Audience Alignment Matters
We were engaged to “redefine” a tech startup in the healthcare education space. The market was changing and the brand needed to adapt. We were initially engaged to protect the startup’s high volume website from losses during a major, necessary brand transition. The first place to look? Clarifying brand strategy.
The goal of this work was ultimately to reposition the brand as a trusted resource in a changing landscape. We kicked things off with a workshop, but that’s not where things ended.
We use workshops to expose brand truths and identify key components to a successful brand strategy. Couple this work with data and you’re unstoppable. Once the workshop is over, we leverage that intel to persuade our audiences to take the actions that we need them to take and that will ultimately be of value to them.
From there, we went through a strategic and technical alignment to make sure the site and messaging spoke to key B2B and B2C audiences. In addition to brand strategy and documentation, we updated content and materials, UX, conversion points, etc.
Here’s what happens when strategy is applied
Brand strategy does nothing for you if it’s not applied. Unfortunately, many organizations find this out the hard way. After dropping a ton of cash on “strategy” there’s no game plan to deploy and they essentially get no ROI.
For this particular client, yes we started with strategy, but you’ve got to keep moving into application and optimization if you want results.
At launch, not only did we prevent losses, we actually achieved significant gains. New users increased 36%, conversions for both B2B and B2C increased 25%, and total digital leads increased by 65% over the initial 3 months. We addressed technical needs and measurement while maintaining a strategic focus – clearly defining and communicating value props grounded in market research and brand strategy.
You can do it too! Grounding work in brand strategy is the path to sustainable growth and rabid fans.
Here’s how it happened (and a couple ways you can make it happen too).
A lot went into this engagement, but here are a couple key things that can help any brand move the needle through applied [good] brand strategy.
But keep in mind that to really see results, you have to have the building blocks in place. If you don’t know the basics like your goals, differentiators, guiding principles, and market, you’re not going to get very far. It’s important to get that nailed down and codified if you want to see significant change.
Digging in on Audience
Get to know your key consumers – we use our “4 W’s” exercise to kick things off. This super simple starting point has the power to dramatically change your perspective and open up a world of opportunity. It’s always a good idea to couple this exercise with market and audience research, testing, design thinking, etc.
Who – What are the psychographics and demographics of each key group? Define and divide as necessary.
Wants – Looking at each group individually, abstract what it is they really want. This should transcend product and get into psychology. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs isn’t the worst place to go when considering what deep need is being served by your relationship.
Worries – What are they afraid of? Again, go deeper than product here. But a healthy mix of acknowledging surface-level friction and deeper motivation will uncover valuable insights.
Wins – This one is important and frequently the place where we see organizations fall down. So you know what’s going on with the consumer. It’s critically important that you identify how a partnership with you will help them to win. Wins should align with both the wants and the worries of the consumer. You should help them achieve their desires and assuage their fears. How does the organization do that? How is the organization uniquely positioned to do that?
Persuasion Through Content: Leveraging the Intel
Another secret (not so secret) method of operation for us is simply to restructure key pages to follow a basic version of the sales funnel, leveraging the messaging developed with an eye toward audience.
Here’s the basic breakdown we start with:
Discovery / Awareness – When we’re talking about website pages, the first touch probably happened just before the user entered. To address this phase of the sales cycle, we need to do a couple things well. Reiterate that the user is in the right place and will find what they need, then summarize the content to come.
Research / Data – Part of the conversion process is research. Our goal is to provide just enough data to satisfy the need without overloading and jarring people into analysis mode. We try to think in terms of the principle of least effort: Information-seeking behavior stops as soon as minimally acceptable results are found.
Comparison / Consideration – We blend comparison and consideration in our framework. The key here is to both provide an anchor point, pitting us against the market’s alternatives (whether that’s a competitive idea or an actual competitor). Once we’ve defined our position, we’re already moving into consideration. Adding support like features, benefits, and social proof will really drive the point home.
Conversion – Here’s the money maker. Ideally, we will have made a compelling case for the final step in the conversion process. Paint a picture of the final steps and what life will be like post conversion. Use language that reflects the step. One of our tricks for the final CTA is trying to fill in this space. Imagine your audience member saying… “Okay, now I will ______.” That gap might be filled with something like, “Get my free resource” or “Schedule a call” but it probably isn’t “Submit.”
And there you have it! Two practical ways to apply brand strategy. It starts and ends with people.