How to discover what they really want

February 28, 2019 - Tech Trends - Digital Marketing - Marketing Campaigns

Coherent scenario-based campaigns

If you want to grab a potential customer’s attention, and keep it all the way to your value proposition, you need to see yourself from their standpoint. Chest-pounding is long gone as a successful marketing strategy. You need to understand the mindset of your target audience and imagine the scenarios that are playing out in their head. 

Based on a given scenario, your ad copy is a promise of value to the user. You must keep your promise and deliver on their expectations. If you – cleverly – catch someone’s attention, to only let them down by directing them to a generic product page, or, worse, your homepage, you will not only miss out on an opportunity, but reduce your reputation in the eyes of your target audience.

Let’s see how we can build a scenario-based campaign, that coherently directs your audience to value matching their needs.

Step 1: Who are you targeting? Pick one.

No, not “everyone”. Pick a specific person you want to help. Choose a customer segment that

Differentiating multiple segments costs time and money. Only segment if the increased profits are more than the investment.

Action: pick a specific customer segment

Step 2: What do they want to accomplish? Pick one.

You need to understand what your potential client wants to accomplish and what are their pains. A great tool to help you do that is the “Value Proposition Canvas” by Strategyzer.

Here is a short video explaining the method:

An example: you sell drill bits (great drill bits).

By digging a little, you can find out that one segment of your customers:

And that they are frustrated because:

Credit – John Elbing

Here is where “scenario-based” comes in. You can’t make an ad that covers all the uses and solves all the problems. You must pick a scenario.

One such scenario could be “hanging a painting made easy”. Another could be “Safely drilling in concrete”. Those two scenarios match different mindsets of different users.

Another quick example: you don’t sell Nike sneakers the same way to those who actually run as to those who are making a fashion statement.

Image product Nike

It is better to precisely pinpoint a need of a small group of users than to be uninterestingly vague for everyone.

Action: pick a specific need and/or problem of your target audience.

Step 3: How can you catch their attention? Use their words.

Now that you have made a strong assumption on what is top of mind for your customer, the next step is to imagine how they represent that need in their minds. What is their vocabulary, their imagery?

Your ad can contain text, images, video, but it must match your prospect’s mindset. If you are targeting the professional handyman, you will communicate very differently than for a Sunday DIY.

How would they phrase a question in a store? How would they write a Google search query? How would they talk of their issue to a friend? What imagery would match their internal representation?

Brainstorm ideas from your customer’s standpoint.

Action: write ad copy, choose images or video, compose your ad variations.

Step 4: How do you keep your promise of value? Be coherent.

Great! You caught their attention, they clicked on your ad! Yay! You must keep that hard-earned attention. To do so, you must deliver on your promise.

If your ad addresses the problem of the dust created during drilling, you must propose the solution to that very specific issue. If you send your prospect to your generic product page and hope that he scrolls down and searches for that specific feature, you will be disappointed. Their attention span is very short. 

Create a landing page that addresses this specific issue first and foremost.

Today, building variants of your product page to emphasize its different benefits can be fast, easy and cheap and you will reap the rewards of increased sales.
A separate landing page for the specific issue “slim wallet”.

Action: create a variation of your product page to highlight the particular scenario, the specific mindset of your target user.

Step 5: How will you know if it worked? Measure.

There has been a lot of guesswork along the way. How will you know if it worked? How will you know if it was worth the effort?


Simple ubiquitous tools such as Google Analytics allow you to track everything.

Be honest. Do the results justify the investment? If yes, continue. If not, try something else.

Action: Setup the measurements you need to validate your hypotheses.

Step 6: Then what? Try again.

The easiest way to produce a winning campaign is to try out several ideas and measure which ones work best.

With these steps, you can list different customer segments and their corresponding needs and problems. This will give you a number of different scenarios for ad campaigns. Start with the most promising ones, but, sometimes success comes from the unexpected.

Have fun in your customer’s mind.

John Elbing

CCO (Chief Change Officer) at Standpoint
John has a technical background as a software developer (EPFL) and completed a financial MBA at Carnegie Mellon when he turned 40.

He has launched several startups and now coaches entrepreneurs for Innosuisse and Fongit. He transposes these methods to innovation management, using Design Thinking, for established companies through his company called Standpoint.

John also teaches entrepreneurship and digital strategy at HEG, Innosuisse, Venturelab and the EU Business School.

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