Your customers are people – simple but true?

2 Jul

Tim McKane

One of the most difficult things for people in business to do is to put themselves in the mind of their customers. Divorcing yourself from your own products and services and putting yourself in the mind of an existing or potential customer is difficult.

The Amazon mantra is start at the customer and work backwards. It works, and not just for marketing, but for business strategy too.

You are in the agri food sector, and you have a great idea for a new product. A brilliant idea. People will really want frog flavoured ice cream. They like fish food made by Ben and Jerry’s, so frog will be a big seller. Then ou take a leap of faith and your team develop a really exciting taste, the package design is done. The retailers are all for it (stay with me here), it is on the shelf, and it stays there, in the frozen cabinet, £4.99 a litre, then half price, then no price and you are back to the drawing board. What about a new strawberry ripple?

Of course people don’t want frog flavoured ice cream. All their behaviour tells you that. But what’s more than that, if you think about them, you may well find that there is a flavour of ice cream that they are just waiting to try.

Your customers are people. That is such an obvious statement, but one that is sometimes overlooked. They react as people to your products and brand. They are illogical, influenced by huge numbers of interactions from family and friends to advertising and fashion. Why does someone have a favourite colour? What made them follow that team? What do they think they look like in that outfit?

In the 70’s there was a campaign for the Fiat Strada that won lots of advertising awards, Built by Robots. Beautiful film, sold no cars. Why because people did not want to buy a car built by robots, that had not been touched by human hand.

The great thing about digital marketing and the fact that so many people use the internet every day, is that that it produces data. A search for frog flavoured ice cream produces 688,000 results, but thankfully not a product. So that tells us – park that one – lets move on.

Spending time finding out about your customer and what they are interested in is a valuable way to use the tools that we have to produce great digital marketing.  It is why digital marketers are moving up the ladder to seats at board level, because sometimes they know more about what is going on than the others in the business.

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