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Mine the Bandwagon Effect to Attract Customers, Build Growth & Validation

By Robert Wheatley//August 1, 2023//

Mine the Bandwagon Effect to Attract Customers, Build Growth & Validation

By: Robert Wheatley//August 1, 2023//

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Consumers are a fickle and wary bunch. For example, people tend to believe if something is “popular” it has been vetted and validated. Thus, it’s less risky to purchase. This matters because risk is the number one barrier that must be overcome to attract new customers. Since consumers are fundamentally worried about making bad decisions, your marketing plan must include intentional trust-building strategies aimed at erasing any concerns of “failing to deliver on the promise.” 

Trust creation manifests through:

  • Transparency to your supply chain on how and where your ingredients are sourced 
  • Clear standards and commitments on ingredient quality 
  • Deployment of third-party experts to corroborate and verify what you want people to believe 
  • Using an honest, authentic and very “human” voice in your brand communication 
  • Amplifying emotion, deeper meaning and brand purpose that transcends overt selling 

Your goal is to be the most trusted brand in the business while understanding that trust is always earned and never claimed. Your behaviors in this area are more important as actions speak louder and more convincingly than words. 

While these fundamentals weigh heavily in reducing perceptions of risk, we find another tool is frequently overlooked as an effective method of validation. We refer to it as the trust-building Bandwagon Effect. 

The basic principle of the effect is that you can convey an added value of confirmation of truth by virtue of the wider array of outlets where your story is appearing. This principle applies equally to retail trade outreach as it does to consumer-facing communication. 

For the most part, this is a timing and concentration strategy that recommends firing all guns at once across relevant channels of outreach. When your brand shows up in multiple media locations simultaneously, the impression this leaves with people is “must be important and worthy of consideration.” 


The credibility of earned and social channels 

Occasionally the medium is indeed the message. Earned media carries an inherent credibility factor because it is seen as objective “reporting” rather than advocating. Reporters conduct due diligence to produce stories and so the tone and tenor of what is conveyed is viewed as vetted by an independent third party.  

Similarly, social channels are powerful because they are a form of digital word-of-mouth. When your users report on their personal experiences it carries the credibility of real experience from a trusted source (or a relatable source of a user ‘just like me’). Your social channels can be an important mechanism of proof-of-performance told through the experiences of real people in real life conditions. It is the brand’s job to encourage and support community sharing to enable this form of online conversation. 


Proper deployment of paid media 

All-too-often in the pet food industry we find conventional advertising is focused on specsmanship, based on analytical arguments around protein percentages or other nutritional ingredients. While these facts and proof points are not irrelevant, the role they play in effectiveness is confirmation of a wise purchase decision after the fact, not as the trigger to purchase decisions. 

Pet parents are feeling creatures who think and not thinking creatures who feel. Hence, emotion is the better path to spur on actions and decisions. There is a treasure trove of opportunities in front of you to mine the powerful, emotionally resonant and transformative relationships consumers have with furry family members. It is a far more influential and memorable story arc that compels people to act (in this case selecting your brand) – than any recitation of facts and figures. 


Role of brand in your story 

Let’s also embrace that the consumer must be the hero of your brand story. They are the focus. The brand should not compete with your users for the hero role. Your advertising should be a reflection and mirror of their journey. The brand’s role in communication in paid or non-paid channels of outreach is that of coach, guide and educator aimed at helping improve the health and wellbeing of their pets and their pet-centric lifestyle. 

When you combine trust building tactics and messaging with simultaneous multiple channel outreach techniques, you are activating a credible Bandwagon Effect that imbues the message with greater importance and validity. Primarily a timing consideration, organize your communications strategies and assets to layer together so the effectiveness is maximized across channels. 

In this way perception helps drive reality and the outcomes of your marketing investments are optimized.