Archive for February, 2023

The power of inviting everyone in.

Friday, February 10th, 2023

For a couple of years way back in the seventies there were basically two tribes in the UK.  You were punk or you were not.  The Sex Pistols were storming the charts despite being banned (or arguably because they were banned), and the simple addition of a dog collar – that is a collar for a dog, not the thing vicars sport – or a safety pin to an otherwise boring outfit or school uniform broadcast your allegiance to society.

It didn’t last long.  To quote the much lamented and missed Vivienne Westwood: “punk collapsed with the death of Sid Vicious in 1979”.  After that you might be punk-ish, or new romantic-ish or rave-ish but style and music were not as polarised.

This came to mind when I heard an agency ceo recently refer to the tribal nature of Great Britain, and suggest that the divisions were deeper now than ever.

Not as deep as the summer of 77!  Watch Danny Boyd’s Sex Pistols for an accurate evocation of the summer of the Jubilee and the release and the banning of God Save the Queen. And despite all the divisions of recent years, the nation is united now in a storm of indignation about real issues: climate crises, cost of living crises and the NHS; even if the ideas about solutions are divided by politics.

Back to our business: I have never been a fan of media tribes: over engineered clusters of consumers to differentiate targeting. 

As a woman at work, who is also a mum, a daughter, a sister, in a relationship, a home owner,  a main shopper, an author and a lover of music, art, theatre and Marvel movies I have never felt like I belonged to any segment that I have heard talked about by clever planners dissecting media tribes.  Depending on category, time of day/week/month and mood I can represent some of the characteristics of “Savvy Sarah”, “Cautious Catherine”, “Trendy Tina”, “Dynamic Dave” and “Geeky Gertie” all at the same time, and so of course can you.  Better now of course to allow digital real time data drive your insights rather than solely to rely on statements of intent or past history.   Be more Byron and make your audience anyone who has a wallet.  He writes: “Sophisticated mass marketing doesn’t mean targeting everyone, nor does it mean treating everyone the same. It means …catering for only the differences that matter … This is hugely different from deciding that your brand can’t appeal to a large part of the market – a surprisingly defeatist strategy that hides under the title of “target marketing”, and (leads to the) result ..that the brand’s target audience is less than a fifth of the people who actually buy the brand and category.”

How much do you really need to segment, and exclude people from your brand communications?

My co-authors and I have written about Belonging in the workplace as the most successful way to encourage inclusion, diversity, creativity and strong teams at work.  Belonging can also be a communications strategy. 

No brand can afford to seek to shun potential buyers (unless their strategy is highly premium and exclusive).  The opportunity for most brands is to invite everyone in.  Otherwise, it’s as if a major high street retailer or bank were to turn people away at the door for being too old, too young, or too different for what they were wearing.  Our Inclusive Planning practises have resulted in growth for many brands by speaking specifically and empathetically to certain cohorts of people.   EssenceMediacom’s Claire McAlpine championed this at Campaign’s Media360 conference last year. Of course the messaging needs to ensure that the product or service is relevant to the people you reach, but that’s about tailoring comms, not excluding people.

Of course, it is crucial to optimise media to drive returns, but in case after case we have seen plans that optimise to a sub optimal level by prioritising efficiency at the expense of growth.

In 2023 it is crucial to have a growth mentality at work.  If we are to rise to the top of the competitive set we must have an inclusive and belonging strategy to drive creativity, positivity and expansion.