Opinions Targeting Wireless Word of Mouth

What Marketers Can Take Away from Fireworks: Context and Content Matter

Posted by Glenn Pingul on July 3rd, 2013 at 11:00 am

As everyone packs their coolers, prepares their festive feast and heads off to 4th of July celebrations, there are a few lessons that marketers can take away from the long-standing tradition of fireworks.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Roman candles, rockets, fountains, and cakes – everyone has a favorite. For some, the ones with the loudest boom will always be their favorite. For others, it’s the ones with the brightest colors.

We all have different ideas about what is beautiful, and when it comes to marketing; we all have different ideas about what is valuable. Consumers’ needs are different. What appeals to one customer may not appeal to another. And what a customer finds valuable could completely change over time. Marketers must recognize the needs and preferences of customers on an individual basis in order to deliver valuable, personalized experiences that leave consumers longing for more.

Timing is everything

Years ago, I attended a large 4th of July celebration which promised a phenomenal fireworks display. Unfortunately, something went terribly wrong and with the lighting of the initial sequence, the whole display was launched. With so many booms and bangs and a cloud of smoke, it was nearly impossible to see any shapes or colors. And waiting five hours for a two minute show is never a satisfying experience.

Too often, marketers roll out the whole kit and caboodle versus aligning offer sequences to when a customer will be most receptive. People aren’t robots – meaning we don’t all have the same needs, behave the same way, or respond the same way at the same time – so timing the sequence of communications for each individual is key to influencing desired behaviors. It requires knowing someone’s previous and current behaviors and being able to predict their future actions. Only then can marketers engage customers in the right manner at the right time.

Variety builds anticipation

Every year there seems to be a new addition to the fireworks lineup. Pyrotechnic experts spend countless hours brainstorming, creating and testing an infinite number of color/shape/size/explosion combinations to determine what’s going to get the best reaction from the crowd. And every year, we anxiously await the show’s enhancements.

If the experts were unable to test and try new things, we’d likely lose interest. The same thing goes for mobile customers. Consumer anticipation builds as you engage more and more with each customer and over time they expect you to know them better. They also expect you to leverage those insights to deliver more relevant messages that address their specific needs. By testing new marketing treatments to determine what works and what doesn’t for each customer, marketers continue to fine tune their messages to pique the interest of their customers.

The right setting can make or break an experience

A tree in the way, on the downwind of ashes, an obnoxiously loud family – all of these can have a major impact on your 4th of July experience. And if someone attempts to sell your daughter a light up necklace for $15 once your blood is already boiling, you may not be too receptive. On the other hand, if you’re enjoying a wide open display on the beach at Lake Tahoe and the resort attendant offers you a $15 glass of wine, you’d be quick to say “sure, I’ll have a glass” (or two).

With marketing, it starts with knowing your customers and then determining and acting based on the right contexts. Even if you have the most sophisticated customer profiling techniques, if you’re unable to determine someone’s circumstances – and most importantly, determine the correlation between those circumstances and propensity for desired action – results will be lack luster.

Meeting expectations gets people talking

Have you ever noticed the power of word of mouth as it relates to fireworks celebrations? Maybe there’s a bit of radio or TV promotion and perhaps some online mentions but typically there’s no extensive outreach. Why? Because it’s not needed. Everyone knows which local events consistently deliver the best show – and the growing crowds year after year prove that people spread the word.

The value of word of mouth or social marketing is a huge opportunity for digital marketers. Most of us are much more willing to take a recommendation from a trusted friend versus a business – especially if we’ve had little to no interaction with the business to date. But before this becomes a widespread reality, marketers have to up their game to deliver experiences that are worth talking about. Defining and consistently meeting expectations is the first step to leveraging your customers as an extension of your marketing efforts.

Happy Independence Day and enjoy the fireworks!

One Response to “What Marketers Can Take Away from Fireworks: Context and Content Matter”

  1. I think this is a great analogy. And I would like to take it one step further---a single piece of content, just like a firework, can only burn so bright for so long before you need something to take it's place. Once great piece of content is a good start but you need to keep them coming! People will always remember the best and brightest but you can't count on memory alone to keep your audience engaged.

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