Last week, I was having dinner with my friend Aldo. Aldo is normally a calm, reserved type of person, but that day he was very excited about a gadget (and the whole digital ecosystem that went with it) that he had recently seen advertised. He was convinced it was the perfect solution to his exercise problems.
Right before he was about to go out and purchase the product, we ran into our friend Reza. This was a turning point for Aldo, because Reza had used the product and strongly advised Aldo not to get it. Reza told him he’d had several bad experiences with ecosystem integration and even worse experiences with customer service from that brand; not to mention the bad service he got at the store when asking for assistance.
When a person has a good experience, they usually tell a friend about it; when they have a bad experience, they tell all their friends about it, exponentially increasing bad word of mouth for the brand. That’s why focusing only on the communications part of your brand experience is like swimming upstream in fancy swimwear: you look good, but there are other points of the consumer journey that may be working against you, and you’re wasting a lot of time and money to get to where you should be.
In fact, like most people in the world, Indonesians also have a growing dislike of ads (as Kantar Millward Brown’s 2017 AdReaction study shows), so creating advertising that is effective has become even more challenging. The consumer journey has become fragmented across different touchpoints, and consumers demand consistency and delight at every one. In some cases, the touchpoints are intentionally designed, but marketers focus too much on communications and neglect the other touchpoints, like customer service or actual product usage, where an experience “just happens.”
Go beyond advertising
It’s time that marketers start thinking more about purposely designing coherent experiences for people that go beyond advertising, and delight people during each step of their journey with the brand.
Traditional marketing has mainly been about generalizing data and creating something that works across the board, which is a real challenge today, as no two people have the same experience with a brand. All customers connect with different touchpoints during different stages of their journey
This means we cannot design for segments; we must design for people. We should look at the experiences that individuals are currently having with brands, identify their pain points, and create solutions for those. These solutions should then be extrapolated to fit a larger audience, creating truly innovative experiences instead of designing mediocre ones for the masses.
Your efforts should start with gaining a better understanding of what people are like and what they need.
Walk the walk. Meet and greet.
Far too often I have seen marketing teams rely too much on research reports without actually meeting the people they are selling to.
To truly understand people, you need to empathize with them, and that can only be done by walking a mile in their shoes. Get close to people through design research—which is mostly qualitative in nature—and build empathy for their situation. How are they purchasing the product? Understand what their considerations are, but also what the context is in which they live and purchase your brand. What are the questions they have regarding your brand or the category? Which current touchpoints delight them? Which deter them? This is often covered in traditional market research, but the key difference is that in this case, the designers (clients, creatives, account directors and strategists) are deeply involved in execution of the research, allowing them to spot opportunities for innovation based on their internalization of people’s desires and motivations.
The results should be mapped against the customer journey, which allows marketers to design business processes, communications and other services that align with consumer needs, and design value for people at each interaction they have with your brand.
So, before you go out and start thinking about your next advertising campaign, give some thought to going beyond advertising, and truly deliver amazing experiences and meaningful innovations that can drive brand success and accelerate value growth.
And think of Aldo, who changed his mind about the gadget and hasn’t mentioned it since.