Finding the haystack that has the needle

Think about the last time you made a major product purchase. For the sake of example, let’s pretend you were on the hunt for a ginormous 60’ HD television to wow your friends during the Super Bowl.

Unless you were the A/V Captain in high school, you probably didn’t start your journey by searching Amazon for “Samsung model UN60JU7100″. Instead, you may have begun with a little Google exploration, searching for “Best HD TV’s” or “Top televisions for sports”. Or perhaps you took to Twitter and asked your trusted network if they could offer recommendations on the topic.

At the end of the day, you probably didn’t know exactly what you were hunting for, or where you would end up. As a savvy digital consumer, you were beginning the research phase and most likely seeking consumer opinions to help inform your purchase decision.

From a brand perspective, most of us have established moderately mature dot com sites supported by organized and aligned owned social channels. In other words, we’re ready to show prospective buyers that we have the best product once they find us. But therein lies the challenge… As a consumer, you’re likely not even on my radar yet.

While SEO and paid media strategies are clearly a critical component, how else can we engage the customer earlier in their journey in the interest of brand discovery?

Understand and embrace consumer expression

I hate to say this, but from a brand perspective, it’s not about you. We get so wound around our product names, our acronyms or the hip new hashtag that we’re convinced is going to go trending on Twitter that we sometimes lose sight of the fact that consumers are having their own conversations. They’re trying to solve a problem. They’re not thinking about you, and they’re probably not speaking in your language (yet).

As you think about your own discovery strategy, be sure to put energy into understanding how consumers might be expressing the needs that your product or service solves. Doing so can help avoid potential language barriers and bolster your chances of showing up far earlier in the discussion than you may be today.

Be present in relevant conversations – Add value!

Another often overlooked tactic is to look for the places where these conversations are taking place. Specifically, what are the online destinations where people are talking about electronics, sharing their opinions and ultimately informing a purchase decision? Oftentimes these are overlooked destinations but arguably one of the most important from a discovery point of view.

While it takes a solid social listening foundation and strong engagement chops, get out there and join the conversation. Bring your best subject matter expert(s) and let them engage in the discussion.

While this can be a very powerful tactic to help drive brand discovery and generate sales – there are a couple of things to watch out for:

First, be transparent. Never ever misrepresent who you are. It’s not only bad form, but it’s also illegal.

Second, add value. Do not try to sell. It’s OK to share why you believe your product is best, but leading with a hard sell or dissing the competition is a sure fire way to create the exact opposite effect you’re going for.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to provide calls to action. Link back to product demos, white papers, etc. It’s OK to bring your perspective to the table, but be sure to balance that fine line between contributing to the discussion versus a in your face marketing.

Consider ad strategies beyond the usual suspects

You most likely have a paid media strategy and may be on the top review sites for your product. But how about some of the lesser known spots that we just discovered through listening? Often times high value channels get overlooked in favor of the more popular entities. You might be surprised how far a precious media dollar can go in lesser-known site that yields tons of brand value.

At end of day, it’s all about intimately understanding your audience, how they express their needs and where they’re doing so. Once you develop a clear grasp of these elements, you can likely engage them far earlier in the customer journey than you’re doing today.