understanding audiences

Are we really understanding audiences?

This March we had the pleasure of attending the WXG conference in Guildford. A wonderfully put together event by Kyan and Wirehive. Great venue, great speakers, and delicious food! There was a great variety of topics, which all combined left me wondering; are the creative industries really doing their best when it comes to understanding audiences?

understanding audiences

The Mix

The first presentation from Tash Walker from The Mix, specialists in Applied Human Behaviour, was one of the most polished talks I have ever seen. Impressive work for the morning shift! And it was packed with great insight too. It also resulted in a photo of me wearing a sleep mask on the WXG twitter page…
WXG Lewis

She highlighted how 2016 was really the year of people not behaving as expected. When we all started to question the decision making of our fellow man. Not just with Brexit and Trump, but the unpredictability of stories such as Mr Splashy Pants and Boaty McBoatface. And that too much time is spent giving people what you think they want, rather than understanding how they behave.

The average person is exposed to 5,000 marketing messages a day…

I’ve seen this statistic appear a few times in various forms, but this article from SJ Insights feels a little more accurate. It states the 5,000 figure includes ads and brand exposures (every brand name you see when you open your fridge, on peoples shoes etc…) and ads alone are actually more like 362…

Regardless, the sentiment is the same. We’re inundated with marketing messages, and we live in a world with too much choice.

It all boiled down to usefulness. The biggest, most successful brands we know, whether we love them or hate them, aren’t revolutionary, they are just being useful to you.

Social Chain

Steve Bartlett of Social Chain gave some great insight into the world of influence. Having created some of the most successful social media campaigns ever, this guy knows his stuff. He shared some really interesting examples of influence. There can be a tendency from brands to use the most famous person they can find to promote their products, but Steve showed that smaller influencers can pack a punch too. By getting a group of small influencers on side, you’re not only making it cheaper to manage, but you’re getting a much more targeted and focused audience.

Above all Steve focused on authenticity. Audiences want something real, not forced.

understanding audiences


Connor Ward Head of UX&Design at British Gas had much more scientific approach. He talked about the many ways his team use behavioural science approaches, to test their services. One thing I really took away from this talk way that ‘everyone is a researcher’. It really struck with me that in business it’s so important to listen, understand and reflect on the experiences of your colleagues and your clients. That’s the only way you can improve.

It was also fascinating to hear about tools such as the Moodies app which can listen to a voice and analyse the emotion. Wouldn’t it be interesting to know how people are really feeling when they talk to you?!

understanding audiences


Gion-Men Kruegel, Group Creative Director at Head was another outstanding speaker. You’ll be hard pushed to find someone with more passion for their craft!

Again the real focus was on influence, and why it works. He talked about people wanting to be part of a tribe. It completely makes sense when you’re talking about brands and even services. You see people enjoying or benefitting from something and you want to be part of it.  Much like Tash’s talk, he talked about the importance of products that help us to be better. Again, it sounds simple, but if you have a product that is going to make someone even better at what they’re already good at, they’re going to want it. It’s important to remember that when you’re thinking about how to market your product.

Like Steve, Gion-Men had some great examples of influence. Particularly the idea of sharing a product with influencers. They sent a new range of skis to some of the biggest names in skiing and just asked them to film their experience. There were no guidelines, no requirements. The results were fascinating, with some filming the whole unpacking of the product and analysing it in great detail, then others showing how great they are in action.

Document. Seed. Influence. This was their order of play.

What can we learn from all this?

There were many other great talks, but from my day enjoying WXG, the key take aways for me are;

Be useful

Be authentic



Follow them on twitter and keep an eye out for details of their next event, I’d highly recommend a visit!

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