Brands can take you on a marvellous journey. They can stir emotions and hold you rapt with emotive films, such as the Coca-Cola ‘America The Beautiful’ ad made for the Superbowl last year. 

May 2015

But the best piece of creative in the world is only the start of the journey. Without thinking long and hard about what you are trying to do and how you are trying to connect with the customer, you may as well pour the ad dollars down the drain. 

We can see this time and again with content. Brands should be after more than a one night stand with customers – and should pursue more than a target of ‘likes’ on social media. Trying to make a piece of content ‘go viral’ is ridiculous - you should be thinking about the end goal of your brand activity. What do you want people to do? Where do you want them to go? 

It’s a digital world and customers expect a fully integrated brand experience, from apps that are easily navigable to extra helpings of content that is attuned to their personal tastes. Brand marketing is actually marketing across every single thing you do. 

In this new world marketers need a business framework that is fit for purpose. This means aligning content and channels with the right audience based on intent – on the signals they are giving you. 

These can break down into: 

  • The large addressable qualified audience with no commercial intent. They may not be thinking of purchasing but you can find them and make sure your brand is top of mind when they are in the market. We can tag these as the ‘See’ audience. 
  • The largest qualified addressable audience that has shown some commercial intent. Let’s tag these as the ‘Think’ audience. 
  • The audience with lots of commercial intent. Call them the ‘Do’ audience. 
  • Existing customers. They have an additional layer of loyalty but do define who falls into this category, for instance maybe they have they purchased your stuff twice (one time might be a mistake or they were forced into it). Think of them as the ‘Care’ audience – they have already done business with you and know your products. 

Using this framework marketers can figure out what relevant content they should deliver for each audience segment’s intent. And each segment does have value – most marketers focus attention on the Care audience but I bet the average conversion rate in that already small portion of your total potential market is 2%. Once you create amazing, relevant content you then have the foundation required to leverage your marketing and decide which channels can help connect each audience (and their intent!) with your glorious content. 

Take a look at a website and try to figure out the right content for the right audience. The best websites have a mix of offerings and cater for the entire spectrum of intent. A car site can offer brochures for download, an app or videos to watch alongside the obligatory ‘book a test drive’ (the ‘Do’ element). If you don’t have a great content strategy it limits your imagination and what you can do with digital. 

Video is important for reaching the younger, light TV-viewing demographic and YouTube is really good for delivering ‘Think/See’ content. All of your future customers exist on YouTube and that’s why you should be interested in developing a thorough strategy for the platform. 

Harking back to Coca-Cola the company is using YouTube consistently – and that’s the key. It has extended and amplified the ‘America the Beautiful’ campaign with interview clips of some of the singers so fans, like me, have more reasons to go back and engage. 

Other brands that are figuring out how to reach the mass audience of addressable unqualified leads and their future customers include AT&T in the US, which created a film that exploded the image of the telephone company as being boring and bland for a target youth audience. The Summerbreak campaign was not a one-off, one-night stand. It is back for a second year and the teenagers involved also have their own mini-clips. 

If you want to transfer this content strategy to social media then you need to be smart and do a lot more than just photograph your product in different situations. 

Brand marketing is not the quest for the next viral video or the world’s greatest social media channel. Innocent is a brand with beautiful connective tissue across its touchpoints and its social media strategy is not to sell smoothies but to figure out how to make you smile every day. Look at the number of shares it has and how its reach is amplified by brand advocates. 

Judge each strategy by what it is most effective at and optimise for the whole customer journey, not the one night stand. 

And finally, here's the absolutely delicious thing... all of this is immensely measurable. But you have to be smarter when you pick your metrics. Picking revenue or conversion rates for your brand campaigns is like judging a fish by it's ability to climb a tree. Use See metrics, Think metrics, Do metrics and Care metrics! 

You can find more information on the See-Think-Care-Do Framework here.