Relationships between people evolve over time through many lightweight interactions. You meet a new girl through common friends, you greet, but you don’t notice her name, as you are busy presenting yourself. A brief conversation takes place before you’re interrupted or run out of topics to talk about. You meet her again through your common friends, you talk some more and learn that you have a common interest, skiing. Meanwhile you desperately hope that someone will address her by name before you end up in that awkward situation where it’s revealed that you don’t know. Next time you meet her you’re skiing together with your circle of friends and the time after that you’re skiing just the two of you. A relationship is built through multiple lightweight interactions.
I would argue that relationships between people and brands are most effectively built in the same way. Lightweight interactions over time.
Many brands have built great relationships with their customers, but as tools and channels have been limited, they’ve done it in what we today must consider to be hard way. Relationships have been built through one-way communication pushing a specific message, optimizing based on reach and frequency. Time specific campaigns placed at strategic weeks throughout the year. It worked and still does, no doubt about it, but it’s heavyweight and far from how humans build relationships. With the rapid emergence of new marketing channels I’m convinced that brands would benefit from moving away from a heavyweight, campaign focused, one-way communication and adapt an approach with more frequent, but lighter interactions similar to how we as people interact.
First, our perceived lack of time suggests that we don’t have time for heavyweight anymore. We evaluate what we choose to do (or see) based on time commitment. Everything else equal, the lower the perceived time commitment, the more likely you are to capture the consumer’s attention and get your message across. So instead of creating immersive experiences where the consumer have to commit tens of seconds (or even several minutes) of their time, how about dividing that experience up in smaller chunks and ask for a few seconds multiple times over a longer period of time? This way you are able to reach the same person several times with different stories that are 1. less intrusive 2. closer to how individuals communicate. You ask for less (each time) and get more (combined).
An individual’s purchase process is complex and most often demands multiple touch points before a purchase is made. Whether it takes 5 or 10 or 20 touch points on average will depend on what you’re selling and how well you take care of the attention you get at each touch point. But no matter what you’re selling, frequency matters. That doesn’t mean you have to repeat “I’m better than my competitor” 10 times over. Instead, try to tell different stories that convey the same fundamental message that you want to get across. Same message, different wrapping.
I’m not saying that people don’t want experiences that capture their attention for a longer period of time. I’ll be the first person to say that I love a good distraction during my workday even though it messes up my focus. Big heavy pieces of content that engulfs my time. A heavy app, or an extended video commercial, a good blog post or perhaps even an advertorial. And I’m not even going to attempt to take a jab at TV. It works, period. So at Venture Factory we do this as well. We build apps, run advertorials and we’ll probably do TV eventually. However, with limited resources we’ll always prioritize or efforts where we believe we can get the most out of every dollar and every hour at the office. And that’s by spending the majority of our time creating lightweight interactions.