Why It’s Not Working

GAWWWWWWD…Doesn’t it (vulgar word alert) piss you off when someone tries to convince you that everything they think is right? It can make the hair on your neck stand on end,  and our teeth grit. It’s soooo invalidating and what make their opinion better than our own?

An expert marketing friend of mine once laughed when I asked him, “what the most challenging part of marketing.” I was surprised. He told me the hardest part is doing what you were hired to do. You see, he said, marketing is all about selling your product to OTHER people, not to yourself, yourself usually meaning your client, the business owner. And yet, the same owner who hired you to figure out what the customer thinks of the product, what the customer wants and how to best say it to the customer, will fight you, the marketing guru,  tooth and nail  about how to market their product, cuz’ they’re pretty darn sure that how they see the product is how everyone else sees it — and if not, well, they should!

I can’t help you with client-relations, but you may not be getting the results you’re hoping your marketing efforts will achieve for the same reason as the business owner I poked a little fun of up above. You see, we can’t help it. The nature of our existence is that we’re all stuck in our own experience   —assuming everyone else knows what we are thinking, knows what we want, understands what we’ve said in the same way we do, and values the same things we do — and despite our best efforts (some are more successful at it than others) it’s easy to fall into this trap, even when we are trying not to.

But we can overcome this with a handy little tool I discovered during one project when my client wasn’t seeing eye to eye with my customers ( or so it seemed after focus testing.)  Trying it could really pay off.

The Formula

Say you want to sell a product. Create a 5 column chart for yourself. The top row should have the following Titles:

Assumptions I am Making  ->  What I Know  -> What I Don’t Know  -> What I am Going to Do About It  ->  Desired Outcome

Are you seeing where I am going with this?

Now, let’s try filling out just one row…It might look something like this…

The yellow rows are examples of making decisions based on  your own opinions–it’s a little tough love I’m giving, but unless everyone else thinks the same, or you really do know it all, well..you might be making choices based on the wrong information. The white columns show actions that are being taken to get better informed and more closely in tune with the customer.

Look, it’s so easy to take actions that are based on assumptions we’ve made that only include our own experience, behavior, opinions or likes and dislikes. Maybe its a tone we find funny, or a style of photography we thing looks “cool.” But we aren’t the customer. It’s their point of view we need to learn about in order to make more informed campaigns: a tone they think is funny, photography they like, a price they think the can afford. Our job is NOT to convince anyone to think like us—it’s about resonating with THEM, hopefully over shared values, our own if we are marketing something we believe in personally, or with the companies’ values, which is often the case.

When your message resonates with your customer, they are more likely to get excited about what you have to offer, and that can mean better return on investment for your efforts. You don’t want to spend all sorts of money advertising in a way that won’t captivate your audience. If you aren’t on their page, it’s going to be lonely being on your own page all by yourself.

So next time you are creating actions to take to market your or someone else’s product, try writing out these five columns and what you don’t know, or what you aren’t doing about what you don’t know, might surprise you. And knowing this, you might make different choices, ones that help you to base your effort on how your client sees themselves and  your product, not on your own opinions. Unless, of course, you plan to be the only customer. Ha! Just teasing.

There are so many methodologies to market research, but this is the one I come back to again and again, at least to start with,  because it is so simple, and it helps me to catch myself making those damaging little assumptions.

I hope you will find this helpful too. If not  I know you’ll find or create the approach that is perfect for you. And when you do, please share it in the comments below. We’d love to hear about it!


We\'ve recently changed our name to Cove Hill Design. You can still reach us at the same contact name, cathykelleydesign.com.

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