On Thursday last, we held our Vistage Open Day at the Theatre of Dreams (that's the Manchester United ground at Old Trafford for the uninitiated) when we had over 80 people there to hear a great Vistage speaker, Peter Knight, expound on his HEMP system, the Highly Effective Marketing Plan. (read the book, it's excellent and very usable)
Peter made the point that we, the customers, don't really care that the product has been made in a state of the art, air-conditioned factory. It could have been made in a cramped underground facility by trained primates for all that it matters to us.
Alright, we don't expect it to have been made in a way that exploits vulnerable people and that is a valid moral stance, but you get what I mean.
Many pieces of marketing "stuff", be it print, digital or even audio-visual, can be very self-indulgent when viewed with a discerning eye. How many leaflets have you seen with a photograph of the company's office block or "the team" or, heaven forfend, the Chief Executive, in a prominent position?
Ask yourself, would that encourage a customer to buy from you? Ask yourself another disturbing question - what is the purpose of this piece of marketing?
The answer is, usually, that I want it to tell people what we do and how well we do it, but is that what the customer wants to know? The days are long gone when we can merely say that this is our product range and then expect the world to beat the proverbial path to our door.
The Swiss engineer, Hans Renold, who in the late 19th century in Manchester invented the roller chain which has become a world standard of mechanical engineering power transmission, said that he would decide which companies were worthy of buying and using his chain.
Such lordly statements would carry little weight in these more competitive times but in the early days of his business, it genuinely worked and he built the foundations of an exceptionally successful business.
Naturally, following the expiry of the patent, the rest of the world decided to make roller chains, and far less expensively than its creator.
In the end, the customer wants to know one thing and one thing only and that is, the answer to the WIIFM question; if that is what you are selling, What's In It For Me?
Selfish? Of course it is! But I don't want to know how it's been made, where it's been made, who made it, who invented it, what sort of an office block you have or any other peripheral and not too interesting bits of information, so keep them off your marketing literature. They get in the way of what I want to know.
What I want to know is, will it solve my problem, will it fit into my strategy, will it be economically viable; in other words, What's In It For Me?
All the other factors, the office block, the "team", even the Chief Executive; "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn".
By the way, anyone know the next (and last) line of the film?
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