The Marketer’s Five Key Questions, Synchronicity, and the College Party


ADOTAS — The psychologist Carl Jung described the concept of synchronicity in the 1920s and Sting wrote a pretty good song by the same name in the 1980s. Synchronicity suggests that seemingly unrelated events are sometimes connected via a kind of karmic parallel.

I like trying to find synchronicities. Who cares if they’re evidence of a deeper order? They’re just fun.

The other day I was in conversation with an executive who was sharing his overall strategy for driving engagement with customers and prospects, and I was suddenly struck by a bolt of synchronicity: I realized that the questions he was asking were the same ones that boggled my little Albuquerque mind 20 years ago when I attended parties thrown by my hyper-social, uncivilized college roommates.

To understand how today’s marketer approaches the challenge of engaging with people across channels and screens, we need to go back to the future. That’s right; we need to re-live what it was like for me to go to a party in college.

Visualize this with me: It’s 1990 and I’m walking home from the library at 1 a.m. Upon my arrival at home, I hear “The Gas Face” by 3rd Bass booming on my roommates’ speakers and smell the stench of cheap alcohol. I walk in and there are a lot of strangers that I’ve never seen before, bouncing around. Disoriented and unhappy, I find Kevin, the ringleader roommate and chief troublemaker, and I angrily ask him the first key question:

1. “Who the hell are all these people?”

“Chill out, Tom, they’re friends,” Kevin responds in his too-cool-for-school drawl.  He forces a red cup into my hand and instructs me to “pound it.”  Irritated, I take a small sip and make my way to my room.

I make a show of going to bed but the noise is just too much.  Plus, there’s a lot of giggling and laughing outside my door.  I come back out and cautiously say “hi” to a few strangers, several from nearby universities — friends of friends visiting for the weekend. All of them are pretty friendly. “Maybe this isn’t so bad after all,” I think.

I take another sip from my red cup. Kevin shuffles his way through the crowd and says, “Great party, huh?” “It’s OK,” I offer.

Still, I’m perplexed, so I ask Kevin the second key question:

2. “How did all these people get here?”

“Tom, you know I’m the man!” says Kevin. “I’m the reason all of these people are here, and you know what?  All those pretty girls over there just want to talk to you. High five! Don’t leave me hanging, bro.”

Another roommate, Jon, overhears Kevin taking all the credit and gets belligerent: “That’s B.S., Kev.  I got the word out to my man over at Boston University, and I personally called that entire group of girls over there. I deserve at least 80 percent of the credit.”

Kevin and Jon start bickering about credit, which is mildly amusing but seems unanswerable, especially after all the sips I’ve taken from my red cup. I decide to move on and meet some new people. I start talking to a group from a nearby college. Shockingly, a really attractive girl asks me to dance.  I start busting moves.  She and her friends are totally impressed, which is awesome and confusing to me at the same time.  In my mind, I wonder:

3.  “Why do these people like me?  Is it me, or is the red cup playing tricks on me?”

I decide that, with all of these incredible moves, it must just be me.  So, to the girl I’m dancing with, I say:

4. “You guys are great!  How do we find more party people like you?”

By this time, I’ve completely forgotten my initial consternation and have even managed to complement her. I feel like I’m right where I belong, enjoying the sights and sounds and the pure deliciousness in my red cup, which remains miraculously full.

Around this time, Kevin, comes and puts his arm around me. “You need to convert, dude. Ask that girl you’re dancing with for her number.”

I take a final sip from the red cup. As liquid courage fills my belly, I decide to go for it.

5. “Hey, uh, well… I was wondering, can I call you some time?”

She asks her friend for a pen and writes her number on my hand. I go to my room, and with all the reverence of a rabbi transcribing passages from the Dead Sea Scrolls, I copy the sacred digits onto a large piece of unmarked paper.

If you’re a marketer looking to answer the same questions, here’s a short answer key:

Who are all these people? People intelligence that goes beyond shipping ads or counting pages and clicks to deliver three-dimensional, real-time awareness of anyone engaging in any way with your brand – users, prospects, customers, purchasers, drive-bys, occasionals, zealots.

How did these people get here? Attribution intelligence that, through a combination of policy-managed tag serving, web-wide visibility, and Big Data, measures every stopping point of your consumer’s journey.

Why do these people like me? Content and experience analytics that tell you ‘what’s working’ by measuring and making sense of every scrap of engagement data (views, mouse-overs, clicks, downloads, purchases, registrations, etc.) across every screen.

How do we find more of these people? Connectivity solutions that allow you to build a ‘truth set’ from your own data and use it to amplify your signal across online/offline and web channels to bring more of the right people to your brand – with total portability and retained ownership over your data.

Who is close to converting? Funnel management that works ‘downward’ and ‘upward’: downward, by allowing you to apply first- and third-party data to model multiple paths of your consumer’s journey towards conversion; upward, by applying attribution in reverse to pinpoint programmatically who is closest to taking action.



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