The Head Down Revolution

Woman on city street looking at smartphone

If you live in a major metro market, then you know what it’s like to walk down the street and see 90% of the people with their heads down buried in their phone. I was one of those people, until I found myself standing in the middle of the street in Manhattan writing a text and nearly getting hit by a taxi. From that point on, I made sure that I was always looking up. But I am definitely in the minority. And this post is not about the safety, or lack thereof, when it comes to texting. It’s about how marketers can capitalize on this Head Down Revolution.

According to Statista, the U.S. mobile phone penetration has reached 81%, representing 223 million consumers. And those consumers spend an average of 4.7 hours per day glued to their smartphones. More importantly, is the role that texting now plays in our everyday lives, especially when it comes to marketing. For an eye-opening example, texts have a 99% open rate compared to 20% for email*. Pretty amazing, huh? Now I imagine that smartphones are currently in the midst of fine tuning their hardware to introduce features that can block such correspondence. But who knows when that will come?

So until that day, marketers have a humongous opportunity to take advantage and focus their outbound efforts on the behaviors of the smartphone user. A behavior that is now second nature, and while receiving a text from a brand may seem like a nuisance at first, it is certainly less of one than an email. Also, if you’re sending info or content that isn’t selling, but more serving them something of value, then you’re more likely to be able to maintain that dialogue.

And isn’t a dialogue what we want? It opens the door, and leads to traffic. And when you have enough traffic, ultimately it will lead to transactions. It’s this approach to marketing, partnered with the aforementioned tactics, that can build the awareness and engagement you’re looking for.

Now how about a little “social experiment”: The next time you’re walking down the street, take note of how many people’s’ heads are down. It truly is a sight to see. Just think, those eyes could be engaged in your brands message. And if the message is “timed” to when your customer is in the market for a new product, it becomes relevant and timely — a very powerful combination.

*Credits: Jack Loechner — Editor of The Center for Media Research; SinglePoint; Statista

I think I trust you…

HTSAF_iThinkiA survey* was recently released with two startling statistics that revealed 42% of consumers found brands less trustworthy today, while 48% believed brands can have a positive impact on the world. Now those are two opposite sides of the spectrum if we ever saw one. But more importantly, how do we bridge this interesting divide?

After going through some thoughts about politics they touched on the most interesting path: Understanding the culture of your target consumer and effectively tapping into it remain key. So, building your brand and its identity around a cultural insight is paramount. Find it. Inspire and positively provoke your target with it. Then craft and design your creative campaign around it.

Lastly, be relentless in searching out these cultural insights. Remember, insights are not facts. They are something you discover about your brand or consumers that no one else can own. They belong to you. So say “NO” to the obvious. Reject the ordinary. And, initiate around the extraordinary. So who’s bridging this gap today, you ask? Here are a few off the top of our heads:

  • Subaru — Recognition for LGBT campaign
  • Tesla — Being forthright about their mistakes, and fixing them
  • Chick-fil-A — Authentic and plain spoken
  • Dove — Authenticity and respect through their  “Love the skin you’re in” campaign

What Sparks Our Fire? Waking up everyday searching for insights that emotionally connect brands with consumers.

*The ‘Truth About America’ report from McCann




Ah Millennials, how we love them so. I mean, where would we be without them? With their authentic, multi-tasking, fun-loving, witty and entitled charm. They’ve truly brought the world together and made it a brighter place. Well, some of that’s true. They for sure have mastered the art of what we are calling “Groupification”.

When it comes to the act of groupification, there are three important areas to make note of. For one, Originality. Millennials often respond to, and actively cultivate their friends around unique and original brand experiences. They will take “authenticity over superficiality” any day of the week. Second is Purpose. Brands with a purpose have a transcendent value that allows them to enhance and enlighten the diverse experience of their lives. And coming in third, but perhaps the most unique of all is what we call Planned Spontaneity, where instant gratification is immediately met. When your brand makes it seem as though something is randomly taking place, but it’s been planned all along. Like when it looks like a shopper is taking a used car out for a ride, but then is taken for the ride of his life courtesy of Jeff Gordon and Pepsi Max. Now that’s something that not only gets the blood pumping, but also has you wanting to share the hell out of.

These all directly contribute to the art of Groupification, and are subconsciously considered by Millennials. And as marketers, if we’re trying to connect (with Millennials), then we need to check these boxes. Especially in the digital space. We want them to come in herds to experience what we’re putting out there. We need to turn the page on 1:1 marketing, and start thinking more like 1:10 or 1:1000. Ask yourself, “How can we deliver a campaign, message or experience that enables our consumer to create a forum for all to enjoy?”

Now, while this is specifically for Millennials, others are certainly starting to take on the same principles. At the heart of it, it’s about what your consumer is thinking, doing and ultimately what they value. Deliver on these, and your consumers will be moved to experience your brand, product or service… together.