My husband and I took our very smart (and adorable) dog on a big hike recently. Being half adventure-dog and half love-bug, he can’t wait to get outside and show his bold side, demonstrating how agile, fast and smart he is. This time on our hike, Rio was lagging behind and my husband made a comment on his behavior. I explained it by saying that it was a hot day and Rio didn’t know how far we were going, so he was conserving his strength until he figured out our plan for the hike.
In a very sarcastic manner, my husband exclaimed, “Now you’re thinking like a dog!”
I have to say that I took it as a compliment, and started thinking about other situations where I put myself into another’s shoes (or paws) and tried to understand how someone or some animal was thinking or reacting. Of course, this is the essence of marketing. If you can think like someone in your target audience, you can deliver a product and a message that fits that person so that she/he will respond.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be in the target audience. Instead, it involves a little empathy, a little role-playing and a big dose of reality. Often, it involves a little market research to realize who exactly is in the target audience and what the target consumer wants and values in a product like your brand.
In the past, I’ve worked with many brand managers who think that because they use the product that they represent, that their view is also the target audience view. This has led many people astray.
A former CEO that I worked with thought that he knew the target audience, because he was it. However, he had an unlimited shopping budget, chose only the best, highest-quality food and bought it at Whole Paycheck (aka Whole Foods Markets). As it turned out, the heavy users of his brand were from the Motor City and bought the product to satisfy a medical condition, not to make the world a better place. To his credit, when shown the evidence, this CEO immediately changed his perspective and more effectively kept the brand’s rocket ship ride going by understanding the viewpoint of the target audience.
Have you ever caught yourself thinking about your brand in your own terms? How did you step out of this personalization and understand the product or service from your consumers’ perspective?