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Context: It’s Everything!
We’ve been told: “You ask a lot of questions.” To which we’ve replied: “How would you quantify a lot of questions?”
Terrible joke aside, we acknowledge that we’re big question people at Simantel! In fact, all 3 of our recently promoted VPs gave some variation of that advice to new Simantelites coming into the agency!
It’s not because we’re nosy (well maybe some of us are), but because questions help us build critical context to be the best partner we can be. As marketers, context is the fuel to our fire. We even tell new employees in one of their earliest onboarding meetings that one of our values is curiosity: It helps you tell a killer story; it won’t kill you, you’re not a cat. It helps us create meaningful work, understand customer motivations to help drive desired behaviors, and know how best to help our clients meet their business goals.
So why does context matter? Why do our discovery meetings sometimes feel like an interview with a person so deeply interested in your business they might as well work there with you?
Because context is everything! Here are some of the ways we apply it to our work:
Understanding Your Business Needs
Every initiative is tied to a desired outcome. Whether that is to grow revenue, engage customers in specific actions, improve a product, improve an organizational process, or any other myriad of goals we’ve helped clients reach – knowing the desired outcome and how that ladders back up to an overarching business objective is critical to how we develop our approach.
Your goal is our north star, and it informs every recommendation and decision we make. It’s also a pretty dang critical component to all of our build plans as it informs our approach to tracking and measurement!
And oftentimes in the industries we serve, there are many different initiatives that are laddering up to a shared goal. Understanding division of responsibilities of teams, who the key players are within the organization that impact how work moves forward, and what known barriers are in play informs exactly how we go about formulating our recommendation.
Understanding Your Customer Motivations
We’re admittedly CX junkies. While we may start our discussion focused on understanding your customer segmentation for a specific initiative – our best insights that inform all our ideation from creative, to message, to activation channels often requires much richer comprehension of who your customer is than demographic and firmographic details can provide.
- What are your customer’s motivations?
- What perceptions do they have about your brand or specific products?
- What challenges are they facing in their day to day lives that your product or service impacts?
- What barriers exist that prevent them from engaging meaningfully with your brand?
There are hundreds – if not thousands – of touchpoints where your customer experiences your brand. It’s our job to figure those out and help you prioritize where we can make the biggest impact. Building an empathetic understanding of who your customers are allows us to better serve them and ultimately better serve you.
How far is far enough? Learn more about how to choose what type of persona is needed for your application.
Understanding Your Customer Journey
Delivering your message to your customers and getting them to engage with your brand in the ways that will allow you to achieve your goal may be our shared primary objective, but it’s not your customer’s! Having context into where they are at in their relationship with your brand, all of the touchpoints that make up the complete picture of how they engage with you, as well as the other external factors that impact the ways they interface with you allows us to craft the best experience for them in context to your goals and lifetime value of that customer relationship.
• How do they engage with you?
• Where might they research solutions to the problems your product or service provides?
• What channels are they active in?
• Where are there pain points in the current ways they engage?
• How are they feeling at different touchpoints across their relationship with your brand and how do we leverage that emotional reaction to provide value and build loyalty?
• What other messages might they be seeing that complement or conflict with yours from your brand, a distributor, a competitor, other customers?
• Who are the key influencers both from your brand and externally that impact their decision-making?
Understanding Your Limitations
There is a solution to every problem, but often there are factors outside of our client’s direct control that have to be considered when we are finding the perfect-for-you solution.
Any agency worth their salt can come up with an approach that will achieve a goal when anything is possible, but we pride ourselves on actionable solutions.
We have a saying around here that “we don’t sell impossible dreams” because sometimes you can’t change the system you need to operate within. Maybe we’re stuck with a less than ideal tech stack. Maybe we just don’t have and can’t append the data needed to enable an experience and instead must find a way to collect it. Maybe the product we need to go to market and promote still has some refinement to be done, but it’s time to launch and learn. Maybe we can’t directly address customer pain-points / provide critical competitor comparisons (we’ve met the lawyers and we are grateful they exist). Maybe there is a critical error in the overarching journey that is beyond your scope of responsibility, and we can address it, but we have to find ways to work around it.
So we ask those questions. We’re going to clearly define guardrails, understand your specific limitations, and find ways for you to meet your goals or reset reasonable expectations.
Our best partnerships and strongest results come from the clients who are willing to go deep with us to build strong context to inform our thinking. Whether we’ve worked with them for 40 years or less than 40 hours, allowing us to understand them, their business, and their customers has helped us deliver countless campaigns and programs that not only meet but exceed the goals we’ve set together.
And sometimes, the best answer is – “I don’t know, but I know who might! Let me get you time with them!” because context is everything, and the only way to have as complete of a picture as possible, is to ask each other questions and build our collective understanding.