Welcome to our updated guide for audience-first marketing strategy, a guide to what audience-first is and how you can use tools to deploy it. Scroll to download our white paper guide to get the full picture of this exciting phase of marketing.
Before we get into audience-first strategy, a great, big idea is what drives successful campaigns – no matter the budget.
To arrive at those ideas, first, you need knowledge about an audience or potential customer. Usually, that knowledge is institutional, or it comes from a piece of research. Often, that research takes some time that we don’t always have. Research can also be biased.
At D/A, we advocate an ‘audience-first scientific approach to campaign planning, brand strategy, and marketing implementation. Our proprietary Sila tool helps with this.
What is audience-first?
Audience-first is a simple concept. Simply put, it comes down to knowing your audience better than they know themselves. And while that sounds simple, in reality, it requires a mindset shift from how brands have traditionally been built, which this diagram can best sum up:
That model is being disrupted now. This is happening with the rise of the creator; through them, we’re better able to understand audiences. Those who understand the power of the audience disrupt the flow from the traditional flow to a flywheel.
This is the basis of how we should be thinking about what audience-first means:
If you’re interested in understanding this on a deeper level, please download our Audience-first whitepaper:
What is the Audience-First strategy approach?
Simply put, it’s knowing your audience more than they know themselves and putting that at the front of whatever it is we want to do. We are not talking about personalisation, which can have significant scalability issues. Audience-first is just as applicable for a brand strategy, category work through to campaign planning.
It’s about a robust understanding of where your customers are. It comes from three main pillars:
- The key things they care about.
- The things they do.
- Their personality traits.
Robustly answering these questions means brands have the depth to do work that resonates more deeply. This means effective work, as it drives greater ROI or more ‘bang for the buck’.
The process follows a straightforward path:
Example: Starting at the Lake, head north.
Here at D/A, we built Sila to better understand Arabic-speaking audiences in their native language, which most audience intelligence and social listening tools ignore. Sila is a giant data lake, allowing multiple information streams to collect over time. As a result of not focusing on keywords but rather on people, we eliminate biases.
Biases can be present on the researcher side by introducing keywords (guessing what is important to a person, from our perspective) or on the subject side by social desirability bias (saying what I think the interviewer wants to hear).
By starting in the lake, we build expertise that allows us to cascade insights through an audience. It works like this:
This is our Identify and Monitor stage.
What’s most important to your audience?
In this section, we will apply the data science of transformation, natural language processing, and statistical models to get what we need from the lake. Next, it’s time for setting about tracking and understanding the audience’s preferences.
Firstly, this is done in three straightforward but strategic ways. First, we track topics that link the defined audience together – what are the common elements? Are there any core interest topics we can learn about preferences from?
Secondly, data points for the topic allow us to understand audience key demographics. Lastly, we can work with personality models to understand the audience’s characteristics through a complex, well documented exceptional process that allows us to understand how likely someone is to exhibit a certain behaviour. What this process can uncover can be seen below:
That allows a deep understanding of the audience’s preferences, and makeup and deeper examination of an audience. This enables us to nudge them in the right direction through creative copy or deeper understanding.
Above all, by applying a scientific method to this understanding, we have an accurate, quick picture of our audience, whether they are one person or a million.
Layering up your audience first strategy
Getting to the truth of a brand is as important as connecting to a universal truth for our audience.
- Trends and topics;
- Audience makeup and demographics;
- Pain points and positive elements;
- Channel presence and use;
- Digital consumer preferences;
- Connections and affinities to brands.
We get unique perspectives on the creative to allow a strong base to create something effective. For instance, audience-first also gives media planners a specific way of targeting audiences.
This differentiates between a good campaign and one that genuinely moves the profit needle for a company.
Lastly, by understanding the complexity of an audience, we’re better able to move needles of profit, and that’s the job of marketing.
Audience-first whitepaper download
If you’re interested in this topic, download our practical guide, ‘Audience-first strategy: how brands grow is changing.’ It’s a deeper look into the world of audience-first and what it means for marketers.