We now exist in an omnichannel world, where audiences live, breathe, and consume products and services across multiple channels, switching between them seamlessly with a reasonable expectation of a similar experience on each. . The brands that deliver valuable storytelling across their customers’ preferred channels are the brands that market effectively.
The question is, how do we succeed and how do we measure it?
In my experience as Founder and CEO of The 6AM Agency, benchmarking marketing and communications strategies against a measure of “effectiveness” is the key to business success. We call this Effective Voice Quality (EQOV). Effective communication today must be interesting, valuable to the consumer, and designed intelligently enough to cut through the hyper-connected, multi-channel noise the consumer navigates.
Algorithms are a new set of audiences
EQOV must be able to withstand the stealth of algorithms to break through and surface at the top of the day’s news. We see algorithms as an audience in their own right, with which brands compete for attention.
Standing out and getting noticed is necessary, but it’s only the first step. EQOV should also stimulate a person to feel something so that they have an affinity with your brand, its offer and its objective. This affinity must develop quickly through multiple connections and, above all, at this critical moment of brand consideration. When a consumer is considering buying a product or service, they need to be aware of your value proposition, but that’s not enough. They should also have an open mindset or a sense of connection to your brand. This affinity leads to a purchase decision.
Plan and execute EQOV requirements
How do we plan and execute these critical requirements of effective voice quality? There is no single answer, but here are some insights we find helpful:
- Examine your customer journeys over time to understand where they show up, at what time, and on what channel. No need to shout from the rooftops for a brand that is not in the suburbs where the heart of the clientele is.
- Find the deliverability intersection. What can the brand really offer?
- Make the message relevant. What message can the brand authentically claim? Is the positioning a natural fit for the brand, or is it so far removed that it becomes irrelevant to the core brand proposition?
- Choose a distinctive positioning for the brand. What differentiates it from its competitors?
Understand every step of the customer journey
Success in marketing depends on a solid understanding at every stage of the customer journey: what wants (core drivers) and obstacles (core barriers) shape their behavior?
The answers to these questions are essential:
- Who are your brand’s customers?
- Where do your brand’s customers play? Where is their attention directed?
- What do your customers think and feel? What is their goal at each relevant stage of their journey?
- How do different types of content affect customers at different touchpoints in their journey?
These responses provide a practical conceptual framework for defining creative challenges in our communications. Given who they are, what they want, and what’s stopping them, what steps should we take to intervene and ultimately help?
Combining the three dimensions of efficiency
Relevance, difference and brand position are three key dimensions of effectiveness. A solid approach to driving EQOV requires creativity, but creativity must be driven by the key principles mentioned above. The result is what we call a definite idea.
- Relevance: What interests the audience and what will move them emotionally?
- Difference: What is expected and common in competitor activity, and how do you stand out?
- Brand and company: What can we say, do and promise authentically, credibly and really deliver?
If your ideas meet two criteria but not the third, this will help guide the development of your idea. What will make it more relevant? What will make it stand out more? And what will make it more in line with your brand and business?
Ask the tough questions to sharpen your focus
Rigorously questioning each activity will help you clarify what it is supposed to do so that you can assess whether the activity is likely to achieve that goal. We have found the following questions helpful:
Are you increasing brand share or market growth?
- A market leader may need to grow the category by bringing new people into it – while defending against competitors who take your cut.
- A challenger may find an opportunity by taking part in larger players in the category.
What action do you expect from your audience?
- Has your audience ever tried your brand?
- Are you trying our products for the first time or hoping to increase frequency or cross-sell to an existing customer?
Do you want to create an emotional or rational attachment with your customers?
- Is the target audience making a rational or emotional choice?
- If emotional imagery obscures the functional difference of your product or service, functional benefit messaging will perform better.
- In a more commoditized market with less differentiation, the emotional connection to the brand will yield better results.
There is no silver bullet for efficiency to replace time for critical reflection and creative exploration. But given your customers’ journeys to purchase; the three dimensions of relevance, deliverability and difference; and questioning your activity to stay focused will improve your efforts.