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I’ll sum this up in a simple statement.  It’s free.  You just have to take the time to do it.  And, at Mi, we do it all the time: Think Like a Consumer

Years ago it became a mantra of ours as we dove deeper into the restaurant industry.  Traditionally, we are rooted in using marketing programs we can measure, prove success, and ultimately, drive profitable sales for brands.  These are foundations for building solid marketing programs you will use for years to come.  But, as we talk to our clients, one item rings true but can also be easily forgotten as marketing programs and results are put under the microscope.  Thinking like a consumer.

As we balance how we develop strategies for brands, we also make it known that we all must think like a consumer along the way.  Last week, I wrote about an experience at a conference where demographics were proclaimed dead.  The second statement from the same panel caught me off guard in the same way:

”In marketing to your loyal customers, if you send the same message/content 2 times to the same person and they don’t respond, they will never respond to that message.”

I jokingly made the analogy to this making me scratch my head so hard it bled.  In reality, I paused and it made me use our mantra at Mi: To unpack this statement, I needed to think like a consumer.

So, I put myself in the shoes of the loyal customer of a restaurant.  I am in their loyalty program.  I have been in a few times and sporadically pay attention to their messages to me.  As a consumer, I am loyal to them in the sense that they reward my behavior with perks to their restaurant.

From the brand’s perspective, I am only loyal to them (and not other brands), and they have no clue why I don’t respond to emails/offers.

There is a key difference in thinking like a brand and thinking like a consumer:  As a consumer, I am “loyal” in the same way to 30 other brands in addition to their brand.

As a marketer, if I think like a consumer, I would be able to see my email outreach is one of 30 emails my loyalty member receives at a given time.  So many things go into whether or not a loyalty member will open their message.  Timing, the chaos of a consumer’s day, strength of subject line, the time since their last visit, their overall experience with the brand, etc.  All of this brings me back to the statement from the conference:

”In marketing to your loyal customers, if you send the same message/content 2 times to the same person and they don’t respond, they will never respond to that message.”

Thinking like a consumer would tell me, I delete boatloads of emails everyday without thinking twice.  If I received an email from a brand 2 times, I would have a low likelihood of seeing the message at all let alone responding to it.  I would have also received 60 other messages that would have impacted my desire to read those 2 messages from a specific brand.  Thinking like a consumer would tell us we need to exercise a bit more patience as marketers and ‘2 strikes and you’re out’ is definitely a flawed strategy.

Consumer behavior as it relates to your brand can back up my stance even further.  Let’s take another scenario.  Pie Five Pizza sends me emails as a member of their Loyalty Program.  Because of location, I don’t visit as often as the brand might like me to.  I enjoy the brand, the pizza, and the price is decent enough.  Again, because of my lack of proximity to a location, I don’t visit very frequently.

But, I keep getting messages from them every week. Because I don’t respond or react constantly, some marketers would tell you to send me new messaging or to stop sending to me after 2 efforts.  The reality is, the messaging I receive could be doing its job.  Hurdles in my normal life are holding me back (not the messaging itself).  Exercising patience and understanding my normal behavior with the brand would help set a better expectation.  And, for me as a consumer, consistent contact keeps Pie Five top of mind as I am in a position to be near their location, ready to eat, and ready for pizza.

Averages, studies, and claims certainly can tell us a lot about consumers and preference.  However, if we gather as much information as possible on each of our consumers, their habits, demographics, and purchases with your brand, we can go a lot further than using averages to inform our marketing.

If we combine those averages, studies and claims with actual data on each consumer AND we think like a consumer, we would all be a step closer to smarter marketing that produces for the bottom line.  Your loyal consumers will thank you for it.  And your brand will too.