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How to Bridge Strategy & Activation in an Agile Way

Utilizing first-party data to identify triggers and maximize opportunities to reach highly-valued, targeted segments.

Editor’s Note: This post is part of our Big Ideas series, a column highlighting the innovative thinking and thought leadership at IIeX events around the world. GutCheck will be speaking at IIeX North America (June 11-13 in Atlanta). If you liked this article, you’ll LOVE IIeX North America. Click here to learn more.

Marketing strategies have always been focused on the 4 P’s—product, price, place, and promotion. In more recent years, an important fifth P has been added—people—that arguably drives everything else. The introduction of people brings complication to the mix, since tools and methods that are currently leveraged to activate marketing strategy through the product life cycle were originally built for a “4P’s” world and when mass markets ruled.

It is undeniable that we have now moved to a world of hyper-targeting and segmentation. According to Catalina, 1.5% of shoppers decide the success of a new CPG product within the first year. This small percentage of the market typically consists of high volume, early adopters—the ones who make or break a product in the first year after launch. Almost every industry can relate to this phenomenon. Yet, the workhorse tools of activation such as traditional segmentation, norms testing for product and creative, and media planning and buying, were built for a different era. The disconnect between the new realities of market strategy and the now incompatible tools for activation is a big driver behind the high number of product launches failing and the lack of effectiveness of most advertising campaigns. Modern marketing organizations need tools to identify and understand audiences in a dynamic, agile way that allows them to also test and activate against them, bridging strategy and activation.

Imagine a world where we can identify and understand highly-valued, targeted segments with actionable insights that are tightly integrated with media planning and buying platforms—in just a couple of weeks. This is an existing reality.

It’s grounded in an agile framework that harnesses big data and combines it with other first-party data (e.g., proprietary survey data, CRM, and CX) that is purpose-built for identifying, understanding, and activating against target audiences. By combining first-party data and big data, brands can identify a market opportunity, understand their target audience, and incorporate findings into their messaging and creative execution. This process works by:

  • Identifying an audience with first-party data, such as a proprietary survey
  • Onboarding the proprietary target audience into a data management platform (DMP)
  • Once onboarded, we can understand how our high-value audience over- and under-indexes against key activation attributes. Such attributes we can evaluate include behaviors, media consumption, interests, personality, and triggers to purchase, all in a more detailed and robust level
  • Providing a final deliverable that allows brands to identify, understand, and activate upon an opportunity based on unique audience intelligence

A CPG brand wanted to grow their market share but needed to understand what segments posed the greatest opportunity for growth—and more importantly, how they could activate them. Using the solution and process outlined above, they were able to identify 4.78M consumers available for the taking, while uncovering their demographics, unique behaviors, and interests; the insights specified how, when, and where to engage them. As the client put it, “These insights allowed us to dig two layers deeper with each of these personas and understand triggers to drive sales and awareness, instead of just the latter. Now, we can really customize and hone our messaging and our approach to reaching these consumers.”

It’s no surprise brands are spending more time and money on marketing activation and analytics than ever before. According to Gartner, analytics is the top expense area for chief marketing officers in 2018 as they want to focus on “identifying, understanding, and growing customers.” As these analytics programs help brands better bridge strategy to activation, we should expect to see meaningful improvements in product success rates and advertising effectiveness. With this demonstrable ROI in hand, this area of marketing research and analytics will grow rapidly over the coming years, and instill energy and excitement into our industry.

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