The challenges confronting marketers have become noticeably similar to those of a political campaign manager. Both parties must figure out how to generate attention, inspire trust, and ultimately motivate a desire action. Cute jingles and babies don’t move the needle anymore.
In traditional marketer language, it’s all about the middle of the funnel–shifting sentiments and attitudes.
It makes sense. Decades of television spending have elevated most major brands’ awareness numbers into the high 90s. So the marketing war has migrated to the always-rather-foggy middle of the funnel. Here, marketers try to engineer shifts in preference and intent to drive sales up or counter shifts that drive sales down.
Further building the degree of difficulty is the now quite common need to communicate product benefits more complex than quality or durability. How do marketers get consumers to believe they’ve manufactured an environmentally friendly product, a “feature” that often can’t be proved even after a purchase? Claims for green products often resemble political campaign promises–unprovable and requiring belief. Creating a shift in belief, especially if a brand doesn’t have a favorable history, can mire the best marketer in the deep, dark middle of the funnel.
Insights based on consumer values solve the problems of those navigating the middle of the funnel. High-level political strategists have used them to shift voter sentiment left, right, and to the middle. They’ve known that driving shifts in attitudes requirse reaching people based on their values. Marketers from the CMO suite to the brand-manager cubicle are realizing the same.
Values-based insights aren’t easy to come by. Years of primary research and some serious algorithms are required to deliver insights into the consumers who value protecting their families more than building their own self esteem. Alternatively, identifying who buys a product because it makes them feel good rather than because the brand supports a cause is no easy task. Continue to the depth of recognizing the values consumers use in judging a company. These are insights that matter. These are insights based on values. These are the insights that cut through the middle funnel fog.
Now marketers share the political strategist’s need to shift attitude and sentiment. They live in the middle funnel. They demand insights based on consumers’ values, but more than that, these marketers want those insights made actionable. Not just five lines in a brand brief, but true action. Action like the opportunity to buy media based on the ability to identify audiences with these values. Political media teams have been doing it for years. Now major marketers are taking advantage of the same opportunity–not just buying media to reach these audiences, but then optimizing that media based on insights about those audiences.
Marketers who are facing the challenges of the middle funnel, and even those who aren’t, need insights into consumer values and the ability to act in a meaningful way on those insights. They need to know whether cosmetic purchasers value innovative products, and whether consumers in the market for a new checking account value peace of mind over achievement. Then they need to know where to reach them with media based on those values. After that messaging adjustment, product-line extensions and even new products can follow–all based on insights into consumer values.
We can argue whether it’s harder to get someone to hand over cash or cast a vote, but that’s not the point. Both are becoming exponentially difficult tasks as they compete for consumer/voter attention with ever-expanding media outlets and the demands of real life. You know, like sleep.
In this environment, there are few alternatives to successfully executing marketing strategy in the middle of the funnel. Political campaign managers and marketers both need to find new navigation tools for that foggy mess. Consumer insights based on values are like a shining torch that points the way. When they are made actionable, they make the way clear.