Every year, brands spend the equivalent of 5-10% of their gross revenue from the previous year on marketing efforts.  No matter the size of the business, the allotted budget for marketing is rather substantial and so naturally, executives and business owners expect to see a return on their investment.

The ever-changing marketing landscape and the availability and accessibility of different kinds of marketing channels have provided numerous new ways for businesses to reach a now always-connected audience. However, it has also stiffened the competitive landscape and has made it more challenging for brands to gain cut-through and stand out among the ‘noise’, to gain and retain customers. We see brands that listen to their customers and adapting to changing needs and expectations thriving and remaining timeless (for example, just look at how LEGO has adapted both its product and marketing strategies to specifically target its growing adult fan-base). Meanwhile, brands that fail to listen and adapt, quickly become irrelevant in a market full of brands willing to match changing consumer behaviour.

Many of these brands that are continuing to grow and maintain relevance in the market, share a common ability to emotionally connect with their primary audience and provide a personalised experience that resonates with their customers. In the report Ranking Emotional Connection: A Look at 50 of the Top U.S. Brands, BMW, Disney, Marriott, Panera Bread, and Wynn Resorts top the list of the most emotionally connected brands, all of which are “relentless in their pursuit to deliver a constant customer experience, motivating the precise emotions that determine a customer’s behaviour”.

What does this mean? Essentially, to win your customers’ dollars, you must first win their heart.

However, achieving an emotional connection with your customers takes time. A substantial amount of research around the customer, development or refinement of messages, and strategic planning of marketing activities need to be undertaken to be able to achieve and develop the following.

1. A complete and total understanding of the customer

To be able to really resonate with your customers, it is pertinent that you have a complete understanding of who they are, what drives or motivates them, and how they behave and interact within the context of your brand. A clear understanding of your target market will enable you to customise your messages and engage with them on the most appropriate marketing channels.

Identification of your Target Market and Customer Segments

To begin, you will need to define your target market by first identifying who the business best caters to (you might work with a wide range of customers, but who do you service best?). From here, your identified target market can be categorised into groups. For each group, list down their common demographics, such as their age, gender, marital status, educational attainment, occupation, etc.

Create Target Market Profiles

From the identified customer segments, determine your priority segment/s. Choosing the top one or two customer segments to focus on will enable you to manage your resources more efficiently to deliver the greatest return. For each priority segment, identify the customer goals, motivations, and pain points. If information on your customer segments is not readily available, a survey, focus group discussion, or in-depth interview may be conducted to gain first-hand insights and data.

Map out the Purchase Journey for your Customer Segments

Taking a step further, identify the thoughts, feelings, and touch points of each customer segment at each stage of their journey from initial awareness through to purchase decision and on to loyalty and advocacy. This exercise will provide you with valuable insights into the messages that will likely resonate with your customers, as well as the most appropriate channels across which to deliver these – to deliver the right message on the right platform, at the right time.

2. Value Propositions that make a lasting impact.

Once you have gained a clear understanding of your target market, you need to refine your value propositions. Your value propositions need to address how your product/service meets the needs and desires of your identified target segments, as well as how or why your products/services are different or better compared to those offered by similar businesses. Based on the needs, thoughts, feelings of your customers, develop messages that communicate what they need to hear and what they want to hear to really tug at their heartstrings and make that connection.

3. Personalised messages delivered at the correct channels at the right time

Customers at different stages of the customer journey engage with a brand across multiple different touchpoints. At each touchpoint, customers are searching for answers to satisfy their information requirements at that moment. During these moments, it is crucial to communicate the messages that will have the most impact and encourage the customer to progress closer to the end of the sales funnel.

Nowadays, it’s not enough for brands to be simply visible with a set-and-forget approach to customer engagement and market strategies. To make a meaningful impact in the eyes of the customer and convert them into advocates of your brand, it is essential to understand your customer completely to be able to design and deliver a truly seamless and personalised experience. Once you have achieved a strong emotional connection and have earned their trust, it will then be important to nurture that relationship.