See, Think, Do & Care — A Content Focused Business Framework

Allan Baptista
13 min readMar 5, 2020
See, Think, Do and Care

Yet Another Lame Business Framework?

Usually, any business framework is better than no framework, so if this is your current state of affairs testing out any business framework is likely to provide you with some positive outcomes.

Frameworks are good because they give you a structure to solve a common problem (or set of problems) but are abstract enough to force you to think about what’s the best way to solve them in your context, with all your constraints and peculiarities.

A framework teaches you how to fish instead of giving you a basket full of tuna.

Lots of smart people are solving difficult problems every day and some of those smart people notices that their problems are likely to occur again either to them or to someone else, so they abstract the solution and all its parts into a framework. This is good because reinventing the wheel is usually a waste of resources. Consequently, thanks to those smart people there is a framework for almost every recurring problem that exists. Thank you, smart people!

The downside of having all these frameworks being born every day is that we’re left with too many frameworks to choose. What’s the best one to help you with your specific issues? That’s when we find ourselves afflicted by the paradox of choice.

In the world of marketing and advertising one of the most popular — and the oldest — framework is known by its acronym AIDA which stands for Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action. It tries to model the consumer’s states during his journey into making a purchase and proposes that advertising messages needs to have specific traits in order to influence (or nudge) the consumer from Awareness into Action.

AIDA has evolved to catch up with the ever continual birth of new media and communication platforms and by evolved I mean it has given rise to several other extensions and variants. Although it has tried to keep up with the ever-changing marketing and advertising landscape, I fear it doesn’t have what it takes to be the best model to describe the process of commercial decision-making of the modern consumer.

To make my point stronger here are some of AIDA’s most annoying deficiencies:

  • It does not account for post-purchase effects (satisfaction, consumption, referral, organic reviews, etc)
  • It relies on a linear, hierarchical structure that has been empirically found to be a poor predictor of actual consumer behavior (research suggests that consumers actually experiences some of these states in parallel, instead of serially)
  • Does not capture the amazing possibility of forming and nurturing relationships with customers at scale (mobile and social platforms)
  • Hard to solve for multiple outcomes (micro-conversions anyone?)
  • Disguises itself as customer-centric but I humbly believe it’s actually condescending to consumers and usually serves the company’s own self interests
  • Can easily result in irrational and narrow-view measurement strategies

Thus, I believe AIDA — and all of its offspring frameworks for that matter — may not be the right business framework to help you solve your plethora of complex digital marketing problems.

So then, what’s the right framework to help you with that?

I don’t know. There’s not one right tool for the job, but almost 7 years ago Google’s Avinash Kaushik — the author of the incredibly useful Web Analytics 2.0 book — proposed a new way to simplify the overwhelmingly complex problems that poses in front of your digital marketing efforts every day. The ideas proposed by Avinash did not only resonate with my present frustrations but I deeply believe it has the most accurate representation of the current digital marketing ecosystem and consumers behavioral patterns. Don’t believe me? Let me try to convince you.

The See — Do — Think — Care Framework

It is a simple 4-step framework that has 3 clear objectives:

  • To put customers and their needs/wants first
  • To better evaluate marketing tactics
  • To look at the right metrics (outcomes)

And the foundational elements of the framework are the consideration stages and its respective audiences.

STDC framework’s consideration stages and their target audiences
STDC framework’s consideration stages and their target audiences

Each audience represents a subset of the last one but that doesn’t mean you should communicate with the *Do* stage’s audience with the same kind of communication that you would use with Think and *See* stage’s audiences. Audiences are exclusionary, meaning when consumers reach the *Do* stage you mostly communicate with them with *Do* stage’s content. Although as you should empower consumers to go from an early stage to a later stage you could occasionally impact audiences of a given stage with content from its subset stage (e.g. impact Think stage’s audience with *Do* stage communication).

Too confusing? Let’s dive into all these concepts individually so it will get clearer.

Nudging vs Empowering

Nudging is a behavioral economics technique first coined in the book Nudge, by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, which can be described as deliberately manipulating how choices are presented to consumers in a way to influence their behaviors, mainly into making purchases.

Empowering is an umbrella term frequently used in motivational psychology that describes a better way to motivate consumers by helping them to acquire willpower and knowledge, so they can make the best choices on their own, by their standards.

Empowering can and should use nudges, but only to help consumers reach their goals faster and better.

The See Stage

The see consideration stage represents the state when consumers might use your product or service, but they either don’t know it exists yet or they don’t know you exist yet. In other words they have no intention of buying it — they have no commercial intent.

The *See* stage targets the largest addressable qualified audience (LAQA) which is not the same as everyone, it actually is very exclusionary so it only encompasses everyone that could use your product some day.

To give you an example let’s imagine that you have a man’s shoe store. Then what’s your largest addressable qualified audience? That’s right, all men that have feet! You could also include their spouses, friends, parents or any loved one if your product is “giftable”.

The Think Stage

The Think* consideration stage describes the state when consumers might use your product or service, know it exists — might even know that you exist — have an interest in buying the product/service you provide but not right now — they have some commercial intent.

The *Think* stage targets the largest addressable audience that has got weak commercial intent.

To illustrate, let’s continue using the men’s shoe store example: How can we represent our Think audience? It probably should be all men that have feet and thinks they need a new pair of shoes.

The Do Stage

The *Do* consideration stage depicts the state where consumers not only might use your product or service but actually wants to do it right now! That does not mean that they want to buy it from you exactly — if you’re not the only one providing it, which almost always the case — but still they have lots of commercial intent.

Meaning that *Do* stage targets the largest addressable audience that has got strong commercial intent.

So going back to our shoe store example, building upon the last audience we should arrive ate the following audience description: all men that have feet, thinks they need a new pair of shoes and are looking to buy one right now.

The Care Stage

The *Care* consideration stage is the easiest to draw an objective line on the sand as it represents the state where consumers — now, your customers — has used your product or service twice or more and (hopefully) still plans to use it again at some point in the future.

To condense it in a sentence the *Care* stage targets your customers that has had at least two commercial transactions with your business.

They are all people that has bought our imaginary men’s shoes twice or more.

Because people can regret things (and they often do), we should only regard it as a successful customer-business relationship when people have used our product or service once and then are willing to come back to use it again which does not only means that they’ve liked it but also that they’ve liked it better than all the other choices available and that’s why we should love them.

Unpredictable Stage Changes

People are hard to predict. Moving down through intent stages is definitely not linear nor it is downward-motion only. Think about it — being a consumer as well — can’t you want to buy shoes right now but simultaneously be interested in how the next season’s batch will look like? Can’t you run into financial problems at the late stages of reserving your next vacation trip and having to postpone it? What that means is consumers frequently moves unpredictably down and up intent stages. Not only that, they can be at two different stages at the same time. Even though this sounds obvious, it is what most advertisers overlook in their marketing strategies.

Bringing It All Together

Now that you know all the (awesome) STDC framework’s concepts you must be wondering how does that get applied in your context? Well, let’s try to answer that together.

The main area that gets impacted by the framework is actually your content, not only what it is but also how, and where it is presented to the consumer. Which leads us to some difficult questions:

  • What content best matches each intent stage?
  • What channels best matches each intent stage?
  • Are our channels doing the most for each respective intent stage?
  • How can we empower consumers to move to the next intent stage?
  • What are the KPIs that best measures the success of each stage?

By trying to answer these questions and confronting it to your current marketing strategy you can get really sad with the opportunities you’re missing. Spoiler alert: you’re missing lots of them.

So much wasted potential
So much wasted potential

If you’re unwilling to confront the truth, let me deliver the ugly facts to you: the average conversion rate of e-commerce is about 2%, If we infer that these 2% are all the people at *Do* intent stage — people with strong commercial intent — that means your “BUY NOW, BUY NOW, BUY NOW!!!” ads are actually frustrating up to 98% of your audience. Which is hugely sad because that represents 98% of people that you could’ve started a relationship with by communicating with them with the right tone, by solving the exact problem they’re having at the exact moment they’re having it.

Let me go a little deeper so it hurts a bit more — in the minimal chance I can convince you that what you’re doing is wrong: you’re spending a 100% of your money and other valuable resources on 2% of your addressable qualified audience and that’s a real shame.

The good news is it’s not hard to fix the state you’re in right now, so let me show you the steps towards a better business strategy for your imaginary men’s shoe store:

  1. Figure out what’s the best content for each intent stage
  2. Align all your channels with the content vs intent stage model you’ve come up with (some channels will do more than others in each specific stage and that’s fine)
  3. Plan ways to empower the consumer towards the next intent stage
  4. Elaborate a measurement model that best matches each intent stage and moves you efficiently towards your business goals

By the end of applying the aforementioned steps you’ll have a strong Content-Marketing-Measurement model that will help your business not only survive the frequently changing aspects of the digital world but also help your brand gain a big and steady real estate within the consumers minds.

A practical example

To give you a more objective perspective of how the framework is applied and impacts your marketing strategy lets go through an implementation of it in a hypothetical online travel agency, let’s name it Bruh Travel Services.

Bruh’s Travel Services’ logo — an art piece
Bruh’s Travel Services’ logo — an art piece

Let’s start by structuring the questions we’re trying to answer so we can build our marketing strategy on top of the framework. By the end of this we will have Bruh’s Audience Clusters, Content Strategy, Channels Structure and Measurement model. Maybe a spreadsheet can help us with that:

The STDC Template — it’s just a simple spreadsheet
The STDC Template — it’s just a simple spreadsheet

The first thing we need to do is to figure out what are our audience clusters. Bruh’s — being a travel services company — can possibly reach all people who likes or needs to travel. So let’s start with it and then build upon it:

Bruh Travel Services’ audience clusters
Bruh Travel Services’ audience clusters

Specificity is key here. If we’re too broad it will be hard to figure out the next columns accurately as everything else depends upon the audience’s description. Spend any time you need to get it perfectly right.

Next, we need to do some taxonomy work by gathering all our possible content categories and matching them with the audience cluster that will most likely find it useful. For example, would an ad showing the great price of a beautiful hotel room on the Greek Islands be of interest for you when in fact your next vacation is 9 months away and you’re searching on the web for advanced spreadsheet formulas? Probably not. But an ad about money management and investment options for travel purposes may catch your attention.

By the end of this step we should have something like this:

Bruh’s Travel Services’ content categories
Bruh’s Travel Services’ content categories

There are lots of content categories that can work in your unique context so be creative. Think out of the box. Test things out. Also, keep in mind that you should come up with content that will empower consumers to move down the intent stages as well — which can include content that belongs to the subset stage’s categories.

Next, we will map all Bruh’s marketing channels to match each audience cluster and content category. This is important and may require some experimentation to get it right because the behavior patterns of every industry’s consumers are quite unique. For example, in social media platforms “BUY NOW! PRICE GREAT!” ads usually does not perform well because people in social spaces are looking to be, well, social, and are usually not eager to buy stuff. But if you are selling a service that helps people gain followers you can actually make those exact ads perform amazingly well.

By the end of this exercise we end up with something like this:

Bruh’s Travel Services’ channel placement — very colorful
Bruh’s Travel Services’ channel placement — very colorful

Makes sense? We can write blog post that can connect with all our intent audiences, so SEO fits into every stage. Conversely, videos (owned or paid) are better to promote the brand, help and inspire people, so the channel fits more within *See* and *Think* stages and just a little in *Do* stage. You got the idea.

Now, the last step we have ahead of us is to choose what are the metrics that will show us that we’re going towards our business objectives (or diverging from it), for each specific intent stage. As in the last step, this can require some experimentation to get it right, but a good set of KPIs to start with would be like the following:

Bruh’s Travel Services’ road to success

Beautiful right? No more shutting down video ads because they’re not driving sales. No more judging a fish for its ability to climb a tree.

That’s it! Now we have an awesome content-marketing-measurement model for the awesome Bruh Travel Services company.

We can reach all the consumers that would buy Bruh’s service way more efficiently and accurately.

Bruh can stop wasting money with things that don’t work and funnel it into things that will actually work.

Bruh’s customers will be way happier and feel they are important to Bruh, which in turn, will make them spend way more money with Bruh’s services! Everybody wins.

Conclusion

There are endless ways to solve a problem I think we agreed on that but I humbly think the STDC framework is one of the best (and simplest) tools to solve the “I need to sell my product or service on the internet in a cost-effective way” problem.

By applying the See-Think-Do-Care framework you can gain a better understanding of your audiences, you can have a clear plan of how, what and where to communicate with them and what are the specific metrics that will show you what’s working and what’s not working.

References

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