Excited to see that our friends over at Altimeter have begun to dig deep into the notion of the Dynamic Customer Journey. At Digital Influence Group (DIG), we’re believers in the notion that engaging consumers meaningfully as a brand or company starts with embracing this dynamic customer journey, digging in to understand it, and setting your programs up to empower individuals and be powered by their actions.
Digitally enabled consumers are becoming increasingly important to address as individuals – the concept of a “focus group of one,” often a phrase used to dismiss the opinions of a single member of a brand’s target, now has real meaning. Lucky for us, every consumer is in a different stage of need, and the individual relationships that consumers have with brands are just that – individual – which makes trying to address the dynamic customer journey through classic marketing insights challenging, at best. These “focus groups of one” also have opinions that wield more power than ever before, as any experience or opinion can spread through social platforms faster than the common cold through a day care.
So it’s a tricky knot. But from our perspective, the key to untying this particular knot is to start simply. Establish a real relationship with your target. Develop some level of understanding of the journey. Think creatively about how owned social platforms, content and internal experts play a role in your marketing mix. You know – the good stuff. Of course, that’s pretty simple – so there’s more. Here are four key principles that guide us when building programs for our clients to engage a target audience and help influence that dynamic journey.
It’s Not About You
Every brand and every company has an agenda; that’s why they market things. And most will say they put their customers first. But few are truly embracing their target’s agenda as a #1 priority in the digital space. Engaging in this dynamic journey requires that your brand respects and integrates itself into that journey instead of hijacking it. So dive deep into all available data – conversations, behaviors, attitudes – and develop the clearest possible picture of your target’s agenda to help you find places to seamlessly integrate into it instead of trying to pull them directly into yours.
Focus on Passion Points
Any consumer’s journey around engaging with a brand will be fueled by their needs, and the passion that drives decision making. For our Glidden Paint clients, that has meant recognizing that the passion consumers have for redecorating and re-envisioning living spaces far outweighs their passion for the paint itself. Our clients at Nerf are lucky that their targets’ personal passion is the product – Nerf blasters. For IBM, the passion of their mid-market IT target is running their businesses, and getting IBM experts to weigh in on their business challenges helped feed those passions and create a relationship between IBM and their target audience. Engaging around these passion points as a priority ensures that you are integrating into the most important stops along the dynamic customer journey, regardless of where, how and in what order that stop is coming.
Identifying the agenda and prioritizing passion points are key steps, but in order to really get engaged, you need to get right into the mix. At DIG, we are firm believers in helping our clients be “generous brands.” To us, that means helping your audience do what they want to do. Enable their agenda, fuel their passions and then you’ll become a welcomed addition to their journey. Being generous as a brand is all about taking content, tools, expertise – created, curated or existing – and giving it freely to your target consumers. And I say interrupt, because if you have something of value – an article, a custom tool, or a group of experts offering advice – then you need to get in there! Jump into those passionate conversations, find those places where your target finds inspiration and contribute. If you are being a truly generous brand, then you create deeper connection points that can allow you to influence the customer journey and learn more about your audience along the way.
So this is a perilously general and simple concept, but this dynamic customer journey takes users everywhere and that’s where you need to be. Create your digital marketing experiences with an eye toward providing valuable tools, experts and content for any relevant places along the dynamic customer journey. Activate pieces on the social channels relevant to your target audience’s agenda – whether it’s using Facebook or Twitter, bringing your experts into a LinkedIn group, or using your digital media budget to distribute key pieces of your program into targeted content areas instead of just trying to drive users somewhere through display ads. Partner with bloggers and influencers to help bring programs to life through their content and expertise. Create partnerships with media companies that showcase your commitment to being generous by bringing your content and experts together in service of the consumer. Let everything be shareable and embeddable.
As we conclude here, I realize in some respects, this all could sound like a puzzle – “this is incredibly complex, so make it simple; you need to create relationships with individuals even though you can’t, and do so at scale, and then you should give them all what they want everywhere they are.” Right-o! But no matter how knotty the challenge, the solutions and principles we work by have to be inherently simple, and we’ve seen success here at DIG through that lens. We believe passionately that if you focus on helping your target do what they are trying to do, and prioritize fueling their passions and influencing their journey by injecting assets that add value to their experience (where they are already active), you are off to a good start. Activate that kind of program creatively through digital and social media, and it will be easier for your brand to be more “everywhere” than you could’ve imagined, and to help influence that dynamic customer journey more than you ever thought you could.