Listen to Win

Use Customer Insights and Your Company’s Experts to Create Breakthrough Marketing

Your company spokesperson is no longer in the PR department. In fact, 60 percent of millennials would prefer to hear from experts instead of corporate statements.¹ The humanization trend in pet food means nearly every aspect, from ingredient quality to manufacturing standards, is scrutinized against human food production standards. And the largest pet-owner group, millennials, makes pet care decisions very differently than other audience segments. There’s no question your marketing needs to adjust. Companies that create relevant content by using employees as experts create a more loyal customer base. The good news is that your greatest marketing asset, your company’s experts, are already on board!

But how will your company experts know what to say? Listening for topics that are important to your customers and shaping a story using your company’s expertise is the key to differentiating your business. At the 2017 Pet Food Forum, Woodruff’s Insights and Content team leaders, Scott Kington and Andrew Grinch, presented “Listen to Win! Use Customer Insights and Your Company’s Experts to Create Breakthrough Marketing.”

Sounds hard? Not really. Read on for how you can do this too. Woodruff shared an easy-to-follow process on how to uncover valuable customer data, use that data to identify customer insights, then leverage experts within your own company to apply those insights to your marketing efforts. Attendees got access to downloadable tools they could use to get started on their own breakthrough marketing.

In this article, we share the framework of our process from that presentation in four steps, as well as access to our downoadable tools. We see this as a playbook to breakthrough marketing that does not call for an increase in your marketing budget and uses resources that you already have.

Step 1: Find the Information

Our Five Places to Look for Information bullseye is an easy reference tool for identifying key places to look for information about what your customers are saying about your brand or industry.



Start looking internally, with your people. Your employees, sales force and product specialists speak to your customers every day and have the inside scoop on what they are saying.

Another internal source, your communication channels such as social media, your website and customer service channels are essentially the “front lawn” of your brand and can offer a wealth of information about your customers’ needs and opinions.

Moving to external sources, social chatter is a valuable source for learning about what your customers – and potential customers – are saying about your industry and brand. Broadcast-style social chatter is statement-based social media where people are simply broadcasting their thoughts and opinions. Community-style social chatter, where people are discussing topics and interacting as a community, can give you firsthand knowledge of key trends.

Another external source we recommend reviewing is market research. Whether it’s secondary or primary research, something you’ve been sitting on for a few years or research you just conducted to learn more about a specific audience or topic, market research is another way to illuminate issues or trends.

Step 2: Sort It Out

After you have gathered data from internal and external sources, you may find yourself with a mess of disjointed information. A lot of people think this data is the same thing as an insight. But data is just information. An insight is a unique conclusion that includes context extracted from data.

Sifting through a lot of data to identify a true insight seems like a daunting process, but using the Five Places to Look for Information bullseye, combined with our Info to Insight filter, will help you organize and prioritize what you’ve found to get you from information to insight.

At Woodruff, we believe that an insight is a newly discovered truth about your target market that inspires opportunities to set your business apart.

There are multiple factors to consider when looking at information and determining if there is an actionable insight that can help set your business apart. Our filter applies the context of source (who is saying it), themes (what are the categories), frequency (from occasionally to often), sentiment (positive, neutral and negative), relevance (how you can make the topic applicable to your business) and differentiation (it sets your business apart) to determine if you have an actionable insight on your hands.

Step 3: Match Insights & Experts

After identifying an insight that inspires an opportunity to set your business apart, it’s time to match those insights with your internal company experts. Identify who is knowledgeable about the topic and get those experts talking.

The best experts will be passionate, knowledgeable and able to break complex concepts into understandable explanations. Remember not to force your experts to be expert marketers as well; keeping them in their comfort zones is important. If someone is great at speaking directly to people, put them in face-to-face settings with customers. If writing is your expert’s strength, leverage their expertise through blogs or white papers. Experts telling relevant and unique stories can be the solutions your customers are looking for.

Step 4: Create Breakthrough Marketing

One definition of “breakthrough” is an act or instance of removing or surpassing an obstruction or restriction; the overcoming of a stalemate. This means you must stop doing what you always done in order to break through. At Woodruff, we believe breakthrough marketing is built on an insight, delivers your unique perspective, addresses an audience need and sets your business apart.

Now that you’ve uncovered your insight, matched it with an internal expert and determined your strategy, it’s time to deploy your breakthrough marketing!

Companies that create relevant content using employees as experts will create a loyal customer base. With increasingly complicated trends in the pet care category, your marketing needs to adjust to be relevant. Using the four steps above, and partnering with Woodruff to help find your customer’s needs, prioritize insights into your unique story and identify your company expert to tell that story to help you achieve your business goals.


¹Bank of America market research, John Von Brachel, senior vice president, Bank of America.