Consumers live in an increasingly fluid and unpredictable world of messages and other influences that surround them all the time. No-one is ultimately in control of it; Marketers aren’t, but they still need to communicate. What if we start with a new idea? What communications ideas would that generate? What would be the benefit to brands?
“The Cloud” is a metaphor for understanding the clutter and turbulence of this world and the reality of what it means for communications effectiveness. It encourages us to think in fresh terms about how to communicate to Cloud-enveloped consumers.
Clutter and Turbulence
Clutter is the high volume of brand messages and other influences in The Cloud. People have become acclimatized to this clutter; they have mastered the art of selective attention, identifying bits of relevance amid the noise and ignoring the rest. The more clutter, the harder it is for an ad to stand out, but advertising that resonates with its intended audience can significantly outperform weaker competition.
Turbulence is the disruption caused by uncontrollable interruptions to a brand’s conversation with its audience. In the past, advertisers followed similar messaging plans across the same territories and time frames. Today, the spread of messaging is diversified over a wider range of time and touch points. Additionally, consumer utilization of social and search media can lead to an encounter with a new idea or a competitive message at any point.
Marketers can succeed in this new world, but success requires focusing on The Cloud in which today’s consumers exist. The pressure a brand exerts on any one person’s Cloud depends on the frequency and resonance of its contacts. Ensuring your brand comes easily to mind and effectively communicating your meaningful difference is critical to standing out in the clutter and being resilient to the turbulence of The Cloud.
New Communications Principles
Understand the Attitudinal Backdrop
Strong brands need to stand for something, but in The Cloud, even strong brands can lose their clarity. As marketers focus on making connections with individuals, they should remember that consumers synthesize new brand impressions with the prevailing associations in their heads. Understanding the attitudinal backdrop – people’s emotions toward, knowledge of, and experiences with a brand – is critical to resonating with consumers.
Be there wherever and whenever sought
The more often people make intentional contact with a brand, the better off the brand will be – as long as it meets expectations after it has been sought out. One of marketing’s biggest financial crimes is for a brand not to “be there” when and where people are looking for it.
Plan for Meaningful Coincidences
All other contacts are not sought and are essentially “co-incidences” that the marketer needs to make meaningful. As such, Marketers need to understand people’s lives and find moments when people are “open” to the brand and when the brand’s communications could be relevant.
Maximize Every Contact
The chances of one contact – like a TV ad, or search result, or sales call – being “game-changing” among Cloud enveloped consumers is slim, so influence is more likely to come from numerous small nudges. Marketing should help consumers piece together an overall view of the brand from a long series of impressions. The challenge is to ensure that any combination of elements will be effective, and that any gaps in exposure will not be too detrimental. Each impression must stay true to the core idea of the brand and must be designed to prime and recruit other impressions in The Cloud.
Share of The Cloud
Cloud thinking embraces the complexity of the present and future communications world. It encourages marketing that is creative, connected, and bold, and enables brands to make solid and genuine connections with consumers in an environment that is constantly in flux. Through Cloud thinking, brands can grow their share of The Cloud and build the strong, long-lasting consumer relationships that lead to financial success.