Customer Segmentation and Audience Targeting With DISC

Customer segmentation and audience targeting are among the preliminary actions in the advancement of a marketing plan. A central perception of consumer behavior therefore is requisite and necessary for establishing a baseline of ideal candidates. Yet individuals are driven by unique priorities, and thus traditional methods of gaining insight tend to be subjective in nature. Categorization of consumers is often based on anecdotal evidence, yet the application of a scientific approach is more objective, and thus may offer a more effective line of affect.

Kurt Lewin, a psychologist known for his pioneering innovations in social, organizational and applied psychology in the former part of the twentieth century, experimented with systems of behavioral partitioning, and established Lewin’s equation:

B equals the function of P & E

Where B is behavior, P is person and E is environment. Behavior as a function of the individual’s interaction with their surroundings is derived from Lewin’s field theory, which states that environment can be experienced differently for varied conditions, even for the same person, depending on the psychological profile.

Dominance Influencing Steadiness Compliance/Conscientious

Lewin went further to evolve the DISC personality assessment, which divides personalities into four motivating drivers: dominance, influencing, steadiness and compliance/conscientious. Broken down into simpler terms, these are:

  • Dominance – focused on assignment, driven by a need to get things accomplished, concerned with the bottom line.
  • Influencing – concerned with social status, enthusiastic, wants to be popular and accepted.
  • Steadiness – caring about the welfare of others, allegiance and protection are priorities, takes time in execution of tasks and decisions.
  • Compliance/Conscientious – focused on specifics and requirements, demands data, slow to decide.

While these behavior portrayals are often displayed in a four quadrant diagram as pictured above, a linear display may be more useful in describing how these personality types approach the buying decision.

Dominance Influencing Steadiness Compliance/Conscientious

Moving in a direction from left to right determines how quickly a decision may be reached, from faster to slower. While there is certainly no guarantee in every case, by and large this hypothesis can be relied upon in a majority of instances. Moving from right to left governs the amount of informational data that will be typically required from the buyer much of the time to reach a decision, with the tendency trending from more to less. Prospective customers in the middle will classically prioritize benefit for others, while personal benefit may be more attractive to those on either end.

Factors in buying decisions generally evolve around electronic word of mouth (eWOM), with importance of focus on dimensions of volume, channels used and credibility. Peer referrals are favored over those sponsored by the brand, and hosting sites for these statistics can be found through search engines by entering the product or service name and the term “review”. Including these elements as part of an integrated marketing communications strategy can be effective in the formation of proper customer segmentation and the derivation of a carefully targeted audience.

Developing customer assessment procedures for promotion of marketplace offerings can lend an augmentation to the early founding of a well-established marketing plan, one which can be assistive in the development of marketing tactics finely tuned to individual prospective clientele and based soundly on scientific principles.

How do you currently categorize potential customers? Are you using behavioral assessment in your customer segmentation and audience targeting efforts? Have these proven successful in an amplified marketing ROI? Please share any thoughts you might have in the comments below, and feel free to join the discussion.

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Storytelling: A Narrative Approach to Marketing

Who doesn’t love a good story? They are the foundation of television shows and movies, of songs and art. In many ways they are the essence of our very lives. We communicate with each other through stories more often than any other form of information exchange. And the more intriguing, the better. Often stories are embellished in the retelling, making them more exciting, compelling the listener’s interest and amplifying attention. But why do we relate so to storytelling? How can we leverage this connection to promotional endeavors?

In the dawn of human history storytelling was an important function in day-to-day existence. The hunter provided meat, the gatherer delivered medicinal herbs, but it was the storyteller that afforded distraction from the harsh conditions in which people dwelled. Thus entertainment became an important component to life; even before we understood mental health as a concept, we comprehended its significance.

Living the experience

We relate so closely to storytelling, and indeed to experiences of all types, through the empathy of mirror neurons. These brain cells allow us to be subjected to the very same sensations felt by others during their occurrence as though we were having the encounter ourselves. Consider the pulse pounding thrill of a roller coaster ride while watching a film of the event. From a neurological standpoint, the incident is indistinguishable from the actual event, and can elicit the same physical reactions such as increased heart rate, queasiness, etc. The same holds true for emotional involvement; we identify with what is happening as though we are undergoing the episode personally, and in real time.

In the course of hearing or watching, various neurotransmitter chemicals are released across the synapses which amplify the experience – norepinephrine during fear and agitation, dopamine and serotonin from pleasure, happiness and contentment. A well recounted narrative can evoke the same emotional response conveyed as participating in the action. This is the essence of being, “in the moment.”

Storytelling in content marketing offers a  valuable tactical approach.

Distraction offers release, and entertainment offers value. These benefits may be effectively exploited in the promotional delivery of the integrated marketing communication. Use of storytelling in content marketing strategies proposes a viable approach, one which is sustainable throughout the extent of the customer life cycle. By incorporating an amusing and diverting anecdote within the context of helpful information we can achieve a value added contribution to the advertising message delivered to the targeted audience.

Storytelling as a narrative tactic in neuromarketing endeavors is best practice. Bonding with the consumer in ways that are intimately experiential can create connections which may offer a practicable method of acquiring new customers as well as being a technique which strengthens customer retention, builds brand recognition and bolsters brand loyalty.

Have you made use of storytelling in your content marketing plan? Has this been a successful approach for your firm? Please share your experiences in the comments below. If you know of a colleague that might find this article helpful, we hope you will share it them.

And join us again next week as Grannelle brings you more academically viable insight into the disciplines of eMarketing, social media and other Web 2.0 interests!

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Customer Service in Social Commerce

Social media marketing has evolved alongside a newly developing business model – social commerce. Social commerce (sCommerce) offers value to firms. Recent research has demonstrated a benefit developed for business operations from the mutual associations copied from the interactions with consumers provided by Web 2.0 technologies related to social channels. Many advantages possibly will be consequent from this paradigm. One example of how these gains may be effected includes customer service.


Customer service requires a timely response via SM channels. While Facebook and Twitter are most often utilized, other channels have also been exploited. The dependency lies within consumer attendance, and a readiness to be responsive with as much immediacy as can be rallied. It is therefore incumbent upon the firm to find creative ways of establishing dialogue within the applicable SNS. Trends in digital marketing today are centering on a more focused approach to customer-centric marketing tactics. Interaction is the cornerstone of social media communication, one which more and more marketers are embracing.

Collaboration between marketplace participants, i.e. sellers and buyers, collectively referred to as the “network,” engenders benefit in a cost-effective manner. Further advantage can be found through network appearance online, with vendors optimizing network accessibility in a user-friendly manner receiving the most value from the paradigm. Customer service optimally delivered across the network may then provide CRM efficacy with a possible outcome of enhanced brand loyalty secondary to the network effects typically associated with viral messaging amongst purchasers, additionally supplementing the numbers of brand evangelists. This is the very essence of social currency, which in its turn helps to define an amplified return on social media investment (social ROI) in online marketing campaigns. Enlargement of the brand’s virtual community, while increasing the value offered to the membership, can asymmetrically boost the firm’s financial bottom line.

The associated value to all stakeholders is well documented. The purchase process as well as the informational exchange that occur in or resulting from participation in social media channels have been ranked with top priority in sCommerce.

Don't be left out in the cold when it comes to customer service.
As such, customer service and concomitant CRM activities are endorsed as an optimal sCommerce strategy within an overarching social media marketing plan. Much of the groundwork for companies already vested in social media marketing has already been laid, with little more to do other than initiate the added approach already described.

Companies availing themselves of the attendant benefit of customer service in sCommerce will find the value of the social ROI to be well worth the time, effort and other resources expended. Further monetary gains may arise as a secondary outcome as well.

Is your firm including a customer service initiative within their social media marketing plans? Do you have other insights that readers may find helpful in this respect? We’d appreciate your sharing them in the comments below, as well as communicating this post in other channels by using the share buttons.

Thanks for joining us on Grannelle. Bring your friends and come back next week as another timely topic in eMarketing is explored!

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Digital Chameleons: Public Relations in Social Media

Hallowed tradition dictates the domains of public relations (PR) and marketing are clearly delineated, with a borderline that is sacrosanct and not to be contested. Yet in today’s digital business paradigm that demarcation is being ever-increasingly blurred. Both promotional and communicative strategies are trending toward the myriad social media, whose own provinces require a shift in the exemplars of both disciplines. Brand ownership now lies in the hands and minds of the consumer, and marketing as well as PR must bend to the will of the buyer. Just as the halcyon days of unlimited budgeting without need for metric relevance are a thing of the past, so too are presumptions of the reins of brand ownership being held by the firm’s top management.

If you aren’t fond of the current state of social media, wait a week or so; it’ll change.

Two of the top challenges facing firms in their digital communications and social media campaigns relative to PR are buy-in at the executive level and a need to optimally manage the messaging interactions through online channels.

Buy-in at the executive level has been a particularly knotty problem for some industries, perhaps most notably for the field of journalism. Consumers have little faith in the corporate voice, choosing instead to place their confidence in fellow customers. The prescriptions of spin doctors are viewed with a jaundiced eye in the marketplace, and rulings in communication channels are in a state of flux. It is therefore of little wonder why top management has been reticent to adopt the modern media venues.

It therefore falls to a new brand of administrator to manage the strategic campaigns of corporate communications. Areas of concern in tactical planning and the concomitant tasks for executive oversight include procedural outlining, working with associates, technology assessment and choice, systematizing and structuring of social media messages and communications, problem solving and analytics assessment. These spheres of influence have lately become the responsibilities of PR professionals.

We have to stop talking at customers and start talking with them.

Social media adoption has been highly influential on both accounts. The necessity of dialogue with the purchasing public has changed PR messaging from a broadcast archetype into a model which is more conversational, from a one-way communications standard into a two-way paradigm in which information is shared with the prospective consumers vs issued to them.

While complete acceptance by all stakeholders has yet to be realized, use of social media as the primary communications channel by PR professionals is slowly being adopted and the benefits derived from the approach are being realized on a widespread basis. Time will be needed, however, before the transition from traditional to digital media strategies are complete.

Do you agree that the landscape has changed in both PR and marketing as a result of social media adoption? We’d love to hear your opinions in the comments below. If you think others in your social graph would be interested, please share this content – simply choose your preferred social media channel from the buttons provided.

And we invite you to join us again next week for another incursion into the business applications of social media and Web 2.0 here on Grannelle.

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Buy Buttons: A Social Commerce Innovation

In the new millennium consumers continue to wait for two things: the killer app and flying cars. The killer app is an odds-on fave to arrive first. In the meantime the appearance of buy buttons have ushered in a new phase of eCommerce, more appropriately termed social commerce, or commerce that is integrated into social media, also referred to as social media marketing. About the same time social media in its modern form began to receive notice and gain in popularity (around 2005), marketers were quick to adopt the technology as a strategic tool for the promotion of brands and as a communications channel. Facebook, having gained the most acceptance among social media users, has become so much of a destination for firms wishing to engage with consumers that a new method of eCommerce has been coined – Facebook commerce, or fCommerce.

Buy Buttons

Buy buttons are accessed inside an app within a social media platform. The app allows entrance of the customer’s credit card information, thus completing the purchase cycle directly, without need to interface with the vendor’s Website. Buy buttons are designed to allow users to conduct shopping transactions without having to exit the site. Such an arrangement allows for exciting new monetization possibilities for businesses of all types and sizes, especially in social media applications. With online spending reaching into the trillions of dollars, it’s easy to understand why tech companies in particular are enthusiastic over the potential offered by this innovative form of social commerce.

Social buttons serve the dual purpose of providing KPI’s while also offering a historic data stream; their utilization constructs the added dimension of augmented connectivity to online engagement in social networking sites (SNS). Consumer partiality to access the digital domain via their hand held devices combined with a fondness for visual content creates an opportunity for commerce via SNS which is cost-effective and readily accessible. Monitoring of social media metrics may offer benefits such as an increase in brand recognition, nurturing lead development and augmenting sales conversions, and doing so in an economical manner with little added investment.

Social commerce has the potential to readily enhance profitability for businesses while reducing transactional costs at the same time. Pinterest is currently the leader in the use of buy buttons. Pinterest uses image-based content centered on fashion, entertainment, functional arrangement and crafts along with information-seeking abilities on these devotions. Facebook and Instagram are also looking closely into incorporating social buttons into their marketing mix subscriptions.

Danger - Buy Buttons in use

Yet not all aspects of buy buttons may be advantageous. Greed may drive excitement and provide an experience of thrill-seeking behavior in those individuals whose personal identities are strengthened and reinforced by material possessions, and may have such demeanors. Compulsive shopping can be described as an addictive behavior, secondary to the prompt to the dopamine reward system, an effect similar to that experienced in habituating drugs. Some users may be at risk in these respects, and more study is warranted to determine whether warnings should be posted on sites using buy buttons along with resources for afflicted users to be able to find help if needed.

Buy buttons represent an example of how social media has been impacted and changed by technology. Whether it will prove to be advantageous or detrimental remains to be seen, however.

What do you think of the possibilities offered with buy buttons? Are they the future of social commerce, or merely another momentary distraction to marketer’s attention – a flash in the pan as it were? Let us know in the comments below. And join us again next week as Grannelle continues to investigate the latest innovations in eCommerce.

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Academic Case Study: Cause Marketing Metrics

Every Little Thing Is Really a Big Deal

Cause-marketing differs from corporate philanthropy; the latter simply seeks to donate resources, typically in the form of capital reserves. Cause-marketing involves the inclusion of both the efforts of the firm as well as a charitable foundation, or “cause,” to promote their combined business marketing interests (Samu & Wymer, 2014).  Studies indicate positive consumer subjective response when engaging in cause-marketing promotions (Andrews, Luo, Fang, & Aspara, 2014). Yet KPI’s are needed to fully assess any marketing effort, cause-related or otherwise.

Target partnered with the Kids in Need Foundation for a campaign titled, Every Little Thing Is Really a Big Deal, in which school-supply items were donated to the charity; for every item purchased by consumers, an identical article was contributed. In determining relevant metrics for the strategy, a definition of success is needed. In this case, success is described as campaign awareness, especially conversation in social media channels. A correlation has been shown between consumer cognizance and the public relations influences of IMC (Alshurideh, Shaltoni, & Hijawi, 2014).

Quantitative metrics used to gauge campaign awareness would include hashtags, as well as retweets and shares, dependent on the social media channel being utilized. Peer-reviewed studies indicate an association between neuronal activity and the timeliness of hashtag relevance may offer prognostic Twitter recognition and attractiveness (Ceyda & Renaud, 2015). As the Every Little Thing Is Really a Big Deal campaign exists in one respect as an act of corporate social responsibility on the part of Target, communication of the stratagem leading to campaign awareness becomes highly relevant.

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) would be a choice for a qualitative metric, in which consumer experience is taken into account. The NPS has been shown to be advantageous in indications of repeat buying behavior and marketplace offering and firm recommendation by customers, and appears to be no more or less valuable than other subjective capacities (van Doorn, Leeflang, & Tijs, 2013).

Suitable equilibrium between objective and subjective KPI’s is skewed toward emphasis on quantitative metrics, i.e. hashtags, retweets and shares. While the NPS is certainly symptomatic, some suggest its use may be less than optimal, especially in patron allegiance (Schulman & Sargeant, 2013). Follow-up strategies should therefore be dependent on reliable data assessments.

Campaign success would suggest an ongoing crusade in an effort to capitalize on the positive public perceptions and the validation of corporate social responsibility endeavors of Target, as well as continued support of the Kids in Need Foundation.  Lack of accomplishment is certainly no rationale for abandonment, but rather calls for reconsideration and revision of the marketing plan, using further consumer research to determine a more efficacious approach.


Alshurideh, M. T., Shaltoni, A. M., & Hijawi, D. S. (2014). Marketing Communications Role in Shaping Consumer Awareness of Cause-Related Marketing Campaigns. International Journal of Marketing Studies, 163-168.

Andrews, M., Luo, X., Fang, Z., & Aspara, J. (2014). Cause Marketing Effectiveness and the Moderating Role of Price Discounts. Journal of Marketing, 120-142.

Ceyda, S., & Renaud, L. (2015). Local Variation of Hashtag Spike Trains and Popularity in Twitter: e0131704. PLoS One, 1-18.

Samu, S., & Wymer, W. (2014). Cause marketing communications. European Journal of Marketing, 1333-1353.

Schulman, K., & Sargeant, A. (2013). Measuring donor loyalty: key reasons why Net Promoter Score (NPS) is not the way. International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing, 1-6.

van Doorn, J., Leeflang, P. S., & Tijs, M. (2013). Satisfaction as a predictor of future performance: A replication. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 314-318.



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Ho-Ho, Uh Oh: A Case Study on Unethical Marketing

It’s the end of the year, and with the associated holidays, time for another look at the issues facing marketing professionals and academics in the social media industry. This week we examine social responsibility, and in particular a situation in which things went terribly wrong.

Ethics in marketing graphic

Caveat emptor? In the modern digital era, perhaps caveat venditor (warning to seller) is better advice. “Let the buyer beware,” is a philosophy that has been largely discarded in favor of corporate social responsibility (CSR) secondary to the rise in acceptance and use of social media by companies and the consumer communities that support them. This move can be directly attributed to the two-way communication capabilities inherent. Today’s savvy buyers are much more aware about what they buy, with more than 8 out of 10 prospective customers investigating Internet sources prior to purchasing products and services. With the majority of buyers being so well-informed, ethical marketing decisions become mission critical.

Yet incidents of so-called black hat marketing practices persist in the online domain. This becomes problematic since research shows observed unethical marketing practices reduce and diminish consumer faith.

In an ever escalating effort to reach audiences, some marketers have embraced the concept of shock value in an effort to position their marketplace offerings as edgy; an example of such attempts can be found in a video titled Top 10: Scariest/Creepiest Commercials. These efforts can sometimes border on the offensive, however, and in so doing cross into the domain of unethical behavior. This was arguably the case when Hyundai’s ad agency, Innocean, released an advertisement designated ‘Pipe Job’, in which a man commits a failed suicide attempt via asphyxiation by breathing the exhaust of a Hyundai ix35. Intended to demonstrate the ecologically safe feature of the car, e.g. 100% water emissions, and do so with strategic outcomes of viewers sharing the video across social networking sites; it instead resulted in a backlash of public outrage and was quickly removed.

Initial industry response to the ad was positive, but the approval proved to be short-lived. Within days of release London ad copywriter Holly Brockwell posted a blog in which she related how her father had ended his own life in a similar manner and included a copy of the suicide note he had written.

The most scathing indictment was the blog post itself, in which the marketing professional’s heartbreaking viewing experience is related in open letter format to the auto maker and its advertising agency. The video was described as “tasteless,” “mocking,” and “hopelessly crass,” by Time online journalist Matt Peckham.

Designations of marketing communication approaches described as unethical are very often subjective in nature, and are rooted in social comparison theory. In the Pipe Job ad, criticism related to the insensitivity to the tragic circumstances encountered by the victims and their families of suicide. As one whose close family member violently ended their own life, the author is in agreement with the critic’s assessment. The impact of suicide on family members is significant and complex, and bereaved family members experience feelings of depression and vulnerability which may persist for substantial time periods. Family and friends may be devastated, and can suffer emotional states of fault, catastrophe, antagonism, bewilderment and anguish. While the commercial was quickly pulled by Hyundai, Pipe Job remains as a disastrous instance of unethical online marketing.

We hope you found insight and edification from this, the last Grannelle blog post of 2015. Grannelle will be taking some time off to celebrate another year and will return after the first of January to bring you more original academically viable content designed for professionals, instructors and students. We’d like to offer the opportunity to follow us by subscribing; just click the link to the right. Please join us then, and in the meantime we wish you the very best of continued success in the days to come!

Happy holiday wishes from the Grannelle pups

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