Customer Experience Innovation Blog with Toni Newman

You Talkin’ to Me?


Did you know that the word itchy actually makes you itchy?

Or, that you see better when you are afraid?

Or for that matter, (my apologies to the sensitive in advance), that you fart a balloon’s worth of gas in a day?

If you did know these things, you and I may need to have a long chat over a glass of wine about how you spend your spare time.

If you didn’t, I’m relieved.  I wouldn’t have wanted to be the only one who was blissfully unaware of these rather unusual and yet strangely fascinating nibbles of knowledge.

I must say, however, that my education regarding some of the more outrageous facts of life was kicked into high gear recently by a rather unusual teacher – the brilliant ad campaign for Vancouver based museum and family attraction Science World.

(Did you know that a sneeze can travel 12 feet and then hover menacingly for a full 3 hours?  Now that’s an Unexpected Encounter(TM).)

Since 2009, Science World and their brilliant ad agency Rethink Canada have come up with close to 50 different Unexpected Encounter(TM) Touchpoint  Experiences. Each series promotes some pretty uncanny facts – such as a cockroach can live for nine day without its head –  combined with the slogan “We can explain.”

Although some of the different campaigns target an adult audience – such as the series of ads to promote the human sexuality exhibit – most of the experiences have clearly been designed to speak to children.  Or at least to the curious child still lurking inside most of us.

Would some adults find a sidewalk soft drink dispenser with a sign that says “You swallow a litre of snot every day” a little gross? Maybe.  Does Science World care what adults think?  Not at all. Science World isn’t talking to us and they know it.  Not only are they crystal clear on who their target audience is, they are also fanatically focused on speaking their language.

Are you fanatically focused on speaking the language of your target audience?  Or, in the words of the great Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) in Taxi Driver, is your target market left wondering “You Talkin’ to Me?”

Innovation Insight – You Talkin’ to Me?

When we work with our clients to craft Innovative Touchpoint Experiences, the first step is to clarify the strategic objective.  In most cases, the goal is to influence a specific target audience to change their behaviour so that the client can accomplish their strategic objective.

For example, in a recent workshop, one of the participants owned a bakery.  Her goal was to influence more local customers to buy more of their regular baked goods from her bakery more often so that the bakery could maintain sales during the slower off-season months.

In another example, one of our clients – a large food services organization – wanted to influence a specific and unique segment of their customer base to increase their purchases of our client’s products and services.

Whatever the objective, two things are certain. If you wish to accomplish your objectives, no only do you need to know your target audience, you need to know how to speak their language.

Here are three simple steps that you can implement to ensure that your target audience will never have to ask “You Talkin’ to Me?”  

1. Clarify your Target Audience

The more specific you can be about the group whose behaviour you are attempting to influence, the more you will increase your probability of success. The narrower the focus the better.

For example, when the Quebec government recently announced its intention to disallow public servants from wearing any outward signs of religious affiliation such as head coverings and jewelry, the Lakeridge Health Hospital in Ontario ran an ad with a photo of a female medical professional with a head covering. The caption read, “We don’t care what’s on your head. We care what’s in it.”  The ad was clearly directed at female medical professionals of the Muslim faith. (And in my humble opinion, was absolutely brilliant!)

In Spain, the ANAR Foundation for abused children created an outdoor billboard with two messages.  One that could be seen by adults, and the other – the number for an emergency help line – that could only be seen by people who were under the average height of a 10 year old child.  That way, if the child was walking with their abuser, they could see the life saving information but their abuser could not.  Now that’s Fanatical Focus.

Sometimes, your target audience is everyone within a specific geographical location.  Denver Water has done some great campaigns that appear in different locations all over the city.  Their brilliant Use Only What You Need campaign features benches missing part of the seat, billboards missing most of the billboard and bus signs missing several letters. The message is consistent and it is everywhere – because everywhere is where their target audience hangs out.

Are you still trying to speak to all of your different markets at once or are you ready to narrow it down and talk to one group at a time?


2.  Understand your Target Audience

Now that you know who your audience is, you need to find out as much about them as you can.  What motivates them? Where do they go for work and/or play? What keeps them up at night?  And most importantly, what words and emotions are strong enough to inspire them to act?

The Army Special Forces placed a huge sign with the words Take A Brochure high up on a tall building because the type of person that they wanted to attract would actually think about climbing that building to get the brochure.

The Salvation Army launched a new date on the calendar – Ex-Valentine’s Day. The slogan was “Too bad it’s over.  But since it’s over, donate.”  Aimed at women who find themselves with a closet full of their ex’s clothing when a relationship ends badly, the video features a man’s necktie crooning to some other items of men’s clothing. Suddenly, a young woman grabs him by the neck, tosses him not so gently into a box of giveaways and then throws her wedding ring in on top of him.  Ouch.  Talk about understanding your target audience.

Knowing how difficult the pizza ordering process can be for pizza lovers in Dubai, Red Tomato Pizza created the Push For Hunger fridge magnet that bypasses the need for regular customers to call their order in once they have registered their regular order online.  Push the button and your pizza arrives at your door 30 minutes later. A pizza lover’s dream.

What do you know about your target audience(s)?  Do you really know or are you just guessing?  Research them.  Observe them.  Talk to them.  In this case, knowledge really is power.

3.  Create for your Target Audience

Okay.  You know who they are and you know what they’re thinking. Now it’s time to create an experience that is specifically designed for your target audience. Now is the time to speak their language.

When Istanbul based Berrge Tattoo Parlor ran a newspaper ad for a new tattoo artist, they included a rather unusual QR code.  Applicants needed to carefully fill in the image of the QR code to show off their drawing skills and then send in their work to access the application form.

When Africa Health Placements wanted to influence more foreign doctors to work in Africa, they created an audio message that could only be heard with a stethoscope, turning something that every doctor has into a personal listening device.

And when Quebec charity organization l’Accueil Bonneau wanted to persuade Montreal’s business elite and hunting enthusiasts to attend a fundraising event, the invitation came in the form of a hunting bullet with the message “This bullet could save lives.” Over $65,000 was raised.

What type of experience will compel your target audience to act?  What can you do to speak their language? How can you demonstrate that you “get them”?

1. Identify your Target Audience
2. Understand your Target Audience
3. Create for your Target Audience.

Three simple steps that can ensure that your target audience won’t be left asking “You Talkin’ to Me?”

As for me, I would love to hear any thoughts or comments that you have on this month’s newsletter.  And yes, I am Talkin’ to You!

See you at the Top of the Ladder.

Until then, Imagine the Possibilities!

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