As advertisers, the traditional approach to effecting change is to understand the customer. How they think or feel about something, and how in turn that perception might be shaped. Often messaging is driven by research so contrived that it barely resembles life—let alone represents the idea or medium through which it will be delivered—assuming we all sit in a room studying press ads in a magazine! We concentrate so much energy on getting it “right” that we may overlook whether the customer will interact with, or even see, the result.

What’s now evident is that it’s the interaction between placement and content, data and message that determines the impact of the creative work.

Gone are the days when you might conceive an idea, transform it into a press ad or a video (the modern evolvement of print), chuck it on a website, wave some generic banners and expect your customers to form an orderly queue.

There is another way.

Brand Building—A Smart Approach

Not so long ago, a client sought to take on the market-leading brand. Their brand was of equal quality, but lacked the brand awareness to make it stick. We could have done our darnedest to improve its positioning and use their comparatively limited media budget to try and deliver that message. Or we could try to be smarter.

Analysis of their competitor’s social media and search data provided valuable intelligence. The brand’s size had attracted negative online feedback on blogs, forums and social media. Which is where context comes into play. We couldn’t take on the market leader head-to-head on their home turf. Instead, we looked for a patch where they were less comfortable. Somewhere outside their comfort zone.

This was it. By using contextual advertising placements (social ads and search-advertising which targeted people already exposed to negative comments about the market leader) we identified an audience primed to switch brands. In other words, open to an alternative. In this context, it wasn’t the message that needed to be pitch perfect. It was the strategy that multiplied out marginal benefits tenfold.

Make Your Brand’s Voice Stand Out

This one example demonstrates how in a world dominated by minute differences—in which every brand says much the same thing in much the same voice—the smart use of social insights and search data can be an advantage.

So what’s to take away? Messaging is as important as ever, but look for opportunities where context can amplify your chances of success. Look for the place where your customer is and your competitors aren’t (or don’t want to be!). The key is the relationship between data, communications planning and creativity. Become best friends with your media and social insight agencies and unlock opportunities for your brand.

  • Mark Evans

    Mark Evans is Digital Strategy Director at Langland. In 2012, Mark joined Langland, the world’s most creatively awarded healthcare advertising agency and part of the Publicis Healthcare Communications Group (PHCG), creating award-winning ideas for clients such as IDIS, Roche and Abbott Nutrition.

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