A few years ago, a trend emerged: skincare companies noticed that their customer demographics were shifting and that men were using their wives' and girlfriends' high-end skincare products. Eventually, men even began purchasing these products themselves, often under the guise of shopping for the household.
Beauty companies took notice of the data (and maybe a few fantastic-smelling men they passed on the street) and started to create product lines with blue packaging, approachable product names, and masculine scents. Entire startup companies launched to serve this growing market. If the industry hadn't been paying attention, they would have missed what has become a massive business.
Every business could benefit from digging deeper. Even giant, global CPG companies have blind spots.
When brands approach marketing in an open-minded way, looking to learn, fascinating things can happen. The sporting goods stores will stop spending their entire budget on ads in athletic magazines when they discover that moms are the ones buying the gear for their teenage athletes. The restaurant owner will open up their geotargeting beyond their ZIP code when they realize that the next town over is an affluent community filled with potential customers who would drive a few extra miles for a great steak.
Paying attention is essential, but today it's about more than that. It's also about gaining insight. Luckily, this is the era of big data. We no longer have to rely on one data set versus another: online or offline, desktop or mobile, website traffic or in-store visits, TV viewership or social engagement. Having all the sources at our fingertips is where it gets really interesting.
The caveat: All this data is only as valuable as what you do with it. It can be overwhelming to determine which signals are meaningful and which should be ignored, but it's all there waiting to be mined and leveraged — and, likely, most of your competitors are already using it.
So, how do you check your blind spots?
Start from Scratch
Forget everything you know and have decided over time about your target customer. Build your customer profile from scratch, whether you have been in business for weeks or decades as if you were starting today. If your products, pricing, industry, or even neighborhood have changed since you started, it's very possible your customer changed without you even noticing. This exercise will make you get honest.
New information is good, even if it's surprising. Be open to new insights, especially if they come from unexpected places. Who's really walking into your store? Where else do they shop? Are the website visitors also the purchasers? Don't look for these patterns just once — do it repeatedly and consistently.
Leverage Big Data
Marketing platforms are there to do the work for you. Find one that leverages multiple data points and provides analysts with a deep understanding of how to make sense of it all. It doesn't have to be intimidating; lean on the experts and it will be worth it.
Partners, such as a4 Media, understand that, when it comes to data, more is more, but there is a distinct difference between good and bad. We also turn these many data points into insights, and then actions — all in one platform. Because what good are insights if you don't use them to impact your business?
Test and Learn
It's easier than ever to diversify your marketing efforts with multichannel platforms that allow you to reach your customers across many mediums at once, as well as measuring in multiple ways. Test new tactics but be intentional. At a4 Media, we start with understanding our client's goals, and end with measurement and learnings; so often, we forget to follow up the "test" with the "learn," which is truly the most important step.
When you deeply understand who your customers are, you can be more creative, more effective, and more efficient. And for brands, such as those skincare companies who think they already know the "who," the question becomes "who else?"
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