Tag Archives: strategy

You are not your customer

Apple Watch Edition

I love this article by Amy Hoy on why logic fails to predict what people will buy. Here’s why she’s right, and a way you can model and predict behavior.

Here in the land of high-tech, I see it again and again: Logical, sensible people using logical, sensible arguments to predict what will sell — despite repeated evidence that logic and sense are not why people buy.

I have to confess. This was me:

ipodgen1_jpg_300×346_pixels“You probably didn’t believe anyone would pay $399 for an MP3 player that couldn’t even hold half as much as the Creative Jukebox. You probably knew the iPhone would flop because it didn’t have third party apps, 3G, GPS, multi-tasking or even friggin’ copy and paste.

“You probably thought the iPad was ugh, just a big iPhone, who cares.”

Almost. I was wrong about the iPod and the iPhone, for exactly the reasons she cites here. But when the iPad came along, I had learned my lesson and redeemed myself, winning a bet with an engineer friend who knew, absolutely knew, it would fail.

There is something I do know about who will buy the Apple Watch: it won’t be me, at least not for this year’s product (just as I did not buy the 1.0 versions of the iPod, iPhone, or iPad). That’s the point: I can predict success of a product, but only if my customer happens to be me.

David Packard called it “the next bench syndrome.” In HP’s early days, the company’s engineers could design by asking the guy at the next lab bench what he wanted, because they were designing products that electrical engineers would be using. When they began developing business computers, that model began to fail.

So how do we know what customers will buy? Well, there are some expensive methodologies that work well for established markets but most of my clients have something more like Apple’s market — new markets for new services and products that won’t predict well. And they don’t have Unilever-sized budgets for research. High-tech firms tend to rely on intuition and some sense that they know the customers. Risky business.

You can only know your customers by their actions

Amy Hoy says, “You can only know your customers by their actions.” Between how do you know them all if they’re not you? A methodology that works for many of my clients is persona development.

personas

I define a persona as a customer type based solely on desires and behaviors. We use the company’s inside knowledge to discover a very small set of personas (typically 3-5). The goal is to define them so clearly and concisely that everyone in the company can know them by heart. This is not the same as customer segmentation, which can be complex and detailed. Segments are for automation and procedures; personas are for people. We refine the personas through a series of processes and do small research projects to verify anything that’s uncertain. We create a chart showing each persona’s problems, emotional drivers, what products we have for them, benefits and unique value propositions, competitors, etc. The chart is detailed enough to capture the customer base’s desires but simple enough that everyone can know them.

With carefully designed and researched personas, a company has a fighting chance to know what they will want and make decisions based not on what people in the company would want, but what their real customers and prospects would want.

Content marketing index

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 4.33.13 PM I write a lot about content because, as Altimeter analyst Rebecca Lieb says, “Content is the atomic particle of all marketing.” It’s what marketing is made of. It’s how you deliver value to all customers, including the ones who aren’t paying you. It serves every step of the buyer’s journey. It’s how you make people aware of your brand and move them toward familiarity, purchase, and loyalty.

Here’s an index of the top articles I’ve written here about content marketing:

Getting started

Best practices, building a content machine

  • The top 50 content marketers: Learn from the best.
  • A culture of content: Content marketing can’t succeed if everyone looks to the “content guy.” Here’s how to build content into the organization and make it everyone’s job.
  • My favorite article: What if you could amplify your effectiveness by turning every piece of content into 20? What if you could build a machine to make this happen? Learn how to make Many Pieces of Content from One.

Getting the word out

And all the rest…

Follow the full index: All articles on content marketing, to see everything, including new articles, as they appear.

Content and the Big Idea

Great essay on Rebecca Lieb’s blog today about focusing content on One Big Idea.

The best way to draw quality, valuable traffic and move it toward a profitable end is content marketing. It’s also expensive, so it needs to be done well. By “well,” I mean it has to be driven by a focused and cohesive strategy. How to do that? The “Big Idea.” Rebecca uses IBM and GE as examples. If companies as diverse as IBM and GE can focus their messages, surely we all can, too.

It’s not easy to do but once you have your Big Idea, it makes everything else much easier. But getting there is the hardest marketing challenge for any business because in order to focus on One Big Idea, a dozen ideas become sidebars. And they are your precious babies! But the truth is that when we try to make a dozen great points, we end up successfully making none. We need to trust that when all our ideas report to one, the harmony amplifies all our precious points.

My own business is a good example. What does “marketing consultant” mean? Not much, given all the marketing specialties. Over the course of the past year, I’ve focused more and more on the offering prospects and clients are most responding to: Straightforward Marketing, taking the mystery and opinion out of deciding what marketing tactics make sense for each client.

Does your business have a single identity and a singular focus?