Marketing all comes down to changing people’s behavior.
Someone is either going to buy you or they aren’t. If they’re going to buy you no matter what, everything’s fine, just get out of the way. If there’s a chance they might not buy you, then try to do something about it.
There are many possible answers.
You may quickly decide they’re never going to buy you in a month of Sundays. They may not even be in the category and dragging them in may only be for the deepest pockets.
Or they may be madly in love with one of your competitors and the chances of them being unfaithful are slim to none.
So you choose your target. What then?
Well, if they can’t find you, they can’t buy you. So make sure you’re in the right place at the right time.
If you’re in Position A but they don’t notice you, that’s no good either. So get their attention. Sing, dance, dazzle, amuse, charm. Above all, be interesting.
And when they notice you, you want something to happen in their brain, some memory to fire.
It might be simple recognition. A name, a logo, a colour, a shape. Something they remember seeing before.
Better than that is the memory of a good past experience. The simplest view of branding has always been that of building trust. That’s why people like Henry Heinz, William Keith Kellogg and Clarence Birdseye put their names on their packs.
But maybe that person hasn’t tried your product or service before. Or they have tried it before and thought it was OK but nothing special.
So maybe they look at the price. They may think it’s too expensive. You could run a promotion, of course, that’s what everyone does. Or they may think you’re too cheap, in which case you could charge a bit more. Most people charge too little.
Maybe as they’re sitting or standing there, they remember something they’ve heard about you. Someone who liked or disliked you. A story they’ve been told. Or an ad or a tweet that promised some kind of benefit.
Maybe on the pack or the app they can see that promise written in some way or they remember some words from somewhere else. A small marginal gain or a giant change-the-world purpose. It all sounded good. It might even be true.
You could give them a little nudge. We all have our biases. Richard Shotton in his book, The Choice Factory, reckons there are twenty-five that influence what we buy. But I’ve heard others say there are up to two hundred. They’re breeding, those biases.
Or you could somehow tie yourself in to the world that surrounds you, the culture. There are those who say this is everything.
But let’s just say that, despite all of this, that someone at the beginning still hasn’t made a decision. Their hand is hovering at the fixture or on the buy button.
Because let’s say there are two options in contention and they offer pretty much the same thing. There may be the odd difference between the two. But a difference that makes no difference is no difference. Essentially, either of them would do fine.
This is when marketing gets most interesting. Well, for me it does.
Because maybe, as they are momentarily stuck, something hiding away in a corner of their mind starts to shuffle forward nervously into the light.
It’s not the most obvious thing, so it’s often ignored. It’s also quietly spoken, so it can get drowned out by those who noisily demand rationality.
In fact, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Some even feel a bit uncomfortable around it.
Worst of all, it’s hard to measure and these days that’s a cardinal sin.
It’s not an actual message, nothing literal like that. It’s something that has somehow been conveyed and embedded through everything you’ve done up to this point in time.
It’s a feeling. Something about you speaks to that person emotionally. It resonates. Somehow they sense you get what it is they really want. You can meet their needs. Your values are the same. They feel known.
So they say to themselves, sub-consciously, of course: “This is the brand for me.” There’s a connection, you and them.
That moment, that’s the best bit of marketing for me.