Sarah Levinger: How to excel with creative marketing in 2024

Sarah Levinger - How to excel with creative marketing in 2024

How the evolving consumer behaviour is shaping marketing strategies in 2024

In today’s fast-paced marketing landscape, connecting brands with consumers requires a blend of innovation and emotional intelligence. 

Recently, Sarah Levinger, a seasoned creative strategist, has shared her insights at the Two Ecomm Experts Podcast (a podcast hosted by the founder of Markademics, Viktor Stoilov, you can check the episode here). 

Sarah Levinger has spent the last 10 years studying why people buy and has applied what she’s learned to help brands like True Classic, HexClad, Obvi, and Original Grain cut costs, boost sales, and captivate the masses using psychology.

She has mastered creative marketing by understanding the evolving dynamics of consumer behaviour. 

How is the consumer’s behaviour changing? Can we understand consumer behaviour better, if we dive deeper into the reviews that people leave? What is the 2024 guide for viral videos and the role of a creative strategist?


A shift in consumer behaviour

The landscape of creative marketing is changing rapidly and many brands are struggling to keep up. Sarah says that a few years ago, brands saw great success by jumping on the user-generated content (UGC) and video marketing wave. 

These videos were highly sales-focused and had a direct response approach, leading to impressive results. During this time, there was a significant demand for creative strategists who could blend metrics with creative content effectively.

However, this initial surge of innovation has faded. The creative strategies that worked well a few years ago are no longer delivering the same results. The industry is experiencing a turn down in innovation and brands are feeling the pain of outdated methods that no longer resonate with their audiences.


Why are things not working and how can we change that?

Currently, innovation in creative marketing is lacking. Most of the new ideas come from marketers in the direct-to-consumer (DTC) sector. Even major brands like Pepsi and Coca-Cola tend to follow what the DTC industry does, rather than leading with their own innovations.

One of the main reasons nothing is working is because we keep using the same concepts repeatedly. Brands often repackage old ideas instead of coming up with new ones. This lack of creativity is why many marketing strategies are failing.

To change this, we need people whose only job is to innovate. Some brands are excellent at testing, experimenting, injecting emotion into their content and understanding storytelling. However, these brands are rare. They tend to be larger companies that can afford to employ enough people to focus solely on creativity.

Smaller or scaling brands face a tougher challenge. They need to innovate while also managing day-to-day operations and trying to grow. This makes it difficult for them to dedicate resources to creative innovation.


What do consumers actually want and how to capture their attention

Understand what consumers want and expect in order to gain their trust. Brands must go beyond generic messages like “five reasons why you should buy this product.” Instead, they need to deeply understand their audience’s needs and emotions.

As a consultant, Sarah’s job is to stay updated on what society is doing and how consumers are feeling. This involves tracking trends and behaviour to provide brands with insights into the psychological landscape of their target audience. 

Consumer behaviour is closely tied to emotion. Sarah says that for older consumers, such as “Baby Boomers”, political and economic unrest significantly impacts their purchasing decisions. They are more connected to the broader economic landscape than younger generations, and this connection influences how they shop and what products they buy.

To capture the attention of consumers, brands must address their emotional needs and concerns. This involves understanding how current events and societal changes affect their feelings and decisions. By connecting with consumers on an emotional level, brands can build trust and loyalty.


How to use reviews to understand consumer behaviour

When starting with a new client, the first step is to understand the core of the brand. In the past, Sarah’s role was focused on helping brands with acquisition by diagnosing why their ads weren’t working. 

Over time, she noticed a common issue across various brands: they didn’t truly understand why people purchased their products. Now, her approach involves helping brands create a psychological position in the market.

To help brands, she began by researching how customers review the products and the brand itself. This involves extensive research across different platforms, validating the language customers use in reviews with the language they use elsewhere, such as on Reddit. 

Reddit is an excellent source for understanding human behaviour and community-based language, as the way people express themselves can reveal much about their feelings and experiences.

For example, she worked with a brand that had no reviews because it was new. In this case, she turned to Reddit to gather insights. By typing in the product name, she could read numerous posts and comments. 

These words provide a sense of how people feel about the product, which is then used to inform acquisition strategies.

The process of using reviews involves copying and pasting relevant Reddit threads or long-form comments into an Excel spreadsheet. Short comments like “I love this product” are not useful. 

Instead, Sarah focuses on longer stories that provide more context. This same approach applies to reviews if they are available.

Once the data is collected, it is categorised into different emotions. This helps the brand understand the core emotional reasons why people buy their products. 


2024 guide for viral videos

Many people think virality simply means getting a lot of views. While high view counts are often associated with viral content, true virality is about more than just numbers. It’s about engagement and impact. When aiming for virality, the first question to ask is: What are we trying to achieve with this viral content?

If views are your goal, optimising for virality makes sense. However, most brands are looking for more than just views – they want sales. 

Virality in organic content can often happen with a single piece of content that resonates with the audience. In contrast, achieving virality through paid content usually requires a much larger amount of content. Brands need to understand the purpose of their viral content and what they are optimising for to achieve success.

When creating content, especially for brands with products that are considered less emotional, it’s important to find a way to connect with the audience. 

Emotional connection is still possible and necessary, even for these products. An effective strategy is to attach your product to a relatable personality. People are more likely to buy from someone they connect with and trust. 


The Role of a Creative Strategist

A creative strategist’s role has evolved over time. Originally, they were tasked with generating ad ideas to boost metrics for ad accounts. 

Today, a creative strategist needs to manage the overall brand personality across all platforms, from email and landing pages to paid acquisition and retention. They put the core message of the brand into every piece of content.

A good creative strategist needs to be:

  • Curious: They should constantly ask why things are happening and explore the reasons behind consumer behaviour
  • Performance-Oriented: They have to understand media buying and the meaning of metrics
  • Content-focused: They need to understand how to create content that grabs attention, using systems and frameworks


In 2024, the key to creative marketing lies in understanding consumer behaviour. Sarah Levinger’s insights emphasise the importance of emotional intelligence, innovative thinking and the strategic use of data, particularly from consumer reviews. 

As brands navigate this dynamic landscape, they must prioritise authentic connections with their audience. 

The shift away from traditional methods towards more nuanced and emotionally driven strategies is essential. 

Brands that thrive will be those that can continuously innovate, put creativity into their operations and stay attuned to the ever-changing psychological landscape of their consumers. 

Sarah Levinger’s approach serves as a guide for brands aiming to revitalise their marketing strategies. As we move further into 2024, embracing these principles will be crucial for any brand looking to excel in creative marketing.

If you want to hear more of this story and many others that give practical advices to implement in your business, check the “Two Еcomm Еxperts” podcast on YouTube, Spotify or Apple Podcast.

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