Why Marketing Programs Fail – Reason #3

You Design for Yourself and Not the Customer

A number of years ago I worked for an ad agency for one of the big 3 auto makers.  My team had just completed an extensive analysis of customers who bought a car and what made them tick.  While delivering our findings we called out the fact that first-time new car buyers like the vehicle a lot.  At this point the brand manager interjected “Oh that can’t be right – Car A car is our entry level car.  Car B is supposed to be our BMW 3 series fighter”

Needless to say our marketing did not convert the BMW aspirant to Detroit Steel. 

Not knowing who your customer is (and what is important to them) is another sure-fire way to kill a marketing program.  More unforgivable is the point illustrated above – ignoring who your customer is to fit into a niche you have created for them.  Big companies have a tendency to do this – despite having a vast amount of customer data and access to research.  So here again is another list of things you ought to consider to become more customer centric 

  • If your customers all say service is an issue.  It probably is.  If you can not solve your service issue, do not tell the world about your ‘great service team’.  Focus on what you do well.  Denny’s would never promote service or cleanliness.  They promote price and volume (of food).
  • Evolve into what you think your customers want.  Revolutionary change rarely works.  Change a few things in your messaging/creative and gradually move towards the end state.  And don’t forget to test the changes you make.
  • Don’t force customers into response channels because they are cheap. A lot of companies drive customers to website or automated phone (IVR) systems because of the low cost to serve.  However, if your product is complicated or is better suited to person to person interaction, a bunch of voice prompts or stale FAQ’s will do a lot of damage to customer perception.
  • Form an online panel of customers to tell you how they feel.  An online panel is particularly useful in getting real-time opinions to current events, new products, or on-going issues.  They also can become evangelists for your brand.  A good panel is invaluable.

I hope these tips help you grow your business.  If you’ve got questions or think I am full of it, reply back and tell me what you think.  I’ll listen.


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