"Can you come and watch this advertisement? We will take out the trash. "
So it was that in general began studying consumers when I was accountant for the country's most creative advertising agency in the 1990s.
My team and I were back at the agency, the night before, we had to show the client rough cuts and determine which version would be most effective. After culminating in a stalemate, we called the consumer: the office cleaning attendant who, in exchange for abandoning cleaning duties for an hour, gave his opinion on our creative work.
I would like to be able to say that it's only once, but I think the cleaning crew of 375 Hudson Street in New York started to put "the voice of the consumer "on his CV at the time of their departure.
This method of fact-finding is unfortunately not enough-the world of communications. While it's easy to look back and laugh at our approach to the eleventh hour, I could say that this type of direct-exposure interview worked very well when the advertising industry was simple, when the passage from the media to the consumer was direct. ]
All the science you needed in this world was a basic knowledge of storytelling and good intuition about consumers – and one could deduce if an idea was relevant and a story well told simply by asking questions to people.
The proof is in the pudding
In the past, advertisers could target discrete and largely homogeneous audiences who consume media in a centralized and well-defined manner (for example, prime time or during peak hours). Multimedia content, as well as the branding messages that accompany it, could be written for the public rather than for an audience – one among many others.
Now there are as many audiences as there are consumers and almost as many channels of communication. Effective advertising campaigns must create layers of creative elements in multiform narrative universes forming around micro-targets in almost endless combinations, while brands struggle to reach consumers in their growing media bubbles individualized.
Understanding the diverse needs of consumers, and the combination of messages that will appeal to everyone is a challenge that far exceeds the very intuition of the best advertising minds – it requires facts.
A fact is something concrete: information that corresponds to reality.
What is your audience, what are the media they consume and how are they in the realm of fact?
Facts do not sell, but ideas do not
For brands and consumers to find themselves in the same room, their usefulness is limited. According to Friedrich Schlegel, literary critic, "the notes of a poem are like anatomical lectures on a piece of roast beef". Like poems, compelling ads are more than a checklist of behavior. They must appeal to the imagination of the public.
As frustrating as it is for many marketers, logically listing why a product is superior to the competition does not work. People do not make decisions based on facts. They process information in the most efficient way possible and make decisions based on their belief that a brand or product will transport them from their current state to a higher state. They act on ideas.
While "fact" derives from the Latin facere or "do", "the idea" comes to us from the ancient Greek idea, "see".
Ideas result from the application of a framework of interpretation to a set of facts. They guide the audience to a conclusion. By presenting the public with the idea of a brand rather than a set of attributes, it is easier for them to grasp its potential value in their lives.
Facts to Ideas, Building Data in a Snapshot
1. Trust your instincts – but check. We are only aware of a fraction of the billions of bits our mind treats each day; Although our intuition often escapes the explanation, it is the product of considerable mental effort. Our failure to explain why we are inclined to follow one path or another is not a reason to dismiss the signals of our unconscious mind.
Think of your intuition as a hypothesis in the making: after consciously training, you can test it, gathering the facts you need to triangulate the truth. This could be as simple as clearly describing an argument based on existing knowledge, but may require further research. In both cases, your instinct is as effective as the data that underlies it.
2. Recognize the limits of knowledge. Comprehensive knowledge will always elude us, but judicious application of research is essential to turning creative impulses into compelling announcements. It's easier than ever to create large data sets and search for answers on beautifully formatted slides. Do not forget that facts are best used to inform, not to train, solutions.
When testing, remember that meaningful answers are based on well-defined questions. The facts will always indicate an answer, but not necessarily the answer to the question you asked. The digital age gives us access to an ocean of quantitative data, and it's all too easy to lose sight of its purpose – to forget the ideas you're trying to support.
3. Think dynamically. The facts provide a solid foundation and intuition can serve as a creative guide, but to build ideas, we need to engage in a synthesis. We need to simplify the facts in order to highlight the ideas.
Synthesis is a dialectical process and you must move from the realm of ideas to that of facts. It is helpful to start with an overview before organizing the facts into knowledge. By verifying the story you want to tell against your evolving set of facts and your nascent argument against the grandiose narrative, your argument will be reliable and moving.
4. Tell a story. Just as an effective creative expresses an idea about a product or brand, your research and analysis should also tell a story about it, whether it's about your target audience or the audience. 39, effectiveness of a narrative technique. The synthesis process will provide the basics of your data-driven story, but convincing it is an art.
Present ideas that you have developed from the data to guide the creative process. Effective stories – even those on datasets – run from beginning to end, acting as a conceptual map for their readers. The most important tool in your arsenal is the contrast between these points.
5. Start each day stupid. This is the mantra of a creative agency that I admire. Like all great stories, it expresses an idea in a clear and powerful way – in this case, one must be humble and reject assumptions in a sector in constant evolution. As technology transforms media in a new and exciting way, be open to new knowledge and ready to adapt.
Just the Facts, my
The digital revolution offers us the luxury of abundant real facts and in the current individualized media market we have more than ever needed. Facts and ideas are needed to express the value of the brand in a way that convinces consumers. Unsupported by facts, ideas are directionless and tend to fall flat. Without a creative spark, the facts remain sterile and without interest.
And, it's a fact.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the invited author and not necessarily those of Marketing Land. Associated authors are listed here .
About the Author
Peter Minnium is president of Ipsos Connect, where he heads the American team that helps companies measure and amplify relationships between media, brands and consumers. compelling content and excellent communications. Prior to going to market research, Peter was responsible for branding initiatives at IAB, focused on addressing the under-representation of creative advertising online.