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Wired for connection: Three strategies to connect with time-crunched consumers

Wired for connection: Three strategies to connect with time-crunched consumers

By Allyssa Kennedy
Account Director

In 1968, the average length of a political sound bite was 43 seconds. 

43 seconds! 

Here are all the things that a modern consumer today would be doing in those same 43 seconds:

  • Venmo their friend for coffee from this morning.
  • Group text their family about plans this weekend.
  • Check their Instagram notifications.
  • Ask Alexa to order more paper towels from Amazon. Same-day delivery, of course.

To match the speed of modern consumers — and their divided attention — it’s not surprising that today’s political soundbite is only 8 seconds. 

Modern brands have more ways of reaching their audiences than ever before, and yet, connecting with consumers has never been more difficult. It takes more than an interesting photo to stop the social media scroll, more than a 20% off coupon to win a sale, and definitely more than a carefully crafted media statement to regain trust in a crisis.

If you want to connect with the ever-accelerating modern consumer, truly connect, there are three things a modern brand must do. 

1. Be the brand that helps consumers tell their story, not the other way around. 

In 1936, Dale Carnegie released his book How to Win Friends and Influence People. One of the most timeless principles he wrote was the idea of how “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” 

The same is true for relationships between consumers and brands. Time-crunched modern consumers are wired for connection, but they don’t want to connect to a brand. They will, however, connect and share an idea that moves them, inspires them and most importantly, helps them tell their own story.  

2. Harness the power of your biggest fans.

According to the Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Report, 92% of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.

Who are those people who would go out of their way to recommend your brand to their network? We call this group True Believers—consumers and employees alike who know, participate with and share your brand more than anyone else. Super-advocates, they are also a critical group of influencers for brands.

To harness the power of this group, a modern brand must provide their true believers with a script. This can be in the form of content, proof, rituals and treasures that brands give to true believers to share with — and influence their own networks. 

True believers also can play a critical role in a time of crisis. 

Consider IHOP. In 2019, the iconic breakfast brand received unexpected public criticism for its 2019 brand campaigns that stated it was changing what the “P” in its name meant. In response, it rallied its biggest fans and True Believers by launching a “Pancakewear” online shop for fans to show and share their love. 

3. Put more value on earned media. 

Speaking of crisis, modern brands must not ignore the power of traditional media, which can be a valuable asset during those times and a continued way to reach and build trust with consumers during economic uncertainty or recessions.

Traditional media outlets today are working harder than ever to earn trust and provide impactful stories for their audience, yet it has become an undervalued medium for many brands. And despite recent years of “fake news,” trust in traditional media may be rebounding. 

In Cision’s 2019 State of the Media study, the number of journalists who believe that the public is losing trust in the media has steadily declined since 2017. The study also found ensuring accuracy is the most important factor for most news organizations — their businesses are built on trust among consumers. Furthermore, like brands, journalists today are using analytics to better understand their audiences to create more impactful, engaging stories.

As trust among media rises, and their stories become more relevant to readers, brands who know how to tap into this channel will, too, benefit.

Keeping up with modern consumers doesn’t mean you must learn how to run at lightspeed to stay ahead of culture. Simply prioritizing the needs of consumers over your own will help your brand capture the attention and build a connection that lasts.


Want to learn more about building a whole brand that truly connects with consumers? We just so happen to have a new book on that topic—Scratch: How to build a potent modern brand from the inside out. Part workbook, part prediction for the future, Scratch is a how-to guide for brands ready to rethink what’s possible. And, it’s the Barkley way.

Barkley US

Mar 13, 2020

filed under:
Media, Restaurant, Scratch


Consumer Products, COVID-19, Education, Finance, Healthcare, Media, Millennial, More, Purpose, Restaurant, Retail, Scratch, Sustainability, The Useful Brand, Travel
COVID-19, Media, The Useful Brand
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