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Stop counting impressions. Make one.

By Dan Barczak

Two weeks ago, we had the privilege of speaking at the D2 Conference in Cincinnati hosted by the AAF and the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, focused on today’s Digital Dialogue and the Art + Science of Customer-First Digital Communication. Two days of speakers, panels and dialogue exploring how savvy marketers are connecting the art of paid advertising to the science of engagement marketing, in order to reach the individual level of communication with customers.

Much of our work here at Hyperquake is rooted in articulating human insights in some way, regardless of the output. Whether we’re designing and building a new website, a consumer product/package, sales tools, an immersive installation, a campaign, or a complete brand strategy and identity evolution – it’s all rooted in human insights and understanding a dialogue with a business and brand’s consumers, customers, and fans. We quite often hear this from our clients: “I don’t need more ideas….I’ve got plenty of ideas. What I need is a partner to help me sift through all of this data to actually create something meaningful, something relevant. I need help finding the insights behind all of this data to inspire and drive change.”

This is why Sherwood MacVeigh, our Director of Strategy, and I titled our talk, “Stop counting impressions. Make one.” Know why you are, so you can better connect with shared values. There are plenty of businesses today that talk to their customers, but the ones that do it right have a real, honest dialogue with them – one rooted in shared values that matter to people.

As part of our talk, we spoke to a breakout group of about 70 people, who were all there for different reasons – from Chief Marketing Officers running the marketing operations for their organization to students eager to understand more about their young career options and how they can impact a business with their drive to think differently. We joked about how today’s digital dialogue between businesses and customers is a bit like online dating – tons of data, profiles, both meaningful and meaningless connections, and different ways to have a dialogue – from Match (“Do you believe what I believe?”), to Tinder (“Try me, I’m right here.”), and even Ashley Madison (“How loyal are you? Can I get you to cheat on your other brand?”). We are inundated with brands constantly trying to connect with us and build a meaningful relationship with us.

“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

As Amazon’s Jeff Bezos once said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” What impression do you actually leave people with? What does your brand’s dialogue truly say about your business? People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.

We then took them through a few examples of how we at Hyperquake find shared values through dialogue to create work that evolves how people look at your business – from our work with the Always team to realize that everything they do centers around one word – empowerment – to our work with the Cincinnati Reds and the Chicago Tribune to change the way they think about their customers. We often do this by first taking piles of data and consumer research to create personas that bring the data to life, in a way that we can actually relate to and ideate from. Creating personas is a great way to get a business to truly understand how, and, more importantly, why, they connect differently with different audiences.

For example, if a legendary newspaper is trying to evolve with customers who don’t want to pay for digital news subscriptions, they need to understand what they can offer besides “10-day trials” and “$2.50 unlimited access.” They must be able to connect on an emotional level with things their different audiences care about – from loyal customers who want their Sunday paper, to families who want to know what’s going on in their town and how they can raise their family in their community, to tech-savvy teens who “snack” on news constantly and quickly, sharing what’s important to them.

It’s one thing to be able to sift through piles of data to create insights that matter, insights rooted in shared values. It’s another thing to figure out, “What the hell are we going to do with these insights?” That’s where we come in. We design experiences around them; we build and evolve businesses around them; and we create a meaningful dialogue with them. Whether you’re a giant snack company everyone knows and trusts, to a professional sports team competing more than ever with new entertainment options in town, to a tech startup building their community from the ground up, or a small wealth management firm trying to figure out how to reach a new audience of younger customers who think differently about money than their parents – finding shared values and having a real (digital) dialogue is where we start.

Until we know why we exist as a business, not just what we do, it’s hard to have a dialogue.

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