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AutoPoint Blog

Marketing that’s more than a message.

Posted by Hilary Biggart Wednesday, July 27, 2016

This is the final installment in our weekly series on uncommon tech innovations and implementations across all industries. We hope you've enjoyed getting an inside look at how other companies have changed their brands, their sales, and their retention through digital and mobile tech. 

Podcasting has been around for over a decade, but it didn’t gain real prominence until two short years ago. For many people, their introduction to the podcast concept was through Serial, a National Public Radio podcast that hit 5 million downloads in a single month.

Serial’s success enabled former NPR radio host Alex Blumberg to launch what he hopes will become the “HBO of podcasts.” Capitalizing on the national fervor spurred by Serial and his love of narrative-style nonfiction productions, Blumberg launched Gimlet Media in 2014.

Gimlet Media’s mission might seem simple: create compelling audio shows that engage listeners through high editorial standards and a narrative framework. But the really impressive part of that equation is engagement, particularly as it concerns their advertisers. Gimlet Media has taken an existing model (ads on radio-style shows) and found a whole new way to captivate its audiences and market its sponsors.   

Gimlet began with marketing itself.

The first Gimlet show Blumberg launched was about himself. The podcast Start Up hit the airwaves before Gimlet had funding or a name or any real future. With a reality show style, Blumberg recorded his own stilted interactions with potential investors, his search for a business partner, and the start-up lifestyle’s effect on his marriage and family.

Blumberg captivated audiences with the show’s emotional resonance, but the show had the double effect of marketing his newborn company. As soon as the show aired and rapidly gained a following, Gimlet’s necessary funding fell quickly into place. Today, Start Up (now focusing on new businesses other than Gimlet) sees about 1 million downloads a month.

A whole new way to generate engagement.

Gimlet now hosts six shows, with more planned for the future. Each show generates revenue from advertisers, with marketing messages promoted as distinct story-like segments on the podcast itself, directed and voiced by the podcast’s host.   

It’s this segment style that showcases Gimlet’s engagement strategy. A huge problem with engaging audiences through marketing is the sheer volume of messages consumers face every day. It’s no wonder marketers complain about “banner blindness” on websites and the fact that consumers skip or ignore ads on videos and web pages.

However, Gimlet makes storytelling a standard part of their marketing messages, thus appealing directly to their audience. Even companies like Ford have started taking advantage of this space and style.

What we can learn.

The lesson of Gimlet is that the way you communicate with your customers matters. If your marketing messages are generic, irrelevant ads thrown carelessly across random channels, your impact will be minimal. Customers will easily ignore your efforts, remain blind to your banners, and your business will suffer as a result.

The key to customer engagement through marketing is to say things the way your customers want to hear them. In Gimlet’s case, that means turning ads into narrative-style story-like segments. In your dealership’s case, that means making your messages hyper-personalized, ultra-targeted, and extremely relevant to your customers and their individual needs.

You have loads of information about your customers just sitting in your DMS. Your marketing platform should use the data you have to direct your marketing efforts and make your messages meaningful to the customers who receive them. Your messaging should also take channels into account. Which channels do your customers prefer? Where do they spend their time online?

An effective marketing system knows your customers inside and out, and directs your marketing messages in a way that appeals directly to their individual preferences. The result? More people in your store and fewer customers lost to the competition. 

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