Whether you are a media seller, buyer or creator; the current business model is changing on a daily basis. Those that try to survive or prosper using today's; or worse yet last year's methods are an endangered species. Aside from innovation and knowing how to creatively bring together new concepts; one must understand the consumer far better than ever before. The consumer is driving change.

Marketers may try to identify markets and sell new services to people, but the consumer is now totally in control. Most consumer data that currently exists are demographics, but that's no longer enough. Nor is sophisticated modeling which tells you which part of your marketing budget worked.

What's needed is understanding why things happen in the market place. A consumer behavior skill set will become a critical asset for any media or marketing executive. Just knowing your area of expertise i.e. print, TV, digital, marketing, etc. will not be enough. While there are numerous studies that measure various media from TV and outdoor to web sites, no one syndicated study accurately measures how and why today's time pressured consumer selects his daily media choices. What determines which web sites a person visits? Or what TV shows they watch and how? And even more importantly why they buy one brand of tooth paste versus another. Is it habit, price, the packaging, a friend's recommendation, the taste, etc.?

Consumer behavior drives media interaction and the purchase of any product or service.. If someone has an interest in music, food, fashion, travel or politics; being a smart consumer, whatever, that can determine many of their buying decisions. Media companies and marketers tend to focus mainly on demographic profiles. This only tells you who your market is; it does not tell you how to attract more of them. Or why you may be losing market share.

To acquire consumer behavior expertise you need to personally conduct your own brand audit. Rather than utilize a costly branding company which often times asks the wrong questions and relies on a few focus groups; consider initiating your own brand audit using Survey Monkey which has little or no cost. Take three different groups to survey:

customers you have, customers you have lost and customers you wish to attract. Find out their favorite web sites, magazines, TV shows, activities and major interests. The interests you measure could range from how important it is for them to become smarter, healthier, wealthier, a trend setter, etc. What's importance is to measure those attributes and characteristics that are most essential to your brand.

Take enough time to make sure you select both the right and key characteristics to measure. You should ask others in your company for their opinions too. The results will help you create a meaningful and actionable profile of consumer behavior as it relates to and impacts your brand.

By asking the right questions you can better understand what drives consumption of any product or service. First you need to find out what key brand attributes are most important. This can be done by listing different variables. For a soft drink it might be: taste, price, nutritional value, mixability, status, packaging, other, etc. The attributes could be easily rated on a 1-5 scale with 5 being extremely important, 4 important, 3 somewhat important, 2 very little importance and 1 being not important at all.

By finding out what attributes are most important to your target prospects who don't buy your product or service you can be better able to market more effectively to them. For those who have stopped buying your brand and switched to another it's important to find out why? Again a series of possible reasons can be listed for check off such as price, my friends and family members, my taste changed, just wanted to try something new, etc.

For a TV show, web site or magazine the same approach is easy to apply.

First you need to fully understand why people regularly read or watch your programing or content versus your competition. What brand attributes are the key drivers and how important are they on a 1-5 scale. Verbatims, open ended questions become highly valuable such as:

How would you describe this program or magazine to someone who has never seen it before. What one thing would you change to make it more interesting or valuable to you. What do you like least? If it disappeared what would you replace it with?

By better understanding consumer behavior one is better armed to market any product or service. Whether a content producer or marketing or sales executive, the more you know about why someone buys or does not buy your product or service, the more marketable and valuable you become. With more choices than ever before facing consumers, the ability to create new strategies based upon known consumer behavior will become a heavily demanded skill set.

Steve's most recent book You Can't Fall Off The Floor - The Insiders' Guide to Re-Inventing Yourself and Your Career chronicles his 50 year career working for over 25 different companies with 189 lessons learned and insider tips from Gayle King, Cathie Black, Chuck Townsend and 28 others; Blacker is still going strong today as a partner in Frankfurt & Blacker Solutions, LLC. His web site is blacker-reinventions.com and e-mail address is blackersolutions@aol.com

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