#BT2019: Creating a Personal Connection to Reach Your Target Market

During the first week of my co-op placement at Oak & Rumble, IABC Waterloo gave me the amazing opportunity to attend their annual Break Through conference. This was such a great opportunity because I intend to pursue a marketing career. My main takeaway from Break Through is: communicators need to focus more on creating a personal connection with their target market.


I first listened to Kendra Ross (my awesome boss) speak about Trends in Video Marketing. Kendra talked about why video is essential for personalized marketing.

As Kendra said, “Think mobile first - we’re on the go, but also in bed”.

Placing marketing videos on mobile devices reaches consumers faster, anywhere. I agree from a teenage consumer standpoint, my peers are always focused on their social media. Subconsciously, we view effective ads integrated into video without even knowing! This happens when watching YouTube, or even scrolling on Instagram and Facebook.

Kendra spoke about how consumers are unlikely to listen to a video - 85% of videos are watched without sound. Captions are necessary to get your spoken message through on mobile platforms. Engaging captions immediately gain and hold the viewer's attention. Many times on the bus I forget my headphones, but still get the information from the captioning.

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Kendra discussed that live video is a great way to build a personal feel. Responsive content and immediate questions allow for customers to get to know your brand. I love to watch the way influencers behave on live videos because it shows their genuine character.

I learned that AI and machine learning can be useful to test how to personalize your video marketing. Feedback from different software can detect emotions, moderate content, and automate video ad buys. New tech allows for communicators to adapt to consumer reactions. After the presentation, I even tried out the emotion detection app Affectiva with my bosses. It was a cool opportunity to see how accurate it can detect emotions. (And I’m 100% joy!)


Next, I listened to Sylvia Link’s talk on How To Get Away With Measurement Without Really Trying. Sylvia talked about great ways to conduct research and how to use it.

Data collected in surveys should direct to specific target groups, so you get meaningful, relevant information about the people you care about.  

And, you build trust when you put people in comfortable situations. For example, if you have a group of people who speak German, put them in a focus group with a moderator who speaks their language. (Trust=honesty!)

Gaining research in a personal manner is very effective. Intercept surveys (interrupting an action to get immediate feedback) are a great way to see the reactions in real time. From my experience, intercept surveys in the mall are very engaging. I recognize that the company values my opinion and wants to do their best for me as a customer.

There are many ways that research helps companies focus on their target market’s wants and needs. Companies should discuss the information they’ve uncovered and take action. I love to see adjustments brands make from customer feedback.

I learned that information is great to share with others via blogs and social media, like #fastfactfriday. Now, I am not going to be scared of research - it’s a great tool.


To finish the event, Alan Quarry gave the closing keynote At The End of the Day… It’s All About People, Not Technology. Alan summarized the day by giving an engaging talk on the importance of focusing on people rather than getting weighed down by technology.

“Technology is a beast.” But it will never be able to do what we as communicators can: build strong, personal relationships with other humans. The options are to let the beast eat you, or ride with the beast to success.

Some marketers see technology as a threat. But at the end of the day, it’s not about the algorithms, or the software. It’s about the connections we’re building. It’s about the people. Alan taught me that tech ≠ communication.

By: Devan Ryan

Kaitlyn Holbein