What is this?

Signal planning is here to stay.

Rest in peace, demographics.

Signal planning is here to stay.
With limitless opportunities to consume media, your customers could be watching videos on YouTube, enjoying the current season of American Idol, or binging the latest Netflix series. They also have the ability to skip or block ads with DVRs or apps on their mobile devices. So it’s no surprise navigating the paid media landscape today can be overwhelming to modern marketers.

But the fragmented media landscape isn’t the only challenge being faced. Many brands still define their consumers based on demographics, the outdated metrics of age, gender, income, and education. The glaring problem with this longstanding approach is that it severely limits your ability to truly understand who your customers are and what motivates them to buy your products or services. 

Whether you’re the CMO of a Fortune 500 company or just launching your first small business, you should think twice about basing your efforts on this sort of oversimplified information. If your goal is to engage consumers at the right time and place, it’s time to finally put demographics out of their misery and embrace a better solution. Luckily, The Media Kitchen has a shiny new model to successfully help businesses, of every size, engage current and potential new customers in meaningful ways based on smart data. 

Welcome to the age of signal planning.

The concept is simple. In today’s world, every consumer gives off signals. They can be digital, from websites they’re visiting or content they’re sharing online. Or they can be non-digital, which includes things like running in Grandma’s marathon, attending an auto show, or even going up north to the cabin. You can use these signals to successfully decide when, where, and how to engage consumers.

First, prioritize strengthening connections with your current customers. After all, you already have positive relationships with them, and many are strong advocates for your brand. Behaviors like visiting your website or store, searching for your brand online, or attending your events, make their signals easy to identify.

Engaging with them can be as simple and low cost as developing an email database to send out branded content. Even with a small budget, you can synchronize this database with platforms like Facebook and Google to deliver the right offer at the right time. There are no budget minimums, and you can learn quickly what works and what doesn’t through simple A/B testing. 

Facebook ads are even able to inform you if someone who clicked on your ad came to your store and made a purchase. That’s a lot more sophisticated than blanket targeting everyone who falls within a generic set of demographics, wouldn’t you agree?

Beyond reaching current customers, you can also track signals from new prospects. These signals may include demonstrating an affinity for competitor brands by visiting their websites, liking them on Facebook, becoming a member of their loyalty club, or visiting their stores.

Signals can also reveal consumers’ life events such as marriages, moves, and new jobs. Remember: all these signals are actionable data points that can be used for targeting and messaging. 

Of course, not all signals are created equal. 

Keep in mind, of all the signals you are able to detect, some are stronger and more reliable than others. It’s important to ask yourself a few questions about the signals before using them to deploy targeted messaging. Like: “Is your media plan feasible, scalable, and cost-effective?” There’s no sense in targeting signals that only represent a few potential customers. 

Finally, all of this is only relevant if the outcomes are measurable and actionable. This means establishing goals for success upfront, and understanding which metrics you can measure before, during, and after your campaign. 

Most media partners will share industry benchmarks to see how your campaign stacks up. On the back end, you can also review engagement metrics to better understand how consumers acted when they came to your website or visited your store. 

Listening for and acting on the signals consumers give off every day has the power to accelerate measurable growth for any business. So, let’s talk. What are your customer’s signals?

Steve Wendling