In The Power Of Habit, Charles Duhigg provides a great understanding into how habits are formed, or even broken. Through a Cue, a Routine and a Reward cycle, the reader learns where pivotal behavior points exist, which lead to a path of why we do what we do in life (both good and bad). In one example, he discusses a survey the YMCA conducted to glean an understanding of how the organization can stay relevant and competitive. Leading up to the survey, executives believed the latest equipment and modern facilities were what members wanted. Instead, the findings connected membership retention and gym usage directly to emotional factors, like a sense of belonging, knowing people at the gym, others knowing their name, and a human connection with people around them while working out. It turns out, its less about the facilities and more about social interaction. The book framed these findings as social habits.
While combing through online sentiment and social media comments last fall for one of the restaurant groups Morgan & Co. works with, we stumbled across quite the nugget of insight. One social media post from a potential customer in the primary audience segment we created reached out to the establishment with a question. “Do you have TVs and will you be showing the Saints game?” It’s a fairly benign question as the timeframe being the fall, and New Orleans a big football town.
The knee-jerk reaction was to pounce on the fact that the audience segment was seeking a place to watch the game. So why not promote all football games or the number of TVs in the establishment, right? The place will be packed!
Not so fast. Other research revealed that this audience already had access to such TV programming through streaming services. They were not lacking the means to watch the game. Instead, they were lacking the social connection their personality needs for such experiences. Just like the YMCA and the fancy new equipment, it’s not about the TV, but the social habit.
HOW STRATEGY FITS IN
By now you’re wondering why the title of this blog references strategy, when up until now, audience has been the theme. The truth is, audience is strategy. And most definitely media strategy. You see, the planners at Morgan & Co. look to audience analysis for insight. Usually hidden between the lines (like the two examples above), insight reveals opportunities. In the restaurant case above, the solution wasn’t to hang more TVs throughout the dining room and bar area. Far from it. Instead, it became to provide a social environment where similarly wired people can congregate and share the experience of watching the Saints game, together. They are yearning for an emotional connection and a sense of belonging. With that, the strategy becomes the means to which we connect the right people (not the masses) to this unique environment and experience, which ultimately fuels their mind and personal needs.
From this, our planner’s strategic marching orders were not about speaking to the football fans, as they can watch the game from their couch and be completely content. And most definitely NOT to plan out media channels that speak of how the restaurant will have all the big games on TV during the season. Or even utilize media outlets (digital or offline) that reach the masses, possibly with an efficient CPM.
Instead, the strategy sought a refined sub-segment of people who thrive on sharing experiences, being part of something larger than one. This group of people base decisions and, in the case of our client, dining and entertainment on the social setting and how it makes them feel. Its less about the perceived activity, and more about the manner in which it takes place. Find those individuals and remind them that your business offers what they’re seeking. And more so, find the media channels that shape their lives, steer them to their habits, and those channels used to plan their calendar. From that, the media strategy and channel plan will begin to evolve.
Media strategy is not about putting media channels on a flow chart or media plan. It’s a complex process that takes components like insight, the customer journey, audience segmentation into the equation. From there a strategy, not a media plan, drives the means of connecting the brand and ideal customers. If your brand is in need of a strategy built on a solid foundation, contact Morgan & Co. Strategy is at the core of our approach to media buying and delivering proven results to our clients.