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How to Analyze the Customer Behind the Brief

By Jack Schuleman, Senior Copywriter

If you’re trying to sell me a car, I’m much more than the characteristics that comprise me — a late 20s gender-identified male, urban dweller, holder of a corporate job that makes a certain income percentile. Thinking more deeply about my lifestyle, I’m somebody who values expression and has limited parking options. Add that up, and I’ll respond better to an ad for a small and interesting vehicle versus something like a standard midsize sedan, which would be the easy out for somebody with my job and age demographic.

Marketing segmentations and personality profiles are helpful in our line of work, but only so much so. The above example highlights the importance of understanding the person behind the creative brief, something everyone in marketing should aspire to do. After all, how do you talk to somebody without knowing who they are? What really makes them tick? Based on a few key demographics, you might think I want to buy an SUV. You are wrong — and fail to earn my business as a result.

When you figure out who a person is, you can communicate with them so much easier than just taking a sweeping stab in the dark. We’re given key data points, sure, but painting a full picture makes for a much richer experience for everybody involved.

How, then, can brands effectively gather and analyze information about the person behind the brief?

One Million Possibilities

You need to take into account a handful of considerations when peeling back the customer curtain. First and foremost, learn how your potential and actual users interact with the world.

Each one of us is ultimately the culmination of a million little experiences, and all those experiences can be tapped into. It’s less about asking questions of a person and more about assembling the puzzle pieces in front of you, which will be different every time.

If somebody took a box of colored tiles and dumped it in front of you, you could arrange it as a rainbow, you could build it randomly, you could make a number of things with it. Analyzing the information properly is what separates the beginning of great creative from mediocre, and there’s simply no one-size-fits-all solution to that.

If there were “one true answer” to this question, we’d never have to research anything ever again. And most of us would be out of jobs.

Making Content Resonate

To understand a person and flesh out their lifestyle, brands can employ a couple of specific strategies.

  1. Be a vigilant citizen of the world. I love watching people in stores and seeing what they’re buying, especially in places where there are a zillion options for the same thing (like grocery stores). Also being able to communicate with people and make small talk with them reveals a lot about their preferences — especially important when paired with a diverse set of people to talk to. Every data point adds richness to the story.
  2. Consider the so-called mundane actions in a person’s life. I like to think about where people live, how they get around, and how they like to spend their free time. Somebody who lives in a dense urban environment but still chooses to drive to a restaurant tells a lot about a person — just like somebody who lives in a far-flung suburb but rides a bike to a movie.

Here at RAPP, we’ve facilitated vehicle launches for Toyota where seeing alternate paths to the vehicle allows for more interesting work, better reflecting how people use their cars and how they like to see themselves in them. The same goes for McDonald’s — we did new product launches that really hit the heartstrings of what people loved about a brand they have such deep relationships with.

 

This deeper dive into a consumer’s psyche helps shape more relatable and successful communications. Working for well-known brands can make it easy to fall into a rut of standardized ideas, especially with such famous and loved products. But when you look deeper into how people actually interact with the products and brands, you avoid taking shortcuts and make harder-hitting work in the process.