The ART of Influence
If you’ve been a follower or friend to our agency, you might’ve noticed our tagline – The Art of Influence. As a marketing agency, we spent took a significant amount of time crafting the perfect tagline. Yes, it has a number of clever rationales behind the language, but more importantly, it reflects the truth of our craft — effectively intersecting and engaging target audiences so they take action.
Influence (noun) - the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself; the power or capacity of causing an effect in indirect or intangible ways
This blog outlines the core principles, methods, and tips our agency leverages to successfully intersect, engage, and activate audiences of all demographics.
Know Your Audience
Though seemingly intuitive, this most important step before intersecting, engaging, and activating target audiences is clearly defining your target audience.
Audience segmentation is the process of dividing people into groups based on certain criteria (as defined by your organization). While most companies believe they know their target audience, ineffective marketing tactics often reflect the need for a greater level of understanding.
To start, companies should not just group everyone together. If your target audience is broad (e.g., business professionals in a metro), invest the time necessary to further divide those groups. Research the demographic and psychographic information of your target audience to identify groups and behaviors you can refine into audience profiles. Ask yourself questions like:
What is the business-professionals population of the metro?
What is the gender split of the business-professionals population?
What is the standard age range?
What is the ethnic majority? Minority?
Is the metro attractive to professionals of a certain industry or trade?
Once you’ve collected standard demographic and psychographic information, dig deeper. What intricacies about these target audience groups are unique to them? Exploring religious and social practices, family and cultural norms, even regional trends will all support a deeper understanding of the people behind the audience profiles so you can better connect with each individual.
Lastly, write it down. Use the qualitative and quantitative data to develop audience profiles you can share with your team. Documenting your audience data is vital to ensuring everyone is on the same page. Furthermore, statistics support that writing things down enables a higher level of thinking and therefore, more focused action, which will come in handy as we shift into the next phases of intersecting, engaging, and activating your audiences.These profiles should be dynamic — meaning your leadership, sales, and marketing teams should review and update strategies often based on new information and/or changing behaviors.
Speak Their Language
Once you gain a clear understanding of who your audience is, you become better positioned to effectively communicate with them. But this goes beyond knowing which language to use in your advertising.
Pro Tip: Avoid simply translating “English” into your audience’s preferred language. If you are not a native speaker, consult with one to avoid embarrassing translation mistakes.
Linguistics is the study of language beyond words and inclusive of syntax, phonetics, and semantics. This means you should avoid limiting understanding to the words your audience uses but understand fully how they use them. For example, if your audience demographic is Spanish speaking but regionally you have a large volume of business professionals who migrated from Spain (versus Latin America), you might want to consider using Castilian Spanish instead of Latin American Spanish. However, if the population hails from Southern Spain, then Andalusian
Spanish might be more appropriate.
Beyond that, considerations on tone, vernacular, and cultural sensitivities are very important. Let’s use the African-American millennial population for the next example. African-American Vernacular English (AAVE), also known as Ebonics, is a distinctive dialect or variety of English spoken by African-Americans. But merely dropping “slang” into your commercial is not synonymous with “speaking the language.” AAVE is just as much about tone as it is about words. This means the “way” you read the script is as vital as the script itself — and the AAVE population can quickly recognize when someone is “perpa-trat’n’” (said: perpetrating).
Understanding what and how your target audience speaks is key to producing copy they will clearly grasp. But just as important is producing content that resonates with them. This means taking the time to identifying your unique value proposition for each unique audience. If audience profiles were thoroughly developed — and you include primary messaging for each audience — this part is easy. But remember, the words are as important as the why. Effective messaging requires saying what your audience needs (or wants) to hear in a way they will clearly understand.
Meet Them Where They Are
Once you have identified the target audience you are talking to, along with what (and how) to say your message, then it’s time to decide where to say it. Again, at its core the key to effectively influencing target audiences is about understanding them. Use your audience profiles to explore different opportunities to intersect and engage your target audience. If we use our original example of business professionals in a metro, you might consider advertising on the local metro transit that travels to downtown. Alternatively, you could consider sponsoring, participating in, or even hosting local professional-mixer events.
But don’t limit yourself to the obvious. Dissect your data even further to identify unique areas that won’t be heavily permeated by competitor brands or other organizations aiming at your target audience. As an example, if statistics show that most of your target audience’s demographic is single males, consider employing social platforms like Tinder (if brand appropriate) or popular social spots, like bars or sporting events, as possible advertising venues.
“Impactful advertising catches audiences where they naturally are in ways that are unexpected.” – Sophia Johnson, President/CEO of Alpha Business Images
Digital advertising has been on the rise in recent years as innovations in technology (and thus, digital-ad options) continue to multiply. But recent Interactive Advertising Bureau statistics estimate roughly 26% of desktop users and 15% of mobile customers now install ad blockers on their phones. Additionally, the advances in technology and ability to present deeply personalized and therefore relevant content have created a general market that now expects advertising content to be curated to their personal interests in ways that don’t seem “sales-y.” This is evidenced by both B2B and B2C companies increasing their use of social-media platforms and influencers to engage customers, as well as a proliferation in more traditional marketing techniques many assumed were no longer effective. Keep that in mind as you decide on placements for the messaging you want your target audience to see.
Show Up Consistently
Lastly, let’s explore the power of repetition. Just as it is key to learning, repetition is also key to successfully influencing change in your audience segments. Wherever you decide to display — be it banner ads or ball parks — it’s important that you stay in front of your target audience consistently.
Across the industry, thought leaders in marketing reference the “goldfish” as analogous to the amount of time marketers have to capture audience attention. That time frame continues to shrink as a digitally savvy general market has become accustomed to “digital advertising.” This means showing up one or two times is no longer sufficient for triggering action.
Determining and leveraging different methods to connect with your audience — then showing up in those spaces consistently — leaves an imprint in the minds of audiences (even if they don’t immediately realize it). Approaching the audiences from multiple sources — digital, traditional, even word of mouth — consistently is a proven way to not only make your target audience aware, but also to spark the interest likely to trigger the desired action.
Explore different ways to present the same information, take integrated approaches to targeting defined groups, and don’t stop pushing content. The ART of influence is about identifying the right goal for the right people, then being in the right place at just the right moment.