In praise of the marketing brief
Tying your audience data together for effective personalization requires a sound methodology. That’s why every successful campaign starts with a marketing brief.
If you’ve been binging lately on the third season of Stranger Things, you’re not alone. The show has reached record numbers, with, according to Netflix and Nielsen, 26.3M Americans viewing at least some of the episodes.
But don’t feel bad. That doesn’t mean you aren’t special. You’re engagement with ST3 is unique to you. There’s something in ST3 that speaks to you personally, that resonates with you differently than with other viewers. It might be the chills, the heartbreak, or the excitement. It might be that you grew up on Spielberg films and 1980 TV, which the show references often. You may be a Sci-Fi junkie, or perhaps you’re still in touch with your inner teenager, when everything seemed tantalizingly, scarily new.
Whatever your reason, the reason that Netflix’s got you hooked is that it knows exactly what that reason is - and how to turn it on. And it does it by creating the perfect blend between the creative, the copy, and the audience. For every individual subscriber Netflix serves the content that will insinuate itself, unconsciously, into the recesses of the mind that trigger the specific mix of familiarity and curiosity that for the viewer spells engagement, and for Netflix spells conversion.
Not everyone can be Netflix, you’re probably thinking. And there’s some truth in that. Netflix’s personalization algorithm has been the subject of much interest, and even more funding. The media giant is using some of the most robust and finely tuned ML around to inform its content distribution, not to mention a battalion of art & creative professionals.
But even for your smaller brand or business, the application of the Netflix marketing logic can be a game changer.
Translating data into creative
Audience analysis and target market segmentation give brands an unprecedented ability to tune into the unique attributes of their customers and prospects. Where they live (geographics), their gender, age, occupation and family status (demographics), they’re lifestyle, behavior and decision-making patterns (behavioral data), and even their personality traits, values, opinions, and interests (psychographic data).
Segmentation isn’t an end unto itself. It’s the means to communicate with customers based on their unique characteristics, driven by the fact that personal, bespoke communications are more efficient than mass interactions. In more concrete terms: when done well, personalization increases marketing ROI.
The problem starts when marketing teams are inundated by a growing number of segments and the need to create personalized content for each. They have audiences of different genders, ages, geographies, interests, lifecycle stages and incomes. When taken off its lofty peg and brought down to the marketing floor - what does personalization really mean, and how should one go about doing it? In other words: how should your data-driven insights be translated into your marketing materials?
It all starts with the marketing brief.
The making of a marketing brief
You cannot create an effective personalized campaign unless you know:
- Who you’re writing it for
- How that person thinks
- What that person needs
- What you want that person to do
We’ve discussed audience profiling as a method to understand each segment. In order to act on this intelligence you need to incorporate it into a marketing brief, that will guide your team’s creative process.
A marketing brief is a working document that contains all relevant campaign information in a structured, actionable manner. It serves all campaign stakeholders, including those responsible for the campaign initiation, creative, execution and measurement. Think about it as the proverbial campaign bonfire, around which all campaign personnel huddles.
A solid marketing brief should contain the following sections:
- Audience segment. This part needs to incorporate all the data you’ve amassed that is needed to define the audience segment on your ad platform of choice. It should include info such as age, gender, location, language, profession, annual income and interests. The more information you add, the more finely tuned your segment will be.
- Audience insights. A deeper level of profiling involves insights about your audience’s attitudes and behaviors, and should inform your campaign’s angle. For example, sentiment data about your brand, competing brands, and specific considerations are powerful insights to use at this stage. If you know your audience is happy with your pricing - celebrate it! If you know they are crestfallen about your delivery and customer support, mitigate their concerns. Behavioral audience insights—are they introverts or extroverts? Are they risk-averts, or always on the lookout for the newest products and innovations?—will go even further in guiding your campaign strategy.
- Messaging—Copy & Creative. Your copy and creative needs to build on top of the two previous sections. Additional data to guide it can be found around information about the audience’s unique preferences, for example, other top categories of your brand they’ve shown interest in. When running a campaign for your facial makeup, knowing that the audience is also interested in haircare can go a long way towards upselling or cross-selling.
- Measurement & Objective. The campaign objective, of course, is where it all starts, so it should actually be at the top. You’ll need to adopt a completely different strategy to awareness, sales activation and retargeting campaigns. But we’re circling back to the objective here as it’s closely tied to your campaign's measurement methodology. Before you even start ideating creative and messaging, figure out what your campaign is optimizing for: clicks, conversions, ROAS, brand equity. Impressions, reach—the list goes on and on. Choosing the metric relevant to the objective will be crucial for defining the success of your endeavour and to optimize the campaign going forward.
From profile to ad set
The marketing brief is an essential tool to ensure that your audience profiles are being put to use when developing creative campaigns. If we keep the brief pillars in mind and pick up on the Netflix example we started out with, you’ll see that it’s now kind of easy to reverse-engineer each ad set to its marketing brief. Here’s another vivid Netflix example:
Albeit it’s over-simplified, it serves well to demonstrate that working methodologically with your audience data will enable you to engage them on the basis of their personal preferences. When you grow up, you can have an algorithm do the work for you, just like Netflix. In the meantime, use a campaign brief. The results will be just as fab.