How would you run the marketing campaign for the roll out of a new Happy Meal toy? What about selling a new host for a popular and influential late night TV show? If you’ve ever daydreamed such things, read on my marketing muse.

So often our conversations about digital marketing focus on the heavy lifting of technology and the minutiae of process, it’s easy to forget that you’re still dealing with people on the other end of all that work. Having fun with your marketing strategy and keeping your audience in mind goes a long way, even in the digital world, as these two CMOs from recognizable brands showcased at Adobe Summit in Las Vegas earlier this month.

Remember your audience is composed of different people

Deborah Wahl, CMO of McDonald's, is interviewed by Brad Rencher, general manager of digital marketing at Adobe.
Deborah Wahl, CMO of McDonald’s, is interviewed by Brad Rencher, general manager of digital marketing at Adobe.

With more than 99 billion served, McDonald’s might be one of the best brands to remind marketers that their audiences aren’t just one generic conglomeration of consumers, but composed of real people that are each unique individuals. Deborah Wahl, the CMO of McDonald’s, says she kept this in mind over an 18-month period that saw the burger-flipping restaurant undergo a digital transformation. Before the start of that journey, she says she had no capability to talk to her customers at a one-to-one level, and judged responses to customer inquiries in terms of hours.

After launching an app that sees 10 million downloads and counting, now McDonald’s measures its response time in minutes.

“Now we’re just following what the customers are saying,” she says. “We’re on this very quick journey of where we need to be.”

Specifically, customers told McDonald’s they wanted offers out of the app, so that’s what they are able to find there, Wahl says. But factors such as locality can lead to differences in audience expectations, or so McDonald’s has learned from monitoring the 18 million people accessing its WiFi network daily.

Texans seem to care the most about local messaging, and show a 350 per cent increase in click-throughs just for that, Wahl says. “There’s so much incremental power in those little things.”

Use the Easter egg effect

Walter Levitt, CMO of Comedy central, on stage with Brad Rencher, general manager of digital marketing, Adobe.
Walter Levitt, CMO of Comedy central, on stage with Brad Rencher, general manager of digital marketing, Adobe.

The default setting for marketers is to help your audience find your content on any given channel as much as possible, but there are times when adding a bit of a challenge to discovering content is correct. That’s what Water Levitt, the CMO of Comedy Central, found when he was promoting Trevor Noah as Jon Stewart’s replacement on The Daily Show.

That’s what Water Levitt, the CMO of Comedy Central, found when he was promoting Trevor Noah as Jon Stewart’s replacement on The Daily Show. Since Stewart was really a flagship host for the brand, there was a lot of curiosity around his replacement. So it was no surprise when Comedy Central’s search engine marketing team noticed a spike for searches of Noah, but then they noticed a twist in the data.

“The really unexpected part is that we saw searches not directly related to Trevor Noah as Daily Show host,” he says. “Searches like ‘Trevor Noah girlfriend.'”

The creative team couldn’t resist opportunity to have Noah respond to searches like this in a series of videos that could only be found when Googling specific keywords. The series of 30-odd short videos were shared all over the web and media also reported on the project.

For Levitt, reaching his audience on search helped bolster his brand as being more than just a TV network. “We need to be the favourite comedy brand for millennials anywhere they’re looking to laugh,” he said.

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