How Marketers Can Read The Room Of Their Target Audiences

How Marketers Can Read The Room Of Their Target Audiences
Buli Ndlovu, Executive Head of Marketing for Retail and Business Banking at Nedbank.

Buli Ndlovu, Executive Head of Marketing for Retail and Business Banking at Nedbank, was a speaker at the Nedbank IMC Conference. Ndlovu discussed how to reclaim your relevance by reading the room.

Ndlovu said that marketers take many things for granted and assume too much. They are like strangers who enter a room, randomly join a target market group and start talking about themselves in ways that audiences don’t understand and connect with, and often in a tone that is condescending or goes over the audience’s heads. Inevitably, marketers will get a poor reaction from that group, and remain irrelevant.

Brands can’t just enter the room and start talking to the audience without thinking about them. They need to consider context and culture.

Context speaks to the influence on consumers that the world around them has, the reality they exist in at that particular time and place. Culture involves what is unique to each group within that room and what binds them together, their shared view of the world around them.

‘No matter how good your product, offer or special is, when you get the context and culture wrong, you risk being cancelled. When you go down a tone deaf path, you lose credibility with the group you’re trying to converse with, and you show how little you know about who they are, and where they are,’ said Ndlovu. ‘Get to the stage where the culture embraces your brand as one of their own, where the brand no longer belongs to the organisation, but to the people.’

Part of understanding the context and the culture is assessing if you even have permission to enter into the conversations. Not all conversations require your brand voice.

Questions brands can ask themselves:

1. Does my brand have the credibility to speak in this room?

This speaks to your purpose as a brand. Before you can connect through conversation, you have to connect through purpose, because it is that purpose that inserts you authentically into the conversation. Does your purpose connect to and resonate with your audience?

2. How much make-up do I need to be put on in order to be seen, heard and liked in this room?

This speaks to authenticity and making sure you are the best brand to speak to your audiences. Consider your tone of voice: is it believable? It’s about the language that connects you to your audiences, communicating at the speed of culture and leading with empathy. The same things that make us engage with people are how we expect to engage with brands.

3. What value is my brand bringing to the table?

What is your compelling and differentiated value proposition that adds value to the lives of the people in that room? It must be something that they need and will be better off with because you are in that room.

Tips inspired by the Culture Rising 2022 trends report:

1. Connect with your community. We all have biases, mostly assuming that others are exactly like us, so we already know them. But you don’t. Engage with people whose experiences can expand yours and to ensure authentic and inclusive representation.

2. Collaborate for success. No matter your business objective, there’s a strong chance that you can do it better with a partner. These could be creators, members of an underrepresented group, or even like-minded brands.

3. Colliding trends. When you combine e-commerce and entertainment, for example, you get live shoppertainment. The possibilities are endless.

When a brand understands the culture and context in which it operates and is able to lean into that, the culture recognises the brand and the brand ultimately wins.