As marketers, our job is to align solutions and needs to everyone's mutual benefit - that's how I define it to first year business students. Easy to say, very hard to do. And we know we're successful when they choose our product over the other guy's.
So, how is a choice actually made? What elements are required to come to a decision?
The psychology and biology of decision making is a fascinating area and fields like neuromarketing make it even more so. Since we probably can't conduct fMRI's on every consumer, is there a framework that starts with the classic left brain - right brain dichotomy of rational and emotional thought? What kind of content should marketers produce to increase the odds of winning the battle of choice?
Like the totem pole, we need to tell a story about our products and brand. We also need to offer the proof points necessary to defend a decision. So, here's a simple structure of categorizing content:
- Emotional: satisfying the needs and aspirations of consumers is critical. For without that, there is no decision. This includes what might be termed branded content.
- Promotional: often times consumers need an incentive to overcome the risks of trial. These days, the deal has turned into a badge of honor of sorts; it is certainly becoming more social.
- Informational: as part of the process we need to satisfy the rational part of our brain. We're smart, right? We don't let our emotions decide? (actually we do) The pervasive comparative fact sheets do have a role.
- Communal: as social beings we want to both share and get recommendations from others. We also use these as a short cut.
This isn't the place for a 'channel strategy' per se since they are business artifacts driven mostly by budgets and span of control rather than things consumers think about very much. There are clearly advantages for using one channel over another - direct-to-consumer promotions via email or SMS make financial sense. As does using broadcast print to stimulate interest via emotional tugs. (Although I did hear a radio ad for a Groupon from Hoopes Vision the other day.) The key point is that all the tactical decisions have to reinforce one another.
Our job then is to figure out a holistic approach that blends the four types of content into a seamless experience so that no matter where the consumer turns the appropriate content is available.