We are all consumers, so why do we find it so easy to forget what ticks us off as consumers when we design our marketing? Here is some straightforward advice.
Given the choice between developing a marketing idea that dazzles fellow marketers but falls flat with customers, or cultivating a no-frills idea that works because it gives customers exactly what they want/need even though it isn’t flashy, which option do you lean toward? Many marketers, if they’re being honest, will choose the first option, whether it’s because they think it will impress their peers, advance their career, establish their position as an influencer, or for one of many other reasons.
Building your personal brand is a natural, worthy goal for any professional, but not when it comes at the expense of the larger brand that you represent. Too often I see marketers who, regardless of intent, view the world only from the perspective of marketing. They may talk about putting the customer first, but actions say otherwise.
Why Some Marketers Struggle to See the Customer’s Perspective
There are many reasons that marketers overcomplicate their conception of what customers want. Maybe they got into marketing because it stokes their creativity, and they want to demonstrate that creativity to the world. A perfectly reasonable goal in many cases, but not when flexing those creative muscles leads to a lesser experience for the brand’s customers.
Often, it’s a case of putting the marketer’s own desires ahead of the team and the brand that they represent. They want their hard work to be recognized, they’re angling for a spot on the speaker circuit, or they simply focus on self at the expense of the big picture. Regardless of the reason, it leads to marketing that’s bad for the brand and the consumer, and ultimately the marketer as well.
Draw on Your Own Experience to Think Like a Customer
Coming up with a creative solution to a marketing challenge and benefiting customers in the process is one of the best feelings in the business. You can absolutely, 100 percent, be creative while thinking in a way that always puts the brand and customer first. You just have to be willing to do it and be disciplined in focusing on the right goals.
Everyone has been a customer at one point or another. So start by considering your own experience as a customer and looking at marketing challenges through that lens. When you’re researching a brand for a purchase of your own, does the amount of marketing awards that brand has won factor into your purchasing decision? When you’re dealing with an issue that requires customer service, would you rather chat with a bot, receive automated email responses, or talk with an actual human? Think about the brands that you interact with frequently and consider why you gravitate towards them over the competition.
Seeking feedback from colleagues on your marketing ideas is a great idea but shouldn’t be where you start in your thinking. So often, simple, embarrassing, completely avoidable marketing mistakes are made, simply because nobody involved with the decisions took time to consider things from the perspective of the customer. This is as true for creating a product or developing a service as it is for all the marketing that follows.
..often, simple, embarrassing, completely avoidable marketing mistakes are made, simply because nobody took time to consider things from the perspective of the customer
There is No Shortcut
The best solutions don’t always spring from the most elaborate or exciting ideas. Most of the time, they come from hard work, personal research, and a healthy dose of common sense.
What could be more common sense than thinking about how real customers will react to your marketing? They’re the ones you are trying to convince, after all, but it’s hard to convince someone you don’t take the time to understand. In my opinion, all marketers should take off their marketing hats and study their customers carefully before letting the creative juices flow. Understand their lives.
Research their experiences. Take the time to pick apart their path to purchase and look for ways to make their lives easier. Do all of this before brainstorming any creative, so you’re in the right frame of mind from the beginning. And don’t forget to look at your own purchasing experiences for help.
Fortunately, you have plenty of experience walking in a customer’s shoes… if you’re willing to use it.