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Finding Clarity in a World of Consumer Journey Jargon

Let's get back to simple thinking

Recently, I was lucky enough to be invited to speak to Ireland’s digital marketing community at the 3XE Search & Social Media conference, alongside some top names from Ireland and around the world. With expert speakers covering everything from programmatic advertising to digital creativity, there was a huge amount of knowledge to take in and a steep learning curve for all delegates!

With that in mind, I set out to have a discussion that would help the audience to string all their newfound knowledge together. At Huskies, I work at the convergence of planning, search, social, technical and creative – it’s my role to ensure that the overall approach to digital for every client actually makes sense, and to make sure our channel selections and tactics are laddering up to achieving our objectives. Key to this is understanding the overall consumer journey, and the role we play within it. Once you have that understanding, it’s a hell of a lot easier to map your channels and plan your campaigns. So, to complement the conference theme, I set about imparting a bit of consumer journey wisdom and (hopefully) aid everyone in understanding a simpler way to approach channel planning.

Screen Shot 2016-10-18 at 12.16.02First, a quick recap on what a consumer journey actually is – a simple definition would be that it’s the sum of experiences that consumers (or as I like to call them, humans) go through when they interact with your brand. It doesn’t focus in on one interaction – it’s the sum of all parts. In the pre-digital world, this was a lot simpler – there was a tried and tested formula that advertisers used, combining TV, Radio, Outdoor and Press, with great sales expertise at the end of the funnel. And that was working… okay (ish). But then along came the web, and life got a lot more complicated. Communications formats now multiply at an unforeseen rate, and advertisers are trying to adapt daily to new trends and reach people across new platforms! Old-school advertisers just didn’t have to deal with the myriad of channels and touchpoints that we have today. And if you’re responsible for marketing a brand, this can be pretty overwhelming (especially with executives and agencies whispering in your ear about the many tactics you should be using and trends you should be adopting).

In their Getting Digital Right study, Millward Brown found that “Marketers identified planning across consumer touchpoints as their #1 pain point in 2015” – and I don’t find that surprising. But I do question it. Have we made the process of planning and mapping our consumer journeys, channels and touchpoints too complicated? And, as we hear more and more these days – should the answer not just be to add a dash of simplicity?

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Seeking some inspiration on how to explain the simplicity that can be brought to consumer journeys, I gathered some words of wisdom from some of the industry’s great thinkers. Here are my top three picks, and they’re well worth a look:

 - Understand Strategy vs Planning – Antonis Kochielas – Shaving Complicatedness Clean

 - Understand that not every touchpoint or channel serves the same purpose for our consumer – this doesn’t need to be complicated! For example, consider that “Facebook is for emotion, Google is for intent” – Check out Scott Galloway’s video blogs from L2Inc on the subject.

 - Think ‘human to human’. Put yourself in their shoes! – Leo Burnett said it best; "The work of an advertising agency is warmly and immediately human. It deals with human needs, wants, dreams and hopes. Its 'product' cannot be turned out on an assembly line."

The overall thinking here is that simplicity can be found in basic human thinking and understanding of human behaviour. Take away the complicated details and the buzzwords – digital, traditional, or the grey parts in between. What is your target human thinking at any time across their journey? What are they likely to reach for first? If you can brainstorm your thoughts and then map a touchpoint journey out on one page, then you’re off to a flying start.

Screen Shot 2016-10-18 at 12.17.09So does this kind of consumer journey planning help? Well, when we were challenged with developing new models for Fáilte Ireland, we applied this kind of technique to map the many digital touchpoints a tourist might use to plan and research their holiday. The result? A comprehensive digital strategy for Fáilte Ireland that has succeeded in achieving unparalleled results and has raised share of voice over competitor destinations. And it’s simply down to human thinking.

Check out the presentation:

Transforming How Irish Tourism Communicates: Huskies & Fáilte Ireland from In The Company Of Huskies on Vimeo.