Marketing-What in it for Me?

December 11, 2006

The Mousetrap Series…by Matt Michel
The Mousetrap Series is about helping you sell more mousetraps, no matter what the mousetrap is that you sell. I don’t care how good your mousetrap is, few people will buy it if you do not market it well.

2. People Don’t Care About You. They Care About Themselves

One of the biggest marketing mistakes people make is to talk excessively about their companies. Your customers don’t care about you. They care about themselves.

Granted, there are a few lucky companies that have managed to attract a cult-like following. A manufacturer of overpriced motorcycles sold primarily to middle aged biker wannabes comes to mind. No offense, but I doubt you are in the same league with Harley-Davidson. Their customers actually care about them. Your customers care about themselves.

Don’t drone on about things your customers could care less about (i.e., you). Talk about things that interest them (i.e., themselves). You see, your customers are tuned into the radio station, WII-FM 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. WII-FM is What’s In It For ME!

Don’t talk about your company. Talk about what your company can do FOR your customers.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

How do you figure out what your customers want? Psychologist Abraham Maslow developed a "Hierarchy of Needs" to help explain human behavior. According to Maslow, people are motivated by physiological needs first, such as food, water, clothing, and breathing. If you can’t breathe, for example, little else matters. If you’re hungry, the world’s greatest automotive ad isn’t going to motivate you the least.

Once these needs are satisfied, the next level in the hierarchy is safety and security needs (avoidance of fear and anxiety, health, job security). Beyond safety and security come social needs (love, belonging, family, friendships). Next are esteem needs (respect, adulation, recognition). At the pinnacle of the hierarchy is self actualization (doing whatever the heck is that you want to do for the pure joy of doing it).

Your customers will fall at different places along Maslow’s Hierarchy at different times. If you are a plumber and your customer’s water heater is broken, that represents a physiological need. It trumps everything else. Customers care little about anything besides getting hot water.

When the economy slips and people are worried about their jobs, security needs predominate. They will choose to repair and old product rather than replace it because they are worried about money and their financial security. They will attempt DIY solutions they would otherwise avoid. Thus, attempts to market discretionary purchases will often yield poor results in a bad economy. Instead market things people must have and market discretionary purchases to people with little to fear from the economy (e.g.., civil servants).

Think about each of your products and services and what needs are satisfied. Then, think of how you can identify groups in that category and what you will say to speak to the core need. Alternatively, think about what products and service you offer that fill each need. The more basic the need, the better the response you can expect.

Classic Appeals
There are a number of appeals that have been used over and over. They are used because they work. The classic appeals are:

  • Save money
  • More security/safety
  • Prestige
  • Enjoyment
  • Comfort
  • Freedom from worry
  • Advancement
  • Less hassles
  • More time

What does your company offer that fits each of these appeals?

So What?
Years ago, I worked on a few video projects with David Dunlap. Dave is a GREAT videographer. He can also be a real pain to work with because he wants perfection, exactly what you want from a videographer. I would waltz into Dave’s office and tell him I want to make a video on "90+ AFUE furnaces." Dave would look at me and say, "So what?"

"What do you mean, ‘So what?’"

"Why should anyone care? Why would anyone want to waste their time watching your video?"

I would explain. Dave would listen.

"So what?"

And we would repeat the process until I got down to a core benefit. Then he would say, "Ah ha. Now that’s interesting."

90+ AFUE furnaces…

So what?

They’re efficient…

So what?

They use less gas…

So what?

They lower utility bills…

So what?

People with 90+ furnaces have more money each month…

So what?

They use the money they save to buy stuff they want, but can’t afford now…

AH HA!

Video Title: The Furnace That Will Pay For Your Vacation

Remember, the customer is tuned into WII-FM, 24/7/365. Talk about how things will affect him. Market to his core needs. Stress customer benefits.

Marketing is not rocket science, though few rocket scientists could ever market. They would get too hung up on the features.

Source: Comanche Marketing. Reprinted by permission.
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Copyright © 2003 Matt Michel

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