If you accomplished your bucket list, but couldn’t talk about it or share your stories over a beer, it just wouldn’t be the same.

Humans are inherently social and new research further underscores just how hardwired we are.

As noted in a recent Keller Fay Group blog, “human brains take longer to develop than the brains of any other species— more than twenty years following birth— our survival has always depended on our ability to obtain care and support from others.”

Research from a variety of scientific fields is helping us better understand how connected we are to others and the extent that those around us influence our decisions.

These insights have huge implications for marketing. Conventional wisdom says that a compelling and creative message with a strong call to action will motivate people to act.  Even with the best marketing campaigns, nothing is that simple.

Think about going out to eat. This fairly arbitrary choice is not made in isolation, a conversation (or three depending on who else is going) takes place before heading out.

Just last week, I was watching a McDonald’s ad and immediately texted a co-worker, “McRib is back.”

At DMR/Interactive, we believe that when done well, marketing helps start conversations and because of these conversations with friends, family and co-workers, people make decisions, which determine their brand preferences.

Look at Black Friday. The ads, by definition, are conversation starters. Shop online, camp out at a store or do both?

There’s only so much time and holiday spending to go around and retailers need to be part of the conversations that consumers are having. K-Mart even just brought back Blue Light Specials to get themselves back into the conversation.

Leveraging people’s need to be social is one of radio’s core strengths. After all, thousands of people across town simultaneously listening to the same song on the same station cannot be replicated by Pandora, a Spotify playlist or an on-demand music video on YouTube. People have individual tastes, but first we’re social beings. This inherent difference in consumption makes theirs a fundamentally different product.

Last week, our then undefeated Cincinnati Bengals were hosting Monday Night Football and our city was getting ready for the game. In fact, a HOT AC station played the team’s theme song “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N Roses in its entirety three hours before kickoff. The station was reflecting the mood of the city.

“I See Better Than I Hear”

Speaking of the Bengals, when Coach Marvin Lewis arrived in town, the organization was the doormat of the NFL. As he began the long journey of rebuilding, he regularly uttered this phrase, “I see better than I hear.” Especially when asked to comment on something that one of his players had said in the media.

Turns out Coach Lewis is not alone.

In a recent study published in the Harvard Business Review, Peer Observation has demonstrated the ability to have the same consumer impact as Word of Mouth marketing.

One of the strategic opportunities in this arena is to “think about distinctive branding for the product in use.” For Apple, the white earbuds associated with the iPod and iPhone are no accident. When the device is in their pocket, you can still spot an Apple user.

A listener would never tell a co-worker, “Don’t touch my radio, I’m listening for Today’s Best Variety.” However, they would say, “Don’t touch my radio, after this song I’m going to Double My Paycheck.” In fact, Amplifiers will extend the conversation (and the station’s marketing reach) further by inviting their co-worker to play along. Sounds simplistic, but it happens every day. We have the user data to identify your Super-Fans by name, which maximizes the power of Peer Observation and Word of Mouth Marketing.

For Coke, which is seeing consumption habits erode, it’s no longer enough for people to be seen having a bottle in their hand. Coke needs to “win the group” as the researchers of this study describe it, which is the strategy behind the Share a Coke campaign with first names printed on the label so that friends and co-workers can enjoy a Coke together.

Understanding the power of the group dynamic, our clients regularly empower their street teams to Surprise and Delight the most valuable workplaces where we have identified a Super-Fan or Amplifier. They don’t bring stuff just for one, they bring enough to “win the group” and secure workplace listening, no matter who is near the radio.

Likewise, the strategies we design for clients are optimized to generate conversation about the station and maximize Peer Observation and usage. It’s how we help brands Engage. Amplify. WIN!

How do you leverage the impact of your audience’s desire to be social and the emerging power of Peer Observation? Send us an email or post a comment.

Thanks for reading and Happy Thanksgiving.

– Andrew Curran, President and COO, DMR/Interactive



  1. […] are also big fans of the Keller Fay Group and their work highlighting the value of real relationships in the mobile and digital […]

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