The Dynamics of Product Substantiation
More than ever, the eyes that absorb marketing content become all the more critical — smarter, cunning, aware of the intent behind the poster. Likewise, authority is being questioned much more routinely as norms are being shattered and the status quo is falling out from under the normative way of engaging with consumers.
What this means is that there’s a new generation of consumers afoot — informed, aware, critical and deeper on so many levels. This new generation justifiably requires respect and a creatively enticing invitation towards their attention and patronage.
While there now exist more avenues to reach these super-consumers, they’re always a step or three ahead - they determine the trend, as custom dictates. With each failed or triumphant marketing effort, we learn just a little bit more about how best to navigate the new mediums of social media — Twitter works best when appealing to emotion, Pinterest crowds love their flawlessly sparkling and suggestive photography, Facebook is a great foundation to connect.
Then, once we do finally catch the eyes of a prospective consumer, we have the narrowest window of opportunity by which we can fashion and exhibit our case. It’s what we do with this bit of time, this scintillating glimmer of attention, that counts more than anything.
57% of marketers reported custom content was their top marketing priority for 2014 (Altimeter.com)
Product descriptions are critical but they’re, well, just there. They’re necessary, expected, and only the barebone framework of a captivating delivery. In other words, the general descriptions of a product or a service can be considered the walls of a building — they can be fancied up but, ultimately, it’s the dynamic magic inside that can make or break a guests experience. It’s the tailored effort to persuade, customized to each and every niche or type of consumer, that wins out over generalized approaches.
And so this brings us to substantiations. Why the consumer needs whatever it is they need, why they ought to desire it. Sure, features can be listed and exaggerated but that’s less than half the battle; those same features, much of the time, are also replicated by the competition. Thus, the substantiation is crucial to not only convince and persuade, not only stand apart and stand out, but to also capture attention and provoke imagination.
Take, for instance, a natural health product that lists its scientific compounds and health benefits: if done correctly, an effective substantiation will allow the consumer to envision each and every scientific compound promoting that particular health benefit in their own respective physiology. If done even more effectively, the consumer will consider it a pleasing experience to have their eyes follow along every word of the description. Executed poorly, even through simple errors like monotonous grammar or over-informative lingo, and the imagination is deactivated, the interest is lost and the opportunity squandered.
To ensure that a substantiation hits the mark, then, a number of factors have to align. The art of persuasion has to be painted onto the proper canvas for the right audience, and done at the right time, using the right paintbrush and sold at the right venue. It sounds daunting but it’s really just about optimizing brand-awareness and understanding consumer-consciousness. It’s about escaping the quietudes of generic description and customizing things to every class and niche of consumer.
Ultimately, it’s being dynamic and versatile — tailoring campaigns, descriptions, and substantiations towards the proper target. Emotional priming can go a very long way in securing the beliefs of certain groups in certain situations much more than, say, scientific substantiation. In other situations, perhaps scientific substantiation wins out over an appeal to emotion.
For instance, we can imagine a body wash, a product that can be marketed in countless ways — the aromatic appeal or the moisturizing science. Who’s the target consumer? Casting too wide a net decreases the potency of effort, so the best approach is a sure target group and an even-more-sure plan of optimally engaging and enthralling that group. Say the ideal consumer of this body wash is a teenage male — well, we look at similar campaigns of Old Spice or Axe, appealing to the emotional desire to impress the opposite sex and substantiate this accordingly. Likewise, if it’s an adult male, the moisture-scientific and hydra-beneficial approach may prove more effective for the health-wise and age-conscious nature of older generations.
There’s more to it than the simplicity behind identifying pools of consumers, of course. Each approach is different, drastically different, though patterns tell us more than anything. Believe it or not, only 42% of B2B marketers report that they feel they’re effective in their content-marketing efforts -that means that, astoundingly, more than half feel that they’re not effective. That's a discouraging reality and a waste of online space that can be used much more colorfully.
When a company approaches the consumer with a dynamically tailored approach, they win them over. It’s a labor-intensive but rewarding long-term strategy that drastically improves brand image and helps nurture a bilaterally admirable relationship with consumers.