Getting Into Consumers’ Heads, Habits

Mar 26, 2007  •  Post A Comment

By Adam Armbruster

Special to TelevisionWeek

It used to be all about price.

But the upfront is slowly morphing from a short event into a 52-week constant give-and-take between buyers and sellers. In this brave new-media world, we realize we need each other more than ever and that innovation, not low price negotiation, is the key to lasting success.

Thankfully, today the upfront gives us the opportunity to innovate.

Since American customers are shopping for all products and services differently than they were even a few years ago, let’s not expect to market to them the same way as in the past.

Customers are”Web previewing” products, services and retailers before they buy. Thus, it is our responsibility to meet the customer at the time and place they”emotionally” purchase, which increasingly is online.

Before a person purchases a car, at least 75% of the buyers will visit the dealership’s Web site. Furniture shoppers do this 83% of the time. And new-home buyers visit the home builder’s Web site 90% of the time.

It would seem, then, that today customers will not set foot in a store until after they have purchased”emotionally.” That creates quite a challenge for marketers: How do you sell a product or a service to a customer who will not even come into the store?

Given these new ground rules, we propose you consider the following 10 questions as you meet with the media outlets this week:

1. How can each medium help you to shorten the buying cycle for my customer? In other words, can you employ the network and the network Web site to create organic frequency to the viewer and then drive these viewers to a retail Web site? This would generate increases in traffic and in measurability. Viewers who enjoy a television program also will enjoy the program’s Web site.

2. How can your network/portal help me tell my story in a compelling way? For example, is there a creative format to be used in addition to the old standby 30-second message? Breakthrough ideas are all around us, including long-form videos hosted on the advertiser Web site. This is an excellent use of online video and a great experience for the viewer.

3. What can you bring my customer to help them find me sooner? Is there a chance to link together television advertising, Web site exposure, e-mail blasts, point-of-purchase signage and customer-loyalty programs? This is a proven method to build measurable and effective sales-generating results. Shortening the consumer buying experience is the best way to increase market share. Customers who find it easy to buy from you are more likely to buy from you as well. Ease of purchase repeatedly ranks higher in surveys than even cost of goods.

4. Why is your network/portal important to my customer? Is this network/portal something a consumer watches every day or, more importantly, is it something a consumer tends to watch right before buying certain products? For example, many home buyers watch local news in the morning each day. Buying a heavy weekly schedule of morning news on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, as home buyers plan their weekend home tours, drives a builder’s traffic.

5. Can you help funnel buyers to me? Media Web sites are ripe with”organic” local consumers who are already fans of the concurrent media. Local television station Web sites get high traffic and can effectively funnel buyers to your Web site on key days and times.

6. Can we triangulate our Web sites around the consumer? Is it possible to link all media Web sites back to the advertisers’ Web site and then track the traffic that drives from site to site? Tracking these statistics reveals tendencies to buy and helps you plan the next campaign.

7. Are your content and my message congruent? Is the style and fashion of the creative congruent with an advertiser’s message? Picture an entertainment section of a local television Web site and your television message: Could the style of the ads be integrated into the station’s Web content to create a harmonious experience?

8. Can you help improve sales in a down market? Since one of the major advantages to television advertising is the ability to target a demographic, a psychographic, a day, date and time, it’s attractive to marketers seeking a turn-key marketing plan. This ability makes for a highly efficient and targeted campaign that eclipses the other popular media and is perfect to amp up results in any situation. Television advertising is a marketer’s dream come true.

9. What percentage of your audience is Hispanic? Only 40 percent of Hispanics said they would purchase”private label” or generic brands if they found themselves with less money. Advertising can dramatically affect them: 35 percent of Hispanics surveyed cited ads as a factor in selecting cosmetics, compared to 8 percent of general-market respondents. Also, brand names matter more to Hispanic consumers: It’s been reported that 58 percent of Hispanics believe it’s risky to purchase a brand they are unfamiliar with.

10. Is there hidden and increased future value in media online tools? Digital sales are playing a larger role at the upfront as buyers discover new ways to use these tools. However, some view traditional media online tools as irrelevant. For example, Jeff Lanctot, vice president of media and client research at Avenue A/Razorfish, said last month at the American Association of Advertising Agencies’ annual media conference,”Traditional media companies remain secondary participants in online advertising.” He estimated his agency spent nearly $550 million on digital media in 2006, with less than 10 percent of that going to digital offshoots of traditional media.

Is there awesome unrealized potential for marketers in using these tools? Could one of the broadcast groups create the next YouTube? Viacom’s recent departure from YouTube to join up with Joost could set this trend in motion. With Viacom’s incredible platforms for promotion, it is quite conceivable.

Perhaps the”traditional” players will end up winning the trophy in the digital race after all.

Enjoy the upfront … soon to be the 52-week-a-year marketplace of the future.

Adam Armbruster is a partner in the retail and broadcasting consulting firm Eckstein, Summers, Armbruster and Company in Red Bank, N.J. He can be reached at adam@esacompany.com or 941-928-7192.

Sources: Automotive News, Homebuilder Magazine, Ward’s Dealer Business 2006