sought information like reviews, word of mouth recommendations, previous experience etc and only a third were brand-created or pushed marketing. I think we’ve known for some time that reviews and recommendations are extremely powerful, but I wasn’t really aware of the extent of that in terms of the volume of those consumed in active evaluation.

When a consumer reaches the point of closure, the game is on to gain their loyalty. That all-important repeat business. Their experience here shapes their decision-making when the cycle begins again. There are active and passive customers - split between those who actively recommend a brand or product, vs those who are open to competition messaging and may switch their loyalty the next time around.

So, what can we learn from this model?

  • The first thing is to move away from thinking your customer journey is linear. It’s not. It’s a continuous cycle of ignoring or consuming your messaging. The only way to affect the impact here is by continuously testing that with your target audience. Which brings me onto point number 2.

  • Know your audience. Do surveys, research, polls, interviews - whatever you can to gather insights about your target audience. Understand what made your customers buy from you in the first place, and engage the loyal advocates as they’ll love to be involved and it’ll strengthen their relationship with your brand.

  • Accept that there is very little you can do to create a trigger moment that will change whether or not a potential customer needs your product or service. Your messaging may help persuade them to thinking about why they might need it, but until they know for themselves that they have a need or are trying to solve a problem, that customer is not yet a prospect.

  • Manage your mentions and coverage. If two-thirds of active evaluation touchpoints are covered in consumer-searched information, you need to be on it when comes to managing reviews, comments and incoming engagements from customers. This means a social media management policy that empowers staff working on those channels to be helpful and able to resolve any issues swiftly is absolutely crucial.

  • Give prospects and customer useful content. If you go back over episode 4 in season 1, we talk about the hero, hub and help content planning model. It’s a great way to plan moments of content that engage users at each stage of their decision-making. Creating value and being useful should always be the underlying goal.

The real-life lessons bit

So, onto the real-life lessons bit. And today, this section isn’t so much about marketing itself, it’s about managing upwards and communicating with senior stakeholders.

Having a marketing mindset means you’re all about creating and communicating value. And that applies in all areas of your work. So if you have senior stakeholders you report into, whether or not they are your boss, the board, or the senior team in your client’s business - you will probably at some point have to tell them what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and the results you’ve achieved.

My experience has taught me these simple, albeit astoundingly obvious principles. Yet, as obvious as they, until you apply them it’s hard to see how you ever worked without them.

Firstly, from the great master himself Aristotle - ‘tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them and then tell them what you’ve told them’. Once I structured my presentations in this way, it completely changed how I was able to engage with the top bods. This works because you’re making what you want to present easy to understand by providing context - which is the why. They probably can’t remember what they signed up to, what you’ve been working on and even sometimes, why they should care. But by setting up your presentation in this way, you cover all those questions and concerns and make them more open to receiving your message. Some people disagree with this principle because they feel as though it can patronise the audience and disengage them so you’ll have to see for yourself if it’s helpful or not. I’ve found it essential in getting buy-in from those I’m trying to convince.

Secondly, the short pnemonic KISS - keep it simple sunshine or keep it simple stupid. Which variation you’ve heard probably depends on the person who taught it you! You may have your head in all the metrics and understand intimately the nuanced differences between some of the platform measures you’re going to report on. But I can almost guarantee that some or most of the seniors you’re presenting to will not. Sometimes they’ll ask for clarification, but sometimes they won’t and whichever outcome occurs it means your message hasn’t landed in the way you wanted it to. So make it super simple to understand, especially when you’re reporting figures.

And remember the context of your audience. If they are board level or C-suite, they probably have their head in the top-level business performance figures every day so they will be trying to rationalise the numbers you’re presenting with the knowledge they already have. So try and link back your narrative and metrics to bottom-line impacts such as average order value, lifetime customer value, leads generated, this will add so much credibility to your argument.

And thirdly - be ready to answer those awkward questions. Nothing is ever 100% positive, and there is never 100% good news. In fact, sometimes the news is only 10% positive. So don’t skirt over that, use it to your credit to deliver learning insights and recommendations for the next set of marketing activities. It’ll do wonders for your credibility to be able to answer why on the spot when a senior stakeholder notices a downward trend or an unexpected drop in return on investment. Obviously this takes time and investigation to achieve so it goes without saying that you shouldn’t leave the preparation of senior management presentations to the last minute.

And that’s all I have for you this week. Thank you so much for being part of the Marketing Mindset Club. I’m so glad you tuned in! Thank you to everyone who has left a review so far, I can’t tell you how appreciated you are and how thankful I am for your support.

If you haven’t yet subscribed or left a review, please consider doing so if you’re getting value from the show - it really helps me out in my goal to grow this club. I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments and questions so head over to Instagram @MarketingMindsetClub and I’ll see you next time.

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