There have been tons and tons of implementations around the world of my wonderfully profitable See-Think-Do-Care business framework.
This is immensely gratifying.
Over the last year, I've also worked with many companies to drive new and rapid innovation in their digital strategies using the framework. In the process, I've learned a whole lot more, evolved my thinking and refined the nuances.
In this blog post I want to share two strategic clarifications/extensions of my thinking about the See-Think-Do-Care framework. My hope is to better assist you in your own journey in using the framework to unlock imagination, build intent-based audience strategies, deliver joy to them and accelerate business profit.
And, just because I love you all so much, I'll end with a little bonus. A thing three that shares optimally aligned See-Think-Do-Care metrics!
But, let's start with the core intent of my post.
There were two key reasons I'd created See-Think-Do-Care.
I passionately dislike how most Marketers have become selfish – because most companies set deeply selfish goals for them!
There is a ton of pressure to show ROI, in 24 hours (!!). There is very little desire to "rock the boat." There are ton's of incentives to keep doing things the way they've always been done. There are loads of "studies" and business frameworks from the ancient Romans and early Greeks to "guide" decision making. We expect to shout via TV or Radio or on AOL.com and expect our customers to follow a specific "path" down the "funnel."
Shove, shove, shove, them down the funnel, and shovel, shovel, shovel in the money!
I saw this wonderful cartoon by Marketoonist somewhere, it captures the essence beautifully…
It is not that companies are silly. Remember, there was little data to know what worked – hence what might have worked in the past was repeated. There were few possibilities to actually understand the complexity of the consumer decision making process – hence a small focus-group drove policy. There were no platforms to engage people in any scaled manner, except when they walked into retail stores or called companies on the phone – hence there was no need to truly be social or patient.
I hate this because it limits imagination and success for companies, and happiness and joy for customers.
We have the web, an incredibly empowering audience relationship platform. We can actually talk to customers in all their moments, not just commercial ones. We can see the broad arc of their behavior. We can entertain them, inform them, and provide utility (AND fulfill their commercial needs – hurray revenue!!!).
See-Think-Do-Care says, there are four different audience intent clusters, and we, as companies/Marketers/CxOs, need to ensure that we solve for all four audience intent clusters.
At it's core is our largest addressable qualified audience (LAQA). Not just your largest addressable audience, that leads to the omni-present spray-and-pray advertising on TV and in magazines. Qualified. That Q is really important. Only people who through, primarily, their behavior (not demographics/psychographics) share an intent which puts them in our LAQA.
The core largest addressable qualified audience is our See intent cluster. This audience, and this is critical, has no commercial intent. Yet, now finally thanks to the glorious platform that is the web, we can engage actively, and profitably, with this intent cluster. (Something never possible in the past at scale, unless you count having a booth at the 1851 World's Trade Fair.)
The Think audience intent cluster that contains a slightly smaller audience but one that, through their behavior, display weak commercial intent.
The Do audience intent cluster is, think of how crazy this is, the one on which 97.296% of the current marketing activity is focused: an audience with strong commercial intent, close to making a purchase. (Since there is such little understanding, or accommodation, of intent by marketers, at a company, or agencies huge and small, all those ads on TV and display ads on websites – BUY NOW, BUY NOW PLEASE! – are simply trying to maximize the chance they'll bump into Do intent. In the processing, annoying everyone in the See and Think intent clusters!)
The Care audience intent cluster is the one I love the most. It is the largest addressable qualified audience that forms our extra-loyal customers. Not just people who've purchased once, but multiple times. Those that have renewed their contract. Those that have long-term revenue resulting engagements with us. Today on the web, there is such little care for the Care intent cluster. There are tech support FAQs. There is a support phone number that's challenging the Loch Ness for findability. But, nothing else. Why not? If you could talk to your extra-loyal customers at scale, provide utility, bring them closer to your brand, is that not a gift from Krishna/Jesus/Kratos?
Taking into account intent, rather than age/income/marriage/education, into account, and the web's massive capabilities, you can unlock imagination inside your company and deliver joy to audiences.
Step one is to define your largest addressable qualified audiences carefully. Be very specific, be focused, be obsessive about getting the Q right. Then, use that as a lens to evaluate your entire business strategy – most definitely digital.
Here's the output of an audience definition exercise I'd recently done for a client gig…
Just think of See. Having that crispness (not too wide, not too narrow, with a pinch of clear Q), can you imagine the videos you might post on YouTube or posts on Facebook that inform, entertain and provide utility? Imagine how much more focused your digital marketing will be once you give that Think definition to your team/agency. So on, and so forth.
What current funnel based decision-making structure or business framework pushes you do do that? None.
Which team can benefit immensely from going through this exercise and create a richer understanding of the audience-centric intent-driven possibilities available? Yours! :)
So, that's the first thing I love about See-Think-Do-Care. An obsession with the largest addressable qualified audiences with and without commercial intent and challenges you to use digital for Care.
The second thing I love is the fact that we can take a non-siloed view of what it takes to succeed. We can talk about Content AND Marketing AND Measurement. Everything through one lens. Each element forced to account for the other two.
I know that seems like a strange thing to celebrate because at some level it is so obvious. Yet, in reality, we are all broken into pieces in any organization. We simply think about our immediate job responsibilities, and the overt or covert incentives usually narrow down our focus even more.
I believe, as perhaps common-sense would dictate, that you should have a content strategy first (and content investment first). Then, at least after you have a critical-enough amount (yet, not complete) of content, you should invest in marketing. Once you have a critical-enough marketing budget (this could be $10k, really the bar is quite low), you should have measurement strategy. [Phase one, steps one through five, here: The Complete Digital Analytics Ecosystem: How To Win Big.]
Let us look at the combination of these three critical elements, and understand the implications of accounting for all of them in executing our See-Think-Do-Care strategy (or not accounting for one or more!).
You'd be surprised how often this happens:
It sounds absolutely silly, but think of all the companies where marketing is on auto-pilot (doing the same thing year-after-year with 3% increase in budget). Is this not what they are doing? Think of companies where marketing is a kingdom, or just a silo, caring little about all else. Or, think of how many start-ups or deeply established companies will think they have a product and start marketing the heck out of it. It might work for Do audience intent, but for See-Think-Care, this strategy is a disaster.
Good marketing is not free. Hence, having a strategic or tactical obsession with marketing without deeply thinking about content (first!) and measurement (soon after!) is flushing money down the proverbial you know what.
[If you really believe this is not happening inside your company, pause and read the contract given to the SEO agency/internal person. Dive just a little bit into the PPC or Display teams/agencies. What percentage of their time/effort is focused on ensuring See-Think-Do-Care content is there?]
When you only see the orange box inside your company, or an out-sized investment in it, your ads are writing chqs your website can't cash.
If this is your company's strategy…
It is quite sad. I've even called it lame. The good news is that the internet has a way of delivering audiences without you even trying. Think of what SEO does. Think of what people do when they find great content, they amplify! This means if you have great content (with great being the operative word, if that's hard for you think of it as See-Think-Do-Care content that meets each audience's intent), you'll get some people to connect with it.
But, it is heartbreaking to not invest in marketing because no amount of SEO and Social and Email can get you the audience you deserve. Great content is mandatory, but it is not the be-all-and-end-all. In an attention-fragmented world, you need great marketing and, if you are reading this blog you know this already, you need great measurement.
Don't short-change your company. Invest in content to match the See audience intent. Create unique content to match Think audience intent. Optimize your Do content to meet the challenges of digital – mobile and desktop. Start from scratch and invest in actually useful Care content.
This does not happen often (why, god, why not!!!)…
But it does happen from time to time. A CFO or a Big Consulting Company Executive takes over a team/company/area and they go all crazy about measurement. Huge systems are deployed, some people get hired too. It is sad.
Without great content, and an equally worthy marketing strategy across See-Think-Do-Care, data is almost completely useless. Scratch that. It is completely useless.
Combinations of the necessary trifecta are often more common.
This is OMG, so close! Great content, great marketing, without a great measurement strategy is a problem because how do you know that it is great? Or, that it sucks?
You need data!
Buy my books! Read this blog! : )
People often go on belief that they know what great content is and they know what great marketing is, because they can smell it. There might be something to it. But, one of the key learnings you'll get when you invest in See-Think-Do-Care content is that it is very hard to get it right based on the past or your experience. You need to experiment, and hence you'll need data. Ditto for marketing. Think about this, we are on our seventh iteration of what Facebook is good for when it comes to business. We know the first six iterations failed because we had data to prove that. If we'd listened to our convictions, or social media experts, we could have a bigger flaming crater around our company.
This one stinks less. That does not sound nice. Let's try again. This one optimizes for a local maxima and not a global maxima. Better?
Pairing up great content with great measurement will at least help you understand how your content is performing for the audiences you do end up finding organically. It can also help your company prioritize investments in the right areas.
But, without great marketing, great paid marketing, you are not going to get as big as you deserve to be. You don't have to unleash millions upon millions of dollars overnight. But, you need to build a great owned-earned-paid marketing strategy. [Bonus read: Digital Marketing: Five Deadly Myths De-mythified!]
This combination exists way more than I would like to admit, lots of marketing and lots of measurement and neither one of the two actually really obsessing about content.
And, you don't even have to go very far to see this manifested. Just open Google Analytics. How many metrics, dimensions and combination of both in reports do you see that obsess about content? And, how many do you see related to marketing?
It is not even close.
GA is a marketing tool, so perhaps this is not fair. But if not great content, what are we marketing in the first place? Yes, yes, products and services, but how do they manifest themselves on your online platforms? Content, right?
If you have a gun to your head, choose Content + Measurement. Or, even choose Content + Marketing. Try not to choose just Marketing + Measurement because, while it is so common, it is not going to cause you to win with strategies identified by the See-Think-Do-Care business framework.
Of course, the one we really want, the one I really want for you (!), is this one…
You build great content, really great content that meets the audience intent displayed by their behavior, in humble, polite, funny, inspiring, value-added ways. Then you unleash smart owned, earned and paid (perhaps in that order) marketing to find your largest addressable qualified audiences across desktop and mobile platform – on Google and YouTube and via Email and Display ads and Facebook and Baidu and Terra and more. Along the way, you execute the perfect digital measurement strategy across See-Think-Do-Care.
And that is how you break silos. That is how you solve for a global maxima.
If you've seen me present, you've likely seen this slide…
It expresses my deep passion for doing the right thing when it comes to our business strategy.
This is the second thing I love about the See-Think-Do-Care business framework. It forces and evaluation of the complete business strategy. It incentives everyone in the company to do the right thing and care of the other other pieces that might not directly be a part of their job description.
Bonus: Thing Three.
A great percentage of you read this blog both for the digital marketing and digital analytics thoughts. For those of you in the latter category, I wanted to share a small bonus.
It is always difficult for marketers or CxOs to invest in content and marketing strategies for audiences where there is no commercial intent (See), or sometimes even audiences with weak commercial intent (Think). Some even oppose, even those this is terrible, investing smartly in Care audience intent.
The belief is that these are hard to measure (and, so perhaps how to earn the annual salary increase / equity grant / bonus).
Here are the metrics I recommend as a starting point for those initiatives.
As you can see. You don't have to hold your See content and marketing initiatives hostage to an immediate conversion rate (and judge a fish by it's ability to climb a tree!). You can use the four metrics outlined above (they go from easy to hard, in each cluster).
Ditto for Think, Do and Care.
One of the reasons Lifetime Value is pretty much a bust in current measurement strategies is because we execute it as a Do, when really it is all about Care!
Align your metrics optimally with audience intent (and desired business outcome).
I hope you'll stop your companies from judging fish by their ability to climb trees.
As always, it is your turn now.
Has your company adopted the See-Think-Do-Care business framework? If not (come on!), is there are different framework being used? Do you, or your agency on your behalf, consciously invest in See-Think-Do-Care content uniquely to meet the audience's intent? Thinking macro, are you investing optimally in content, marketing and measurement? Or, is it lop-sided (as sadly is often the case)? If you were Queen/King of the world and had to change where your company is investing, which category would you prioritize higher? Are you using the above metrics to measure See-Think-Do-Care content and marketing success? Something else?
Please share your tips, tricks, critique, stories and guidance via comments below.