Where do we start with ‘Audience First’?

Data allows for observations that drive brilliant ideas. It is easy to become over-reliant on data, or misuse it to replace creative thinking. 

In this episode, Dr James Piecowye and Paul Kelly discuss where data provides value and how it should be used in the framework of ‘Audience-first’ thinking. And how to get great insights that can be transformed into ideas that connect with audiences.



Dr. James Piecowye:  Welcome to know your audience, a marketing mini cast that explores how knowing an audience can unlock greater insight. 

In this episode, we talk about how we take everything we’ve spoken about so far and start applying it to the here and now. Paul walks us through how good data leads to more clear observations, and ultimately better ideas that we can apply to the audience and ultimately, sell more.

This has all been about ‘audience first’ {Yep}. And getting to understand our audience better, then moving into our products and beyond. So if we’re thinking about audience-first and an audience-first mentality, in our planning phases, where do we start? And what does that mean? 

Paul Kelly: There’s a thing here, I just want to say as well, this isn’t just about data, a great idea is what drives successful marketing campaigns, always. Sometimes we can get lost in data, you know, we get into a position where we rely on numbers to drive more, but the numbers say that we should do this. So just litter this, you know, this certain type of coffee, for example. 

James: Everyone’s heard that right? That I mean, that’s what happens so often. And I love the fact that you’re pointing out that this is a danger to not fall into the trap of saying, well, we’ve got, now we’ve suddenly got all this data that’s going to tell us what to do. You still need to have a great idea. 

Paul: Yeah, yeah, and creativity. And nuance is always required to develop business, moving ideas, products, or whatever. But where the data does tap in is the observations. And this is really what I want to stress is the data is an observational tool, that then thinking needs to be applied to better understand how you apply that data to real life, create the insight that perhaps then relates is able somebody who’s creative can then come up with a great idea that rests on that insight, that problem that you’ve discovered, or the opportunity or whatever from the data. And to do that, you really need to really need that knowledge of an audience. Or you could even replace the word audience with a potential customer, or consumer, do you know what I mean? Like, {yeah}, you can remove that word. 

Why it’s better to use audiences, because you tend to think a lot larger, with an audience that you’ve got people with different tastes, different beings, different backgrounds, etc. When you start to think about your own consumer or customer, you start to get psychographics coming to your mind as a marketer, which means you’re then applying a buyer as well, we’re really targeting this audience, you know, and this is what it is. And that’s it, or this type of consumer, when in actual fact, you might be missing a big segment of information. 

So that’s why we talk about audience. But basically, the research that we can, we’re talking about here relies on data at the very early stages, to understand patterns of behavior, you understand; a couple of episodes ago, we talked about system one, system two thinking, we’re really looking in and the system one stuff. And really what it is, enables us to eliminate the bias of understanding who that person is by using, we’ve discussed before keywords and all that sort of stuff. So basically, what we then need to start thinking about once you’ve got the data, right, so the patterns of behavior, like things like, what are they interested in? What are they doing? What’s the type of content? What are they engaging with all that sort of thing, it really comes down to three pillars, that helps you plan that and it’s the things that the audience cares about, from the signals that you’ve watched, it’s the things that they do on a daily basis to those two things overlay from each other, and then their personality traits and how we can better understand that audience and identifying those pillars means that basically, you’re able to give a better brief to people who have to implement something, whether that’s research at the top end of the scale, or the back end, or it’s too creative to come up with a campaign idea, or it’s a media planner, or something like that, who’s to decide where the money’s gonna get spent to help reach that audience. 

That Depth of Knowledge helps everybody to a job in marketing, particularly that makes whatever the message is that you want to convey, resonate more deeply with an audience. 

James: So I could end up having a much richer brief because I’ve got a much broader set of data points to help inform my thinking about my idea. 

Paul: Yeah. And coming at this {Yes, exactly}. And coming at this from this ambient feedback methodology we talked about in an episode earlier is about observing. When you do that, you’re applying a certain degree of empathy, you’re understanding them a lot better, you’re able to almost feel or understand their situation a lot better. And that’s the key to making data work really strategically. So our problem often is that data is looked at from a purely quantitative point of view and not necessarily applying qualitative frameworks over the top of quantitative data. 

So you’re not necessarily you know, what 10% of people think this, you know, 44% of it can be wrong, you know, but actually what’s driving that? How do we understand? What might be behind that? 45%? What can we understand a lot better? How can we understand this person’s day in day or situation or time of year or decision-making cycle that can make it so that we, in a sense, almost know the audience better than themselves? 


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James: What I find interesting is the terms observe and observing. And based on everything that we’ve talked about so far, what makes this whole audience first way of thinking, using ambient data and an ambient,  get an ambient sense from of our audience, is that it’s observing that audience, as opposed to having observed the audience in one point, which tends to be what typically happens with our marketing, but now we’re observing them. And going back to what we talked about before, we’re getting an ongoing set of data. 

Paul: Yeah, everybody’s context changes, right? Like things change around that, the environment. So I think everybody in recent times, who has a very recent memory, anyways listening to this, knows what happened in 2020. And the upheaval that happened, in the sense of everybody’s context changed for a really long period of time. And when we’re, as we’re recording this, it’s still changed. 

That gives a great knowledge background to this because you can start to think about what Okay, yes, context changes, but how does patterns of behavior? How does that change? Do we go back to normal and all that sort of thing, and really understanding that constant way of understanding things like sort of constantly updating what’s happening, and all that sort of thing, gives you just a greater and richer stream of understanding and predictability about the future. Where also you got to be careful about basing future assumptions on past behavior, obviously, its worst indicator of what’s gonna happen in the future, but it helps you predict it, you know, you can start to use artificial intelligence and things like that, to better understand what someone might be doing, you know, in that futures state. 

And I think the important differences, I think out there as well, people are; yeah, but we could do this with social listening, for example, there are challenges with social listening, because it’s built for bias. It’s a bit like the Google search, pump something into Google about the answer I want to find. It’s the same thing in social listening, you’re relying on keywords to sort of state (the best example I can think of would be something that people don’t necessarily talk about in their day to day life), breakfast cereal, just not talked about, you know, or brand name. 98% of brand names are just not discussed. You don’t necessarily, you just talk about the water or having a juice, you don’t necessarily say, the brand of the juice that you’re drinking less. It’s one of those sorts of categories anonymous and Nutella is a good example where you wouldn’t necessarily say chocolate hazelnut spread. Right. Yeah. And then the other substitutes for Nutella. Also Nutella, you know, happens in tech, obviously, a lot because of Google, etc. You know, but I think that’s the issue. 


James: I’m having cranberry juice. I’m not gonna necessarily talk about the brand. I’m just gonna go Yeah, like some cranberry juice. {Yeah}, orange juice. Paul: Yeah, most products like some cheese. James: So give me a glass a ‘Minute Maid’. It’s; give me ‘Grace’. Orange juice. 

Paul: Yeah. And the brand, the brand’s role is to reinforce, you know, quality element and price and all that sort of stuff. But if you’ve put that if you put ‘minute maid’ into a social listening tool, for example, then you’re only going to get results, about minute paid, first of all, which I wouldn’t imagine would be very significant. And the ones that are there are likely to be whenever somebody talks about something in a category like that it’s negative. So you’re probably getting a skewed set of results back to you. 

James: So, that does not lead to good planning for my beverage sales. 

Paul: Yeah. And so if you’re looking at Yeah, and if you’re, if you’re just typing in juice, I mean, juice might be something that someone mentioned, they might be, you know, a great example. But there are other things on other platforms that have limitations, where you might not necessarily, you’re not getting the right results, basically, and because you’ve had to enter a series of keywords to find what you’re looking for. So it’s reinforcing whatever, you’re looking for confirmation. You won’t so if you’re doing research, you’re saying, Well, people use you know, use of baking powder, or something, I don’t know, self-raising flour, you know, whatever it is. You’re looking for, rather than looking for the context and the cereal. One’s a great example because the occasion of breakfast is an important one for a lot of people. And what they do in that occasion in the busy they school where they, you know, they’re peeking social media usage during breakfast time of day, yeah, all that sort of stuff you will miss if you just look for cereal or the word even breakfast because not necessarily everyone talks about breakfast. Something happens on that occasion, but not necessarily breakfast, or a better example for that would be lunch. A lot of people might say, What are you having for lunch, etc. But they don’t necessarily talk about lunch. It’s what they’re eating, a great sandwich or, you know, all that type of thing. 

So, understanding the context can be challenging with these sort of more always-on tools like social listening and things like that it can, it can really reinforce biases and things. 

So being able to sort of look at instead behavior of an audience and what happens around them becomes way more important, but also a lot more useful in the long run. 

James: The takeaway from this episode is that there are all sorts of tools available to help us make sense of audiences today. But if we’re not thinking in terms of audience behavior, when we talk about data, observation, and application, we’re ignoring a very fertile area that can inform our thinking and ultimately, product deployment and promotion. 

You can get in touch with me across the socials @thejamescast or [email protected] 

Paul: And get in touch with me both through d-a.co or otherwise, email me at [email protected]

Thanks for listening