Many companies leverage their audience’s feelings in their advertising, hoping to capitalize on their customers’ passions or beliefs to sell their product. Unfortunately, we’ve all seen advertisements that didn’t go over well, or that received the opposite reaction to what was intended. While mistakes do happen, this generally is a sign that a brand doesn’t fully understand its target audience or their feelings about a particular subject or event.
When preparing for an ad campaign, however, there are steps you can take to ensure you’re being more cognizant of your audience’s feelings ahead of time, so fewer mistakes are made. These eight experts from Ad Age Collective have spent countless hours analyzing their audiences for their own brands. Here, they offer valuable insight into what businesses should be doing to be more aware of their audience’s emotions.
1. Start by hiring more diverse people.
The problem starts when people creating an advertisement do not have any association with the target audience. To avoid getting online backlash from poorly written ads, you need to start by hiring a more diverse group of people. And not only that, but you also have to listen to them. Try to involve people from your target audience in creative works to prevent poor responses to your ads. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
2. Research your front-end market and demographic.
Put as much effort into your front-end market and consumer demographic research as possible, then test your copy with a small audience to identify any potential pitfalls before you go wide with a launch. This will ensure you have a strong, positive response from consumers when you fully launch and will reduce wasted marketing spend. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising
3. Start with empathy.
It sounds simple, but marketers need to get into the habit of seeing customers as humans — not computers. Empathy is just as valuable a skill as data analysis in the industry. Being able to put yourself in the customer’s shoes to determine pain points and relationships to the brand is vital to meeting them where they’re at and positioning your company as the solution. – Kelly Ehlers, Ideas That Evoke
4. Find a left-brained person.
Marketers are “right brain,” so find a “left-brain” person. It’s challenging to know how an ad will be interpreted. Even within one audience, opinions can vary substantially. Given marketers’ inclination toward right-brain thinking, an easy-to-implement practice is routing potential ads to a trusted source within your company who is a left-brain thinker (engineering or operations team members are my personal favorites). – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap
5. Show your work to the skeptics.
Sometimes creatives fall in love with a clever idea that’s completely tone-deaf. This happens most frequently with attempts at humor or when trying to connect to something noteworthy happening in society. Before you push play, show your work to the skeptics — in your office, your home, your neighborhood. Or imagine you’re a journalist reporting on your ad. What would the snarky headline be? – Todd Morgano, Falls
6. Write your content with your audience.
Write your content with your audience, not for your audience. At least one member of the team creating the ad should be part of the target audience. If this isn’t possible, conducting a focus group might be the next best option. But it will save time and energy if your audience is there from the start. – Holly Fearing, Filene Research Institute
7. Don’t forget to always circle back before release.
Many of these situations won’t show up in the quantitative metrics because they are contextual in nature. Oftentimes, the qualitative research is done upfront, but with the long lead times of some campaigns, it’s a good idea to circle back just before release. Minimally, have people who are not connected to the campaign look at it for cultural sensitivity. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)
8. Conduct concept testing and scenario planning.
As part of the strategy, it’s imperative to conduct scenario planning when more than one reaction is possible. Conducting concept testing to get a gauge of audience acceptance, analyze risk, form a crisis management plan and have an alternate set of assets and proactive messaging ready to go in the tool kit can avoid a brand debacle or a PR nightmare. – Raashee Gupta Erry, UPLEVEL – Digital Media Consulting