Now You’re Speaking My Language

Maybe it’s because I live in the b2b marketing world, but I am always drawn to a really good b2b advertisement – to the point where I find myself applauding the creatives aloud! One ad campaign that caught my attention is Grainger’s 2014 “Get it. Got it. Good.” national ad campaign. In partnership with marketing communications powerhouse, Ogilvy Chicago, Grainger put together a memorable marketing campaign that shows the company puts its customers at the center its existence.

Figure 1: “Last Word On Safety” Ad

What makes this particular ad campaign resonate is the strong emotional connection between the brand and its target audience; industrial facilities / operations managers and procurement professionals. At the heart of the messaging is a sense that Grainger empathizes with the day to day challenges and demands faced by its customers, and positions itself as a contributing partner to keeping the facility’s operations running smooth.

All too often b2b messaging is product centric and lacks the characteristic of empathizing with the daily struggles of their end-users. Below is a breakdown of how the messaging effectively hit the proverbial nail on the head:

Knowing the target audience: The ad features a relatable character to connect with Grainger’s target audience from their own point-of-view. He is a facilities manager with a no-nonsense, get it done attitude. To many of Grainger’s customers this persona embodies the same characteristics they would expect of themselves, and likely someone they would feel comfortable taking advice from.

Establishing a needs hierarchy: Grainger’s messaging is tailored around the daily requirements faced by those managing an industrial environment such as productivity, quick delivery, workplace safety, and managing costs. These themes may seem like obvious points to hit on, but it’s the execution of the communication that is the key to the campaign’s success.

Hitting the emotions on a personal level: The power of the campaign ad is how Grainger makes an emotional connection to its audience on a personal level – relating to the personal challenges and rewards felt on the job. The brand speaks to its audience from a point of understanding, rather than a point of preaching. Grainger clearly communicates why they exist, not just what they offer – a gesture that would make Simon Sinek proud.

Using their language: A key to empathizing with a particular target audience is to speak their language and use phrases that are common within their vernacular. Grainger masterfully uses terms that resonate with facilities managers such as “Total cost of ownership (TCO)”, “No downtime” and “You need what you need when you need it”.

A campaign like this shows a brand that is striving towards customer centricity by acknowledging the daily struggles and motivations faced by its end-users. With that in mind, it would be unlikely that such an emotionally charged marketing campaign was created without the aid of voice-of-the-customer (VOC) market research.

We may not know the exact extent to which market research was used to guide Grainger’s marketing campaign. However, we can use Grainger as an example of how a successful marketing campaign can be achieved using market research:

Figure 2: Building A Successful Marketing Campaign Guided By Market Research

Grainger Examples
Examples Of MR Best Practices
MR Insights Gained For Guiding Marketing Campaigns
Knowing the audience
  • ● Exploratory usage & attitudes (U&A) research
  • ● Quantitative U&A validation
Understanding of users and non-users. Defining market segments and customer/buyer profiles
Establishing a needs hierarchy
  • ● Exploratory needs & behavioral research
  • ● Quantitative trade-off analysis
Identifying and prioritizing the key needs to hone in on for building more effective messaging platforms
Hitting emotions on a personal level
  • ● Ethnographic / observational research
  • ● Message testing
Going beyond the identification of needs and translating those needs into the emotional “wins” and “losses” of daily work life – establishing the customer value proposition (CVP)
Using their language
  • ● Depth interviews
  • ● Message testing
Communicating the CVP in language that resonated with the target audience

Through a mix of qualitative and quantitative methodologies, market research helps brand managers and ad agencies unearth deep seated insights required to understand the target audience, establish a needs hierarchy and pain points, tap into emotional drivers, and uncover common language for creating lasting marketing campaigns.

Get it. Got it. Good!

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