May 20, 2019

Humanizing the Total Customer Experience

There’s a running joke at our agency about the famed industry “ecosystem slide.” You know what I’m talking about - that one presentation slide that attempts to visualize how every single consumer touchpoint plays a unique role, yet connects with every other touchpoint to form a cohesive customer experience. Maybe it’s a Venn diagram. Maybe it’s a table. Or, my personal nightmare, the “Beautiful Mind” approach– a bunch of floating platform icons with a web of lines connecting them all in one tangled ball of confusion. “Look!” we say. “This is your brand ecosystem! See how beautifully and simply it depicts the total customer experience?” “OK, John Nash,” our clients say, before dropping it into a desktop folder to gather digital dust.

 

Brand EcosystemAs marketers, it’s important to consider ecosystems, journeys, and the end-to-end customer experience. But these concepts can be hard to truly grasp when talking about them in the abstract, or out of the context of how an individual person experiences a brand and its products.

 

The reality is that in the digital age, our avenues of information are so diverse, our digital and physical spaces so entwined, that a customer journey is no longer linear or simple. At any given stage in the marketing funnel, a person might bounce around from Instagram, to billboard, to blog post, to text exchange and back in mere minutes. Even when this journey is simplified and beautifully designed to look at in aggregate, there’s a lack of realness to it– and a lack of true comprehension.

 

So how do we start to truly understand what the modern customer experience looks like without making our heads explode? Let’s get out of the abstract.

 

The AMP Strategy team is on a quest to humanize the total customer experience. Over the next several months, we’ll be doing first-person deep dives into the experience of shopping, purchasing, and returning across industries. We’ll map out real paths to purchase, identifying pain points and emotions along the way, to surface real industry insights and areas of opportunity– and share them right here on AMP’s blog.

 

Because at the end of the day consumers are human, and we need to understand them as humans. The true customer experience cannot be captured on a slide.

 

- Greer Pearce, VP of Strategy

 

Meet Our Humans

Greer

Greer Pearce, VP of Strategy

Outdoorswoman, jazz singer, tween culture obsessive

 

Ben

Ben Seldin, Strategy Director

Nike addict, political junkie, wanna-be foodie.

 

Elle

Elle Elderd, Associate Strategist

Savory over sweet, mixer of drinks and vinyls, runs on espresso

 

Jen

Jen Herbert, Senior Strategist

Literary fiction addict, almond croissant enthusiast, frequently-disappointed Chicago Bears fan

 

DJ

DJ Weidner, Strategy Director

Backyard grilling fanatic, year-round iced latte connoisseur, occasional salmon and halibut fisherman

 

james_herrera_new

James Herrera, Director, Experience Strategy

Life-long LA Dodgers fan, believer in the beginner’s mind, finds reading science non-fiction oddly satisfying

March 8, 2019

YouTube's SXSW Creative Agency Challenge 2019- AMP Agency

A core tenant of our business at AMP Agency is that we strive to generate strategy that is creative, and creative that is strategic. But any marketing agency would agree that it can be challenging for the Strategy team to continually build briefs that present a unique POV and inspire the Creative team; on the other hand, it can sometimes be a puzzle for Creative to generate ideas that are both breakthrough in the marketplace and guaranteed to resonate with our audiences.


This winter our Strategy and Creative teams were given the opportunity to push those bounds and work on a project, leveraging audience insights, that has made us into even more creative and thoughtful storytellers. Not only that, it’s revitalized the way our teams collaborate together.

______________

THE BACKGROUND


We were selected to participate in the 2019 iteration of YouTube's South by Southwest (SXSW) Creative Agency Challenge. We were excited to learn the theme was "Signals and Storytelling." This theme pushed us to look beyond audience demographics and think meaningfully about consumers’ interests and intent signals based on how they’re using Google & YouTube--and more importantly how these insights could more strategically inform our creative storytelling.


During the Challenge kick-off at YouTube NYC, we discussed how it’s no longer acceptable to fill the Target Audience section of a creative brief with simple, demographic information. The comical example that Google gave, and that stuck with us, is that by writing a demographic-led brief like, Aged 65+, British, high net worth, dog lover, we would unknowingly be creating content that tailored to both Prince Charles and Ozzy Osbourne!


In addition, this year’s Challenge looked to harness the participating agencies’ efforts towards a greater good. YouTube partnered with the Ad Council, and we were asked to create two pieces of skippable YouTube video content for a select cause-based organization. AMP was assigned to work with She Can STEM. Our goal and our challenge was to use insights-based, creative storytelling to empower parents to encourage an interest in STEM.  More specifically, we wanted to understand and reach the audiences of Bargain Hunter parents and Technophile parents, who we found, through working with Google, showed strong affinity for the cause.


 

 


 

 


Below, our Senior Strategist, Jen Herbert, and Creative Director, James Hough, reflect on their insights, the process, and experience.

______________

FROM CONSUMER INSIGHTS TO CREATIVE STRATEGY


Jen: When analysing interest and intent signals, what came as the biggest surprise was that bargain hunter parents like watching quirky videos featuring silly experimentation around the house, such as Making Slime and the Cheese Ball Bath Challenge. To resonate, I thus wanted to recognize their lives are full of creative, scrappy, playful discovery, and how through this they established a foundation that could translate to a career in STEM.


For Technophile Parents, I saw that they are often shopping for gaming systems, but also interested in sports, TV shows, movies and news articles. So, to cater our messaging to Technophile Parents, I wanted to acknowledge their lives as multi-dimensional and well-rounded.


______________


THE CREATIVE PROCESS


James: The Creative Team viewed this opportunity as a chance to see how we stacked up against other up-and-coming and established advertising agencies and marketing agencies. We felt empowered to ensure our storytelling was on point. Basic empowerment and “you’re a badass” messaging wouldn’t cut it when we need to tell parents they have a job to do – keeping their daughters interested in STEM through the 11 to 14 year-old drop off point. More simply, “She can STEM.”


Based on the strategic insights in our creative brief, we presented four concepts and eight scripts to the Ad Council after sharing initial thoughts with Google. After the Ad Council chose a direction we storyboarded, found a director (Max Esposito), found locations, cast and shot– all within about a week. I think that the financial and time constraints coupled with the freedom to go out and create without check-in’s made for something special.


While each of our spots are aimed at a different audience, they shared the same goal. In each of the stories we see relatable and tangible ways a parent can encourage their daughter at the right time to keep going. Instead of pushing future-focused images of a marine biology or coding career, we centered the seemingly minor moments of everyday life that could have a big impact on a girl’s interest, like a trip to the aquarium with mom or the gift of a tablet from dad.


Check them out. We really hope you like them:

 

https://youtu.be/-bxOcFJNEjs  

 

https://youtu.be/hWZrvXpace8  


And check out the story on Adweek, Think with Google, MarComm News, and others:

https://www.adweek.com/brand-marketing/youtube-wants-to-teach-marketers-how-to-create-more-targeted-advertising-at-sxsw/ 

 

https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/advertising-channels/video/youtube-audience-behavioral-insights/ 

 

https://marcommnews.com/youtube-and-ad-council-tap-amp-agency-and-others-for-sxsw-challenge/

 

https://lbbonline.com/news/ad-council-spots-show-how-girls-can-be-inspired-to-work-in-stem/

 

February 11, 2019

3 Ways to Ready Your Brand for the Data Drought

Over the past several years, we’ve operated in a golden age of data. Between first-, second- and third-party sources, marketers have leveraged this information about their consumers as a powerful marketing tool.


But the data well is about to start drying up.


Our VP of Strategy, Greer Pearce, and our VP of Media, Kazi Ahmed, talk about the data drought and the three things brands can do right now to ready themselves for it.

 

Check it out on MediaPost: https://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/331299/data-drought-coming-prepare-with-effective-use-of.html

January 6, 2013

Holding Down a Piece of Time: Currency in the Digital Age

In the early 1980s, budding NYC photographers captured the graffiti art spray-painted onto subway cars that traversed the city. They'd wait to set up shots. Pull emergency levers to stop trains, buying time with their cameras and the fresh paint. It didn't matter that these 'photographers'? were just kids or that the graffiti they worked hard to capture would soon be painted over by MTA workers. That's because the kids snapping photos and the artists who 'bombed'? trains were all interested in the same thing: Capturing something meaningful, ephemeral.

The New York Transit Authority in the 1980s

Fast forward to today. Many of us are on Instagram taking photos of the seemingly mundane: what's for dinner, our evenings out, our kids'?¦ and ourselves (a lot of those). While it may seem silly to compare a 'selfie'? we post on Instagram to the photographs of graffiti from the 1980s, I would argue that these two phenomena actually have a lot more in common in terms of human motivation than we think. And looking at how they're connected will sketch a roadmap for the unfolding digital landscape.

To be known and to belong

A photo of artwork we like. Our reflection in a window. The frothy cappuccino you had at lunch. They're not exactly graffiti on subway trains, but they're the fleeting moments of our ordinary lives that connect us to people and practices'in other words, 'culture.'? By snapping a photo, you contribute to the macro-level conversation about a given topic, make your voice heard, and accrue status accordingly.

It makes sense then that Instagram and Facebook serve as a way of building your identity and social status. It's a way of telling the world, 'I recognize this as something important, and therefore, I belong.'? And those are a couple of the underlying utilities of social media'to be known and to belong. It doesn't matter that your post is irrelevant in 24 hours. All that matters is that you caught a piece of life that was meaningful to you in some way, even if it was about to get painted (or posted) over in time.

When teenage photographers pulled the emergency lever on subway cars so they could take more photos of graffiti, they were taking part in the same practice. The modern day obsession with Instagram is motivated by that same impulse: to hold down a moving piece of time and claim it as part of your experience.

What it means for advertising

The implications of this new, rapid-fire digital landscape have been discussed ad nauseam, yet advertising professionals still need a call to action'what are we supposed to take away from this paradigm shift? How has this technology changed the way we express ourselves, and what do we do with that dialogue?

The answer becomes clear when you look at specific situations and examine human behavior over time. When we do this, we begin to see the truth of human experience. We begin to see that the graffiti-capturing teens of the '80s aren't that different from the ordinary folk who post pics on Instagram. Maybe we share too much now. Maybe not. Regardless of how you feel, it's changing our high-level cultural dialogue about everything from brands to what you wear to work each day.

For advertisers, this is a significant shift in engagement with consumers. Brands want to get in on the conversations we're having. The age of big campaigns with long runways is coming to a close. Today, creative content and effective strategy requires a much shorter incubation period than ever before. Quite simply, when our feeds are moving as fast as our brains (and vice versa), content needs to keep up.

Content as currency

In the new digital landscape, brands are judged on their capacity to create authentic content for their followers. A brand's ability to do this well leads to the accrual of social currency. That currency buys engagement. When you do this well, consumers ultimately include you in the conversations they're having. Listen, this isn't as dirty as it sounds. Let's suspend cynicism for a moment and consider this: Engaging with consumers as part of conversations they're creating means we can potentially elevate and diversify human experience to a new level. To put it simply, we'll have the power to open up the world to more human perspectives than ever before. Where this will take us is anyone's guess, but as advertisers, we need to be prepared to take the ride.

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