Fast Company

How to Connect with Consumers

There’s a great guy named Matt at my gym.  Matt’s trainer and my trainer (I know how crazy cliché that sounds) are friends and so Matt and I end up sweating next to each other a lot.  As a result, we often get to talking and one day, he mentioned a company he was considering for investment and asked me to take a look.

I did and wrote him an email with my thoughts.  Next thing I knew he had forwarded my email to the founder and she reached out to me.  We exchanged emails and set up a breakfast.

While sucking down a basket of pastries at Rose’s Café (also why I need a trainer) I listened to her talk about her background and vision for the company:  http://www.theskinnyscoop.com/

The site is aimed at women and is an information aggregation and decision-making tool.  It provides women, especially mothers, a place to ask some of their most pertinent questions and get answers from their personal communities.  What it provides advertisers is what made me sit up and take notice:  a way in.

The current advertising world relies on pre and post brand awareness studies (aka surveys) coupled with media buys on large ad networks or ad exchanges promising audience targeting technology.  The latest technology approach is data provider networks like Blue Kai and Quantcast (yep, the site you signed up with to track visitors to your site – can you see where all this is going?).  Hot on their heels are the offline data aggregators like Experian.  All these guys are trying to help advertisers reach their target audience – usually through things like demographic details, geographic location, occupation and even credit score.

Having been in the business of online advertising, I can say with some experience, that advertisers are notoriously bad at understanding who their actual audience is versus their target audience.  I have no doubt, however, that some of the technologies mentioned above will help advertisers get there.

Here’s the rub though: advertisers can reach audiences but isn’t the goal to actually connect with them?  In order to connect with a consumer an advertiser has to know not only who to reach, but also how.  That’s where sites like TheSkinnyScoop, I think, are on to something.  It’s through their work on connection, that an advertiser gets entry to the psychological, emotional instincts of a consumer; information that sites visited or ads clicked on could never tell you.  Things like 71% of women have kept love letters from an ex-boyfriend. 

What The SkinnyScoop is doing is not new per se.  In some ways, it reminds me of the days of Tickle (did I just date myself?).  Hunch.com is another example of the trend.  In fact, Mint.com used a similar approach.  What is the trend?  It’s the stop guessing at the consumer and just ask them approach.   Done the right way, consumers seem pretty willing to answer.

I had another meal with the founder where I sucked down a salad (I'm improving) and related all this to her.  And Matt?  He invested.

You can reach Alicia at www.aliciamorga.com

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