By starting a brand’s storyline with an ad, we lock the idea into the mold of the audience we assume we can reach. We craft a message that’s tailored to that audience, and measure our success by how well we captivate this audience. However, this sometimes ignores new audiences that may be interested in us, but who don’t show up in our research or planning. It also can lock us into expensive media buys before we’ve established that the audience will be receptive to our story.
What I suggest is that we flip this model on its head. Begin with a word-of-mouth effort first, and build a conversation around your story right from the outset. Here’s why:
It Frees the Story to Evolve
When we engage our audience around core themes of our story through social, experiential, and PR efforts first, we start a dialogue that can tell us more about what customers actually want. Equipped with these learnings, we have a much better grasp on how to create video, digital, out-of-home and other more traditional forms of advertising. This approach essentially empowers us to create much more effective ad units that are both couched in a greater understanding of customer desires -- and supported by the enthusiasm created by the word-of-mouth effort.
It Expands Our Reach
By creating a conversation with the market first, we learn not just what consumers want, but also get clues on where they’re moving culturally. This helps us avoid missteps as we expand into paid media, ensuring that we stay relevant with audience expectations. It also helps us craft a campaign platform more adaptable to the cultural nuances present in other markets. All these techniques together can sometimes double or even triple our reach, as we expand the brand message into entirely new audience segments.
It Enables a More Versatile Global Platform
By having deeper conversations within the local market and gaining insight into broader opportunities with new audiences, we can often find valuable universal truths that can be applied anywhere. And though establishing a clear global campaign with thoughtful localization is certainly efficient, allowing local conversations to grow organically to a global sensation ensures that the ensuing global ad campaign will be better positioned for success.
It ultimately comes down to inspiring and listening. We inspire thoughtful conversations to get an audience to think about our product in a whole new light. Then we take time to listen to their thoughts and adjust our story for maximum impact. In so doing, we arrive at ad units that aren’t just introducing us to a promotion, but rather continuing an enthusiastic local, regional, and even global conversation that’s already in progress.