Don’t count the people you reach. Reach the people that count.

Updated: Aug 7


All too often we get distracted by the numbers and models, (impressions, clicks, views) we forget to consider the importance of a real connection that delivers value to real people. We chase after the wasteful many, rather than connecting with those that are relevant. We fall into the trap of thinking in isolation (creativity vs media, traditional vs digital, consumer vs person). We apply simplified models to complex human behaviour. We get so caught up in our marketing specialisms we completely forget that in the real world these things are not separate. It’s a very easy trap to fall into especially as we need to justify every euro of the marketing budgets.


We need to remember the goal is to communicate with the right person in the right place, at the right time, with the right message to create a value exchange and achieve our desired behaviour.


In order to achieve this goal we need to focus our thinking on marketing in the real world to real people. People don’t filter and reduce options in a linear path to purchase. The traditional linear path to purchase has been transformed as people can now be propelled to immediate purchase or held back by complexity. We need to change our thinking and ways of working to a customer centric approach, crucially, people buying in the real world.


 Now more than ever we have the ability to collect relationships with our customers, at every touch point. We have the tools to understand the potential customers, where they are in their path-to-purchase, to help define messaging and channel activity. It is crucial that we don’t follow our assumptions or rely on cookie cutter marketing plans. We need to ensure our thinking is centered around our customers and potential buyers.


A great way to kick start this process is a collaborative group session to generate and capture the truths about the collective level of knowledge about how people buy within the category and your brand. We need to acknowledge that many implicit assumptions about how people buy often only become real after a lot of strategic and creative work has been developed.


Key questions to ask yourselves:

·     What do we think we know about how people buy?

·     What do we really know about how people buy?

·     What don’t we know and what do we need to know?

·     What behaviour do we want to change and how do we think we can do this?


Our focus should be on developing an approach to understanding how people buy and the challenges and opportunities within that particular path to purchase, and that process itself should be continually evolving.


1.   Map: scrutinise and challenge the assumed path to purchase, taking these assumptions, challenges and hypotheses into real world research to construct the real path to purchase. Your existing data and buyers will help you greatly, if your breaking into a new market ethnographic research can be a great tool.


2.   Construct: use real world understanding to build customer journey paths that unlock the triggers that help potential buyers manage complex choices.


3.   Scale: apply to the brand communications strategy and execution.

 Through this approach there is a great opportunity. Brands that invest their thinking and time can cut through the clutter in new ways, to leapfrog to purchase and action. The power of a customer centric marketing approach is that it provides the mechanisms to understand and react to real world purchase decisions, to connect with your true target audience.

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