Human Evidence

by Jessica Ramesh Spinnaker

Robert Goldsmith, Managing Partner at Spinnaker, on why evidence-driven marketing can help humanise your brand

For many years scientists, archaeologists and conservationists have looked to make sense of everything from dinosaur remains to fossils to animal behaviour. Patterns, profiles and species interaction have been analysed to provide pointers to our own evolution and the ways in which we can co-exist with animals.

Human behaviour has also been studied, shedding light on how communities have learned to evolve and adapt to each other and changing dynamics. Psychologists and anthropologists continually pore over trends and statistics to enable the very best ways in which we can learn about each other and the intricate machinations of the human brain. Papers and books, such as Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, provide valuable insights into the ways in which we make decisions and process information. All of which is hugely valuable to advertisers and brands looking to engage with consumers in the most meaningful and effective ways.

No-one would dispute the importance of humanising a brand. It is common sense (if not common practice) that brands should seek to be contextual, relevant and human. We should strive to present a brand’s benefits in ways that are reflective of the human lives that we want to be a part of. A simple aim but often hard to put into practice, and made harder still when we do not look to the evidence that surrounds us. Evidence that is in abundance in the digital space.

It is stunning just how much behavioural insight is on offer to us through the human interaction that happens every second online across websites and social communities. Just as the bushman tracks the lion’s footprints to determine size, direction and even state of health, so too must we look to the imprints that humans make online.

Heat mapping on websites, visitor analytics, interaction with content served across owned, earned and paid media all provide indicators on what we should post where and when. In addition we are blessed with the exciting potential that comes with listening. It always amazes me how some marketers continue to commit slavishly to the traditional consumer research model of focus groups and depth interviews whilst ignoring the unprompted and less artificial environments of blogs, micro-blogs, forums and social pages. There is space for both forms of insight discovery and indeed some traditional research methods lend themselves more readily to particular situations, aims and objectives. But the gold dust that is available online for small change can deliver the insight that can change the shape of a brand and/or the ways in which it communicates.

With emphasis on evidence-driven marketing we can deliver immediate and genuine human insights. Insights that display concerns, barriers, opportunities and feelings of warmth, love, like and dislike towards brands, categories, situations, events and occasions. We can respond with speed to situations that keep us in step with real-time human situations. And we can take these patterns into deeper analysis that help us with brand positioning and overarching communication strategies. We can learn what ideas people respond favourably to and we can learn what they will be willing to share. As with our day to day personal interaction, the more we listen the more we will be listened to.

Moving into this sphere of evidence-driven human marketing sounds exciting but can appear daunting. It doesn’t have to be. It needs careful planning but it is simple, and once embarked upon, as long as the appropriate tools are selected (there are many to choose from) and the reporting, analysis and dashboards are well designed and in line with determined commercial and marketing objectives, then the output will be intoxicating. Not just for the marketing team but to many other divisions and skill-sets within a company, from the sales team to the R&D team to customer service and the board. Its use and effectiveness can also be quickly and cost efficiently tested.

Digital, evidence-driven marketing does not sound sexy but the best and most human forms of marketing will not exist without it. The evidence process enables well targeted, creative freewheeling to deliver those wonder moments. Wonder moments that are all about interactive and engaging creative ideas versus the one way street approach that is still all too common. This new form of human creativity uses technology, platforms and innovation in order to be part of everyday consumer life. It is about creativity that forms relationships.

Brand humanisation must be the vision and just as anthropologists use all the evidence that is available, so too must the marketer. The digital space has never offered up so much opportunity. It’s time to embrace it.