Bright Stories Marketing
Brand Strategy marketing consulting that builds businesses through better stories

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Our favorite stories that taught us a thing or two.

Mom. Mom. Mom!! Or, why are we constantly interrupting our prospects?

Let’s start by stating that I love my kids.  They make me laugh, I learn something new from them every day, and I’m certain that they help me to be a better person.  On the whole, there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for them. With this established, let me describe an average morning:

I get up to turn on the coffee pot.  “Mom, can I watch iPad?” “Mom, where’s bun-bun?  I can’t find him in my bed.” “Mom, is today my field trip?”  “Mom, the iPad isn’t charged.”

I rush to take a shower.  “Mom, do I have to brush my teeth today?”  “Mom, can you open this cereal bar for me?”  (Did I mention I was in the shower?) “Mom, where’s my Pokemon shirt?”

Time for breakfast.  “Mom, am I buying today?”  “Mom, is the iPad charged yet?”  “Mom, who’s taking us to lacrosse tonight?”  “Mom, can I have another cereal bar?” “Mom. Mom.  Mom! Mom. Moooom! Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Can you go get me some socks?”

This covers about an hour of my day, and my rough estimate is that someone is trying to get my attention approximately every 15 seconds.  I’m tired of hearing my name by 8am. Some mornings I’d pay to have a mute button. All I want is to get us successfully out the door, and there’s constant interruption from someone demanding my attention.

Question: when was the last time you were able to read something in your news feed or an entire article where an ad didn’t intrude on your ability to view it?

From the early days where TV ads interrupted a program to now, where spam is rampant, autoplay annoys us at work, and we are followed around by the same pair of shoes on Instagram for weeks, many advertisers behave like my kids.  Is it any wonder that people are demanding greater restrictions on what companies can use to advertise to them?

We’re shouting at the people we ostensibly care about the most, our target customer.  Much of what we were originally taught about ad planning was about what our business needed, not about our customer. But now, with the shift of where people are spending their time, they are starting to demand a mute button.  Facebook is giving its users the option to clear their history and opt-out of the data tracking that powers Facebook pixel.  GDPR is giving people greater control over how companies are allowed to use what they know.  There is an overall push to have greater restrictions over privacy and how data is monetized. Marketers and media platforms must put the customer at the center.

There’s a better way to talk to our target.

My oldest son, whose personality has future mayor written all over it (in a shaking-hands-kissing-babies cute way, not a smarmy patriarchal way), has figured out a smarter tactic.  Other than the occasional mis-timed cereal bar opening request, he typically waits until the other two aren’t around. He’ll stand at my office door, and check to make sure I’m not on the phone, and then ask his question.  Not only does he get a less harried response, but he gets my full attention at that moment as a result. He has started to try to time his requests based on when he’s not interrupting and I’m more receptive, not the moment it occurs to him.  Guess which kid has been most successful at negotiating Flav-or-Ice after school?

Isn’t this a better way to treat our customers?  To know where and when they’re receptive to a message?  To respect them enough to stay out of their way when we’d be interrupting and show up when we’re not?  The data exists for to find out-- or to easily experiment-- when and where prospects are open to hearing from you.  A good planning team will start with a persona and help you map out the customer journey, key touchpoints and deliver a plan that moves your prospect gently along.   

No agency/ small budget?  Get a piece of paper, write down what you know about your target.  Interview friends, check out LinkedIn profiles, or leverage online research.  Then start with common sense and build an initial plan. Where and when are you likely to be most welcome, or at least not in the way?  When I was at J&J, there was data that KY ads performed better on personal devices and in evening hours than they did on desktop during business hours (as a side note, I still find it hilarious that this was something that has to be figured out).  There’s a reason why trade shows work well for B2B-- prospects are present to learn about available solutions in the market.  Buying search goes without saying-- in this case you’re showing up when they’re actually looking!

As you’re reviewing your plan, ask yourself a few questions:

  1. Based on what I know about this person and this channel/ time of day, what are they thinking about when they’re on here? (Hint: it’s likely not details of your product.) Am I standing in the way of them accomplishing a task, or am I helping?

  2. What are they used to from advertisers? YouTube has established a convention of pre-roll ads. Netflix has not. This doesn’t mean that just because someone else has done it, so should you. But it at least helps to frame viewer’s expectations.

  3. With this channel, does my product or message being there make sense? This doesn’t mean you can’t break convention or experiment. However, there’s a reason that Pampers doesn’t do advertising on LinkedIn. It doesn’t make sense.

Long term, you want to develop a 1:1 relationship.   Permission marketing has been an important idea for years, but as platforms are moving to give users more control over how their data is shared, it’s now more important than ever.  You want to be missed when you’re gone. That’s nirvana for marketing. To get someone from awareness to loyal follower takes time, and it’s far easier than if the first impression is annoyance at interrupting a person’s day.  

I started off by declaring my love for my kids.  I’m willing to bet that most of our prospective customers don’t have such undying love for us that they’re still willing to listen even though we’ve interrupted them.  Instead, let’s help our prospects along their journey and show up when we’re welcome so that they’re less likely to hit the mute button.

Lesson Learned: Shout at them less, and show up when you’re welcome instead.

There are a ton of good persona templates that exist in the world.  Here’s one for you to use if you need a starting point. Remember, this is less about arguing about whether your target is named Jen or Jennifer (trust me, it happens), and more about getting close to who they are so that you can best introduce yourself when they’re ready.

If you want help mapping your customer or conducting market research in support of your planning efforts, contact us.