According to this study, 93% of word-of-mouth activity still happens offline. Those offline conversations with our friends, co-workers and peers influence the purchases we make more than anything else. Similarly, the things we do and see play a big role in the conversations we have.
This is incredibly relevant to marketers, the very people tasked with influencing people and starting conversations.
It used to be that TV, with its mass reach and utter ubiquity, could easily get people talking. Few channels and little competition for audience attention allowed advertisers to get their money’s worth with a few commercials. This dynamic is rapidly changing. TV is dying, audience ratings are collapsing, and people are unplugging left and right. So how can marketers continue to efficiently drive conversations that influence consumer behavior?
It seems pretty obvious that digital needs to fill the void. It can’t completely replace TV at this stage, but it can facilitate more of those conversations. By being present at the awareness phases of the customer journey in the same way TV has been, digital can help drive demand and create net new customers.
But not the way most digital marketers are currently targeting. The cookie is not helpful if you want to start a dialog between friends or neighbors—unless they both happen to be actively looking for a brand or product.
The trick is to find similar people living in close proximity; those that have the potential to purchase a product but may not be actively looking yet. Yes, the solution can be found in something as simple as zip-codes. The fact is that people with similar interests tend to cluster together in geo-graphic areas. If you’re driving through the streets of Beverly Hills, you’re going to see a few Rolls Royces, but yoga mats are hot in San Francisco’s Mission district. Applying this kind of geo-targeted segmentation strategy is just the beginning of building a profit potential framework for businesses.
Why wait for people to raise their hands and say “I’m in the market for a new yoga mat” when you could actually cause them to raise their hands by concentrating high frequency media in the right areas? Digital branding can actually create scale—something that TV does, and something that cookies just can’t deliver.
Christopher Skinner is a frequent speaker at Google conferences and other digital industry events. He founded MakeBuzz in 2001 and has worked with over 250 leading companies, including Vodafone, Target, United Airlines and Oreck. Look for Christopher’s column on The Makegood every month.