Know Thy Audience:
Relevancy Marketing Strategies

In Seth Godin’s book, Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers there is a concept of the permission marketing ladder that defines the stages potential customers and clients move through. Godin describes these stages as:

There are many different books, marketing strategies and patterns, each with their own variant of the permission ladder and customer progression. The stages and recommended tactics for moving customers between each stage might vary depending on whether you are selling products, services, or information. Regardless of your industry or profession though the key takeaway is understanding the importance of being relevant at each and every stage.

In this world of content and social media marketing, it's becoming increasingly important to engage across multiple channels to multiple audiences. Yet, the paradox is that the technology and tactics that makes so much communication possible, is actually making it harder to reach people through all the noise. The importance of content marketing strategies is exponentially adding to the amount of information available. Still, the solution to the problem isn’t to stop marketing and generating content altogether. The key is to make your content and marketing more relevant.

In fact, one of the key points that Godin makes is that communication must provide the customer with an incentive for actually paying attention to you. Your messages must be “anticipated, personal, and relevant.” So that is the goal - but how do we actually achieve it?

Start With Defining Relevance
The first step is really understanding your target audience, =i digging in beyond just those needs that map 1:1 with your products and services. Sometimes it is hard to spend time focusing empathetically about your customers - it is so much easier to just tell them about how great you and your product are.

However, investing time to formally detail your audience, to know what they really care about, and to figure out how to communicate in a way that is meaningful to them is important. Especially so if you expect your audience to invest their time in what you are saying or offering. Realize, too, that “audience” goes beyond your potential or existing customers. Consider how you can become more relevant to meeting the needs of other people you communicate with. From professional colleagues, to industry referral sources, partners, and suppliers.

Here are some ways you can help improve your relevancy:

Value Proposition Canvas
The value proposition canvas is a great tool for mapping out the jobs, tasks, goals, along with the pains and gains experienced by your audience. Move beyond just those tasks related to your specific product or service, and really spend time thinking about the person in their entirety. I’ve worked with clients who were willing to spend some extensive time digging into their clients needs and concerns, and as as result created some really unique points of differentiation and more value-added services - some that didn’t even cost anything to add.

Take a Sample Size of One
Nothing beats one-on-one listening to someone who represents the audience you are trying to reach. Sometimes this occurs after we’ve done a value proposition canvas session. We meet with someone we can safely share our hypotheses with and get some feedback. Other times, it is helpful to start with some questions to start mapping out the canvas.

Obviously every person is different, and so you end up with a data sample size of one - so you may not want to launch an effort full scale without some more testing and research. However, I’ve also found that some of the people I have interviewed to gather data have in turn continued ask other people and reported more information back to me.

The key is to do more listening than talking. And one way to do that is to record your call or meeting (with permission.) That way you can really watch facial expressions, listen to tone, and spend less time taking notes.

One Question Surveys
If you have enough traffic sources, you can create surveys on your website, through email, social media, etc. that pose a single question instead of an extensive questionnaire. In fact using some of the amazingly granular targeting options, this is a quick way to get some information about a particular target audience. Of course, realize that you’ll need to make the question relevant to the audience to maximize your responses. Consider breaking up longer surveys into single questions that you can post and ask quickly.

There are many other methods and techniques, each more or less applicable to any industry or profession. But all of the patterns for improving and optimizing marketing results have one thing in common: they all start with understanding the needs of your audience. Invest the time in making your marketing relevant, and as with any investment what you get out of it will be in proportion to what you put in.

Google+ is being torn apart.

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Just another example why it is so important to have a marketing strategy that doesn't collapse when there's a change in social media.


These changes may not have a major impact -- and might even be a good thing.  But is your business prepared if Facebook or LinkedIn goes away? Even if they don't disappear altogether, they can clearly lose favor quickly. Several colleagues have all but quit Facebook socially (let alone professionally).


The point: all social media channels are just that -- channels. You need to focus on your branding, messaging, the customer experience, and how you will differentiate yourself and your business. The channels and tactics will necessarily change over time - but providing value, excellent customer experience, and continuous innovation will never go out of style.

Try something new with your hashtags.

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Hashtags are also great for automating business efforts. Support is one example (and alluded to in the article) where you might tell your customers to use #support when contacting you for help via Twitter.


Then using automation software (like Zapier) you can automatically detect messages that reference your Twitter name that include the #support hashtag. Using Zapier, you can then do any number of things such as opening a ticket using something like Zendesk, or send that support message to a support channel in Slack.


The important part is that using social media for more than just broadcasting is important -- be sure you have a good method for staying on top of growing inbound messages too.


Feel free to try it out on us... just send a tweet to @ideaspringbiz and include the #tangocard for your chance to win a $25.00 Tango Card gift card. (We'll randomly pick someone on July 31st, 2015 and let you know by Twitter if you've won.)

I’ve been studying various patterns and practices for conversion optimization for quite some time now. There is much that one can discover after countless hours of exploration into the world of marketing science, marketing psychology, neuromarketing, and data analytics.  However, the more I learn about the low-level scientific theories, the more they seem to simply validate basic marketing principles. Each of the points below really underscore the same principle: the more you can tap into understanding your ideal customers and clients the more effective your marketing will be.

Motivation Matters Most

If a person doesn’t have the proper motivation to purchase your product, then everything from your value proposition to the color of your opt-in button has no significance. In fact in almost every pattern of optimization, client motivation stands as an unchangeable component.  All other optimization factors are a function of improving reaction, based on a presumed positive motivation.

For some time there was often an emphasis in finding key influencers for social media marketing. The theory being that these influencers would influence their followers to desire and act in purchasing the same way.  In reality, it turned out that influencers were just a really good channel for broadcasting one’s message - but it did little to actually influence the motivation of the crowd. It may be that identifying influencers can help shape people with the same affinities or interests, but that is not necessarily the case.


Video on The Myth of Social Media Influencers

Translate Motivation into Empathy

All humor aside, I’ve learned that not everyone shares the same interest or ability in taking “empathetic journeys” to walk a mile in their client’s shoes.  Some can articulate the steps of a hypothetical client’s journey, but not necessarily tap into the emotional state or feelings.  Yet, this ability is absolutely critical to any successful conversion optimization and marketing optimization planning.

People make their ultimate decision to act from their limbic brain, the portion responsible for feelings, which has no language or logic. In fact, when people make a snap decision or have a “gut reaction”, because that portion of the brain has no language, the reason for the decision is often expressed in terms of “feeling.” For example, “I don’t know, it just feels right.”


"Why" Is More Valuable than "What"

Data analytics is absolutely critical to any marketing optimization. As the cliche goes, you can’t change what you cannot measure. But often, there is a reliance on basic analytics which only tells you ‘what’ happened, but not ‘why’ it happened. The true value in analytics comes from understanding why an action was taken - not just that an action occurred.

Finding out why an action was taken can be as simple as asking customer (or potential customers) for insight into the reasons why they did (or did not) take a particular action. There are countless tools that can make the actual process of asking easier. However, context and having a logical approach to asking question is still important in capturing and quantifying open-ended answers to qualitative questions.

Other advanced analytical tools (such as visual tracker analytics) can be a great middle-ground. Although visual tracking analytics still show you what happened, the visual aspects combined with empathetic thinking can help create stronger hypotheses for additional testing and changes.

Good Overview on Qualitative Metrics 

getting customer feedback


I’ve often joked with clients that I rely heavily on my “gift of average-ness” which is really just the ability to think empathetically about what motivates clients and customers. First start with truly tapping into what motivates your target audience. Actually spend detailed time thinking beyond the steps, and tap into emotional feelings. Then craft your offer around your clients physical (task/goal) needs and emotional drivers (experienced or avoided pains, and desired emotional gains.)

Optimization only matters when you have the right audience matched with the right offer, communicated the right way. The tools and techniques for marketing optimization can then be used to improve the targeting, improve the messaging, and improve the results. And although we often focus on marketing automation and technology, don’t forget that one of the best ways to get feedback is to actually talk with someone and ask for their constructive input.

By 2030, technology will have become so deeply integrated in our lives and ourselves that we simply won’t notice it anymore

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Interesting article on how the Internet of Things (IoT) and predictive analytics may make our lives easier and actually push technology into the background.

We can see small snippets of this in our apps already. For example I have apps on my phone that are contextually aware of when I'm driving, and when I've stopped driving.  One app I use, MileIQ automatically detects when I am driving (versus walking around with my phone.) It tracks each start and stop, and provides a list of my drives, showing me dates, times, geo location, and best guess as to the actual location name.

This makes it incredibly easy for me to categorize my personal and business trips. Applying the type of artificial intelligence @randhindi mentions would mean integrating additional data to make things even more automated.  In the ubiquitous computing paradigm my calendar, e-mails, and other points of data would be used to automatically categorize my trips for me. So I would have the app technology... but it would disappear into the background, maybe even automatically posting the entries into our accounting software.

Of course there is a long way to go, but we can see how some tools are already making things easier. Look at sites like (think Twitter for devices sending data) and which can visualize data sources.  As a quick test, in a matter of minutes I connected my phone to the the dashboard, and made a quick map of my wandering around the house and backyard.

Taking the transportation examples even further, one of our clients Spangenberg Partners is providing solutions under their Roadwise Systems brand for trucking industry that are really quite amazing. Products such as MobilEye that uses amazing artificial intelligence to alert drivers (and what I believe is the future of technology for driver-less cars vs. Google's approach.) And MacoPoint that automates load tracking and tracing. And with shortage of long-haul drivers we're going to need as much automation and efficiency as possible.

It is truly an exciting time for technology, data, and connectivity. But as much as I love technology and data, that passion is driven by using technology and data in a way that positively impacts lives. So I really do welcome the ubiquitous computing world where the technology gets pushed to the background, and we can focus more on what matters -- human interaction.