Written by Liz Sheets, senior consultant, @LizTunheim

Five years ago I was in events and experiential marketing for a large retailer. We were seeking disruptive ideas — ways to disrupt and interrupt consumers’ busy lives to get them to think of our brand and come to our stores.

Flash forward to today: The Council of Public Relation Firms’ Critical Issues Forum on October 23 in New York has a session on this topic titled, “Is Disruption Dead?”

I started thinking over that question, and I think the answer is no. Disruption is not dead at all, but comes in the form of qualified disruption.

Instead of disruptive ideas for the sake of disruption, we are targeting consumers so that we disrupt or get the attention of the right consumers at the right time in the right medium.

Thanks to technology advances (i.e., mobile, social media and smarter data mining) we not only know a lot about consumers but we now also have the ability to segment and reach them like never before.

Here are 3 ways to be disruptive in today’s hyper-connected, always-on marketplace:

1. Organize data and make it accessible

Don’t start your marketing and communications plan with the goal to reach everyone. Instead start by really thinking through who the right consumers are for your product, service or brand.

Next, layer in research. Who are these consumers, what do they do, where are they, and what else are they consumed with? Side note: If you don’t know, we’d love to help you.

Even without access to enterprise data, you can lean on market segmentation data your marketing team has likely developed. With that data, hone in on characteristics about who these customers are.

2. Use data to target the right consumers

Partner with your company’s distribution channel owners to understand how you can target these customers through email, social media and advertising or paid reach (especially on social networks). If you have access to the insights or analytics, start digging into them to determine who is engaging with which channel.

If your company is still using one social channel on each platform for all your consumers, think about whether new, specifically targeted channels would make more sense (i.e., The Huffington Post vs. HuffPost Parents). By making the channel focused on your consumers’ interests, your target audience will be more likely to pay attention to all your content.

To reach new consumers, develop a plan for social advertising, which will allow you to focus your messages to targeted audiences (based on your segmentation).

Remember to always identify incentives and calls to action that will be relevant to this customer. Why should they stop what they are doing and pay attention? Because you are writing content that speaks directly to them.

3.    Capture data from consumers in real-time

When you’ve got the consumer at your event or reading your content, find out more about them. Sign them up for the kind of future communications that they are interested in right now.

Continue to aim to “know” the right consumers so you can continue to reach more of them with your content going forward.

In the meantime, I hope we’ll see you at the Critical Issues Forum in New York. For more information on the Council of Public Relations Firms’ Critical Issues Forum, click here.

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