As marketers and business leaders, we need to be grounded in reality, not fantasy or idealism.
Our job is much easier when we offer our ideal customers what they really want, not what we think they should want.
Ideally, we shouldn’t care what color a woman’s hair is. Years ago, my wife, Janet, who was a brunette at the time, worked as a teller in a bank. Occasionally, she would wear a blonde wig to work. She was amazed at the compliments that she received and that customers treated her so well as a blonde. It seems blondes really do have more fun.
Logically, people should be interested in prevention, such as having a healthy lifestyle, eating healthy food and exercising regularly. In reality, businesses have found prevention to be hard to sell. People are more interested in solutions to their pain or problems. For example, weight loss pills are popular and easy to sell, even though they might have dangerous side effects. Notice some advertisements for prescription medications mention that some patients have experienced some weight loss when using a prescription medication. Customers suggest the medicine to their doctors hoping they’ll lose weight when they take the medicine.
Our challenge as business leaders is to offer ethical solutions to customers’ problems that will generate enough sales to generate substantial profits. Sometimes you can sell them what they want and “throw in” what they need.
The late, great master copywriter, Gary Halbert, recommended that his students study the Standard Rate and Data Service or SRDS. The mail order section tells the actual results for different publications and product lines. The SRDS is a paid subscription service that you can find at SRDS.com. Online tools can help you find what people are searching for, but not necessarily what they are actually buying.
You can’t rely on focus groups or surveys to find out what people will buy. People will tell you what they think you want to hear. You have to study their actual behavior. The only way to really know is to test advertising campaigns in the marketplace to find out whether customers will actually buy what you offer and which appeal is most effective.
As a marketer and business leader, you have to be a little “hard boiled” and resolve to seek the truth about what your customers really want.