I’m sure, if given the chance, marketers would jump at the opportunity to implant an idea into people’s subconscious, just as in the movie Inception. I believe they kind of already are. Nowadays neuroscience is providing insights into how to connect with an audience on a deeper level than ever before, the type of connection that breeds utmost loyalty, evangelism.
When what a brand chooses to stand for, its peculiar worldview, connects with an audience that already shares the same beliefs, bringing about the change you seek to make, becomes so much easier. The audience members attach the stories they are already telling themselves to your brand story, if you earn their attention and trust.
This is why understanding not just demographics but psychographics is so important. You need to apply empathy and imagine who the people are you created the brand for. What are their desires and their needs? How do you introduce your brand to them and what does it do for them? How does it help them on their journey, not just your own?
The strongest memories are the ones where we’ve felt a strong emotion. Throughout the years we accumulate an archive of memories we hold on to. Here’s a video with a nice emotional story arch. This one touches me.
Empathy is hard. It’s hard to imagine being someone else, e.g. doing the job of a surgeon where life or death situations arise, literally. I wonder how it’s like to extend someone’s life while not being able to do so for another.
How does one make sense of it? I imagine there exists the extreme of becoming arrogant, thinking of yourself like a God whose might rises above the power of common mortal beings. And then I imagine another extreme, the one of reaching deep wisdom and connection with all other sentient beings, an insight about gratitude and the vast space of knowledge that is still to be explored.
Earlier today I’ve rewatched the movie The Imitation Game (2014), which is a historical drama directed by Morten Tyldum and written by Graham Moore. His writing is based on the biography Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges. Benedict Cumberbatch is playing the lead role.
The movie tells the tale of Alan, a genius mathematician, who is recruited to work on a very challenging puzzle, to break the code of Enigma, a machine the Nazis use to send encrypted messages. I don’t want to go into details, for if you have not watched the movie yet, it would almost certainly ruin your experience.
One of the elements of the movie that intrigues me is how it represents the worldview of Britain during that time, what some might call societal consciousness, the norms and beliefs of the British society during the 2nd World War.
I wonder how norms in regards to what is acceptable behavior and what is not, even by law, evolve. How do they actually change and who are the people who make it happen? What exactly determines how fast norms change? How does culture change and how does it manifest?
Years ago I had a conversation with an entrepreneur who managed a product design and product development studio. After I asked her how business was she started to complain how her customers didn’t understand product design, that are not clear about its value and on and on. It seemed to me that she was directing her marketing efforts towards people who didn’t believe what she believed. In her case it meant she first needed to sell the idea that design mattered to her prospect, before she could actually hope to make a sale.
I wonder what she’d achieve if she had focused her efforts more towards the kind of people who already understand the value of product design. I wonder what might have happened if she made correct assumptions about her customers and provided them with a brand story that satisfied a true need or desire. The sales cycle would be so much shorter and she’d have much more fun working with these kind of customers.
If I had to name one aspect that impacts marketing success the most, I’d choose empathy.
You’ll never be able to be in your audience’s shoes, feel exactly what they feel, think exactly what they think, mimic exactly their worldview. But you can use your imagination to fill the gap, in order to create the kind of marketing that will serve your audience.
A good exercise is to imagine imaging why people who do not buy from you choose to do so and why for them this might be the right choice. It’s easy to say “they just don’t get it”, much harder to empathise with the reasons for their choices.
Today I’ve reflected upon what is important, as an Account or Sales Manager, for helping premium drinks clients that are sourcing branded merchandise.
Here are 3 things that have proven valuable to me:
1. Understanding value It’s important to understand the broader market your customer is part of and how they ideally want the product they are sourcing to tie into their marketing strategy, along with all the other tactics they are applying. Unless you are in a commodity type of market, which is something only few people would want to be part of, what is the value your product adds when it comes to your client achieving their goals? What’s your value proposition that makes your product appealing to your customer?
2. Communicating value Being transparent and clear about what your product solution and accompanying services, e.g. graphics design, entails. What are its limitations, what its strength? How do you communicate this?
3. Building value Even when you are in a B2B type of setting, it’s always humans that are buying from humans. Sure, the psychology between a B2B and a B2C purchase is different, but it always comes down to human interaction. Beyond your product and services, you can build value by developing quality relationships with your customers. This means showing up not only when you believe they are ready to buy but on a more regular basis. It’s always a chance for both giving valuable input and learning from your client’s input. Beyond this just being friendly and truly wanting to help, which manifests by going beyond the mere minimum that is expected, go a long way.
When thinking about marketing it’s easy to skip steps by immediately focusing on sales. It’s important to avoid loosing sight of certain fundamental elements of marketing.
No. 1 What’s the impact you want to have, the type of change you are seeking to make? This is your WHY.
No. 2 WHO is your audience? Notice that audience is much broader than customers. A lot of people will be part of your audience but not be customers, at least not as fast as you might like them to be.
No. 3 What’s it for? WHAT is your brand promise?
Marketing always has to do with telling a story. Based on how good of a match you have, between the worldview of your audience, the type of stories they keep telling themselves over and over again, about themselves and the world around them, and the elements of your brand story, that’s what will ultimately help you move forward.
If you show up in a thoughtful and consistent way that helps your audience with what they care about, you have a chance, the chance to earn both attention and trust, currencies that are immensely valuable in today’s world of constant distractions.