Last night I had the opportunity to hear one of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Gilbert, speak at an event here in Dallas. Like most author events, there was a Q&A at the end. One piece of advice she offered to one of the audience members was to write the book for someone specific. She cited her work on Eat, Pray, Love as an example, telling us that it started out as a letter; a letter to her friend Darcy. Darcy, she explained, would have a very specific interest in her around-the-world trip. The letter would contain meaningful messages for her intended audience.
She went on to clarify that often when people approach her with projects, one of her first questions is always “Who is this book for?” and almost always, the would-be author then provides uninspired, banal demographic information.
It immediately dawned on me that it’s easy to let our marketing efforts take the same approach.
- We have age ranges and target zip codes that help us target our mailings and emails.
- We use market trends and sales reports to shape our product development.
- We rely on income levels to set price points.
The problem with these is that they oversimplify our customer. These data points, while salient, can lead us to neglect the human aspects of being a customer.
Now if you’ve been following me for a while, you know that in reality, I love data. “In God we trust. All others must show data.” Data-driven analysis helps me take emotion out of decision making; it helps me overcome any bias or preconceived notions that I’m bringing to the table. But what if, for the sake of this blog if nothing else, we set aside our empirical data collection and just think about who our customer is? Can you name him? Do you know where he lives? What car he drives? Does he even care what car he drives?
Thinking about the product you hope he’ll buy:
- Why does he want your product?
- What problem are you solving for her?
- What is her number one concern?
- What types of products delight him?
- Is he purchasing it for someone else?
When we think about our customer as a human being, it becomes more conducive to creating more meaningful messages. As Ms. Gilbert’s advice to that young author intimated, when an author speaks to a person, she inherently talks to everyone. When an author speaks to everyone, he talks to no one.
So for your next marketing project, think about who your customer really will be. Create a profile for him or her and think about them as you begin to generate more meaningful messages. If you aren’t sure where to start in constructing your customer profiles, take a look at my previous blog on the topic.
Can’t wait to hear what you think!