Forget soggy bottoms, here’s why you should focus on your soggy middle: 5 tips to move customers from ‘like’ to ‘love’

As The Great British Bake Off gathers momentum and “soggy bottoms” re-enter public consciousness, this is a plea for marketers everywhere to contemplate their own “soggy middles” and how this most pernicious of non-pastry-related phenomena can be addressed.

What is the “soggy middle” of marketing?

So what is a “soggy middle” I hear you all cry.  It is a term I heard many moons ago and one that resonates with brands, big and small, B2B and consumer. Anyone who considers themselves “quite satisfied”, rather than “very satisfied” and singing the praises of your brand, or who sits squarely on the fence on any brand issue counts as soggy middle.

If you speak Net Promoter Score, the soggy middle can refer to those who are neither promoters nor detractors, but instead take a passive stance. Soggy middles exist in pretty much any research you care to undertake, whether you’re looking at employee satisfaction and faced with a bunch of people who on the face of it are “quite satisfied”, but couldn’t be described as fully-committed advocates and can relatively easily be tempted away by competitive job offers.

Political polls, under the spotlight since the General Election, and their “undecided” masses are another demonstration of the soggy middle at work, and the importance of shifting attitudes from apathy and disinterest to active engagement.

In times of unprecedented consumer choice and increasingly fickle followers, understanding what drives brand attachment and steering our business models and marketing communications definitively towards a more emotional, and sticky, relationship is a no brainer.

Customer insight provides the compass for brands looking to challenge the status quo of the soggy middle and move customers from a position of “like” to “love”, from satisfaction to delight.

Here are five tips for marketers looking to shift that soggy middle:

1. Define what soggy middle means to you as a brand

Is this just people who are neither satisfied nor dissatisfied or do you see the “quite satisfied” group as a collective you’d like to challenge and mobilise in a positive direction

2. Understand who the soggy middle is

What are the common characteristics of this group, in terms of demographics, attitudes and purchase behaviour?  The soggy middle, however you choose to define it, is often a very large group.  Being able to, at least figuratively, get your arms around it, is a good starting point

3. Get a handle on what actually drives satisfaction

Through key driver analysis, you can identify the top three (or five) things you need to focus on to a) increase satisfaction and b) decrease dissatisfaction (not always the same thing!).  Knowing where to focus resource and energy can make all the difference. In content marketing, being too generic is a habit serves to perpetuate a soggy middle.

4. Get to the heart of the problem through root cause analysis

Qualitative research techniques and tools can help unearth customer issues, and highlight what specifically needs to happen to move people up the satisfaction scale

5. Use these insights to inform expectations.

Set crisp and clear KPIs that drive excellence rather than foster mediocrity and track performance against these.

While it’s tempting to end this blog post with any number of baking or pastry analogies, better I think to leave you to contemplate where soggy middles exist for your brand and to consider the impact of these on your business.

Your detractors are usually loud and will go elsewhere anyway – your soggy middles are quieter, bigger in numbers and present a more insidious threat to your brand image and profit margins. Insight can shine a light on what is and isn’t working, move customers from like to love and help shift that soggy middle.

Via @suzytimms

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