How to use technology to understand and communicate with consumers

Michael Brunner, Chairman and CEO, M.J. Brunner Inc.

Technology is a term often associated with advancement. In the realm of customer service, it has cultivated an expectation of increasingly innovative and customized service.

Michael Brunner, however, says that the opposite holds true for many companies.

“You’ve got this expanding gap there that the more technology advances, the greater the disappointment there is with the consumer as to what their expectation is and what they receive as it relates to their own experiences,” says Brunner, CEO and chairman of M.J. Brunner Inc. based in Pittsburgh.

As a full-service advertising agency, understanding customer wants and needs is paramount to creating and delivering effective campaigns for M.J. Brunner’s clients.

“The more we know about the mindset of the consumer — the way they think, the way they deal with technology, they way they use technology, the way they put technology into their purchasing patterns today — the more valuable we become to our clients,” Brunner says.

The 200-plus-employee agency uses a number of techniques to evaluate its clients’ customers, including shopper marketing to define consumer behaviors. Once a campaign has been created, the company implements a measurement analytics tool called Cricket to then review campaign metrics in real time to make decisions and changes based on ROI.

“We’re hired by our clients because they expect us to get results for them,” Brunner says.

“If we were to deliver that I think that’s all fine and good, but I don’t think that’s enough. I would define that as creating work or developing a campaign or a program that absolutely catapults a client to the top of their category — one that achieves dramatic results, one that fires up or rallies the organization, one that is built around a big or a game-changing business idea.”

One tool the company uses to think up big ideas is BHiveLab, an incubator focused on creating new ways to engage people on the go. By connecting to consumers through mobile devices and other emerging technologies, M.J. Brunner’s campaigns can influence consumer decision making during the actual shopping process in store.

“Almost every percent of purchase decisions are made in store. So that walk down aisle seven making a decision as you’re looking at cereals is not necessarily something that’s already decided before you get there.”

“We are able to connect the technology and the marketing and reach the consumer, give them a reason to purchase our client’s product rather than the competitor’s product.”

Brunner also uses technology to track and respond to consumer feedback through social media outlets.

“That negative experience that a customer felt or experienced today can be delivered to thousands of people (using social media) and creates an entire swell, if you will, of ill will or bad feeling or creates a bandwagon, which allows others to jump on and say the same thing,” Brunner says.

Responding to negative feedback quickly can prevent its rapid spread. Conversely, responding quickly to positive feedback can promote rapid spread.

“Perhaps you could use that as a platform and build a program or a campaign off that,” Brunner says. “It maybe becomes a starting point for future communications.”

HOW TO REACH: M.J. Brunner Inc., (412) 995-9500 or