One of the things I encounter a lot in the world of marketing and advertising is people’s inability to view creative work subjectively. All too often the people whose role it is to evaluate creative work completely forget about the end user, they base their opinion on whether ‘they’ like it or not.
Unless the person deciding whether the piece of marketing collateral hits the spot or not is 100% representative of the target audience then quite frankly, they must get used to putting on the customer’s hat and immersing themselves in their lifestyle. Any personal feelings or tastes have to be cast aside.
Taking the right approach, and that’s to think of yourself as the customer, will be the difference between the campaign succeeding and being an epic failure.
Resonance is key
When we truly think of ourselves as customers, we know with certainty what makes them tick, what keeps them awake at night, what delights them, what makes them loyal, what they want to hear, how they want to be treated, and ultimately what they need to improve their lives.
Only when we do this can we produce creative work that resonates, and content that talks directly to them.
Don’t get complacent
Anyone who works in the marketing industry should remind themselves to step into their customers’ shoes every single day. After a while, dismissing our own personal preferences and priorities should become second nature.
To make sure the decision makers I work with are on the same page as me, I tell the tale of MBNA’s famous slogan, “Think of Yourself as a Customer”. This American bank had this powerful slogan emblazoned in gold above most doorways of its offices.
Before I owned my own design agency, I was a jobbing agency account manager and regularly visited MBNA’s Chester office. Every time I saw this eye-catching message it positively impacted the way I thought about a project and made for a better outcome.
I now put the customer at the heart of everything I produce, and I expect others in the process to do the same. If my concepts are going to be judged on whether it will win awards for something unrelated to the goal, then it’s time for me to grab my coat.
The all-important ‘what’s in it for me?’
I was on the lookout for a new pan set at a recent visit to a Food Show – yes, I know this isn’t very exciting news, but it perfectly demonstrates the importance of thinking like a customer. To set the scene, there were two stalls selling pretty much the same product at around the same price.
The first stand was all very theatrical, and I discovered everything there is to know about the materials used and the credibility of the developers, but I didn’t find out ‘what’s in it for me?’
Over on the other stand, the focus was on the health benefits of using less oil and how easy the pans were to clean thanks to the well-considered coating. This customer benefit-led approach won me over.
You can’t go wrong if you wear your customers’ shoes
The moral of this blog is that no matter the role you have in the marketing process – whether it’s designer, content writer, or reviewer, success lies in telling the customer what they want to hear and demonstrating what’s in it for them. It’s all about the customer, it always will be.
There’s no room for personal judgement or opinions. And not every campaign has to be sexy or packed with drama.
A winning formula is one that whole-heartedly resonates and catches the eye of the intended customer almost immediately. As the old saying goes, “if you want to know a man, walk a mile in his shoes”.
Duncan – February 2023