It’s very personal

Imagine it's someone you care deeply for when you're justifying business practices. In my head I sometimes see Grandpa Juan.

Imagine it’s someone you care deeply for when you’re justifying business practices. In my head I sometimes see Grandpa Juan.

I never fail to surprise myself when I catch myself saying “It’s not personal, it’s business.” When in reality all business is personal and emotions come into play at every touch point.

It has always been this way. When I was in high school and my history teacher, Mrs. Miller talked about how hunter-gatherers would trade from the early agrarian societies that was business in its purest form. A fair exchange based on value and trust. And in middle school, when I traded my peanut butter and jelly sandwich for a school lunch ticket, it was very personal.

Why is business now about a balance of power? Holding the “consumer” at arm’s length. Making the transaction between them and us. Brands and consumers. I refuse to accept the use of currency as an excuse. Go back just one generation and the local grocer knew that at a basic level.

When did people stop being people and become, traffic, customers, users, members, followers or a target audience?

The people I want to do business with, the ones I want to connect with and am hoping will respond are not just labels in my marketing vocabulary or a share of their wallets to be transacted with.

They are my friends, my family, and these people deserve to be treated like it’s personal. Because when I make a connection with them it becomes person. No matter how they rationalize their buying decision. It is personal to them and it should be to you.

Good Marketing/Bad Marketing

The most you can hope for is to try to maintain your influential role in consumers' decisions and behavior.

The most you can hope for is to try to maintain your influential role in consumers’ decisions and behavior.

Customers are becoming more and more fed up, but really they are just tired and annoyed by bad marketing. Customers appreciate relevant information because it is the only way to be updated about what is interesting to them. Marketing has always been, and it will always be about being the connection between you abd your customer. You must be caring, helpful and even entertaining. And sincere.

Everyone buys for a different reason. Being helpful to your customer requires investing more time on the strategy and basics of communication.

Companies feel that they can’t afford the extra time, but what they really can’t afford is to keep annoying customers. This is your wife, your son, your Dad. Many companies don’t think in these terms. Unnecessarily annoying your friend is making it harder for everyone else, including you, to get the chance to tell your story. In the near future, the person annoyed today will become more reluctant to engage with you.

It is bad enough that so many brands compete for the same customers, but it makes it even worse when others that have nothing helpful to offer or say simply join the noise.

Part of the problem is not enough resources, relevant information and time to do a good job at trying to target potential customers. It’s more effective to be helpful to a few than annoying to many. This way, we have a better chance to succeed and customers will want to learn and be helped.

Conclusion – for now

In order for your company to maintain your influential role in your consumers’ decisions and behavior, you have to do a much better job. Personal marketing is more difficult to plan and execute, but it is the only way to convince customers that today is the day they should buy from you. And you won’t break your trust to them tomorrow.

One of the biggest mistakes in marketing is to think that marketers are the experts when the truth is that customers are. The customer tells us if we are right or wrong. Still, in most cases we don’t listen to them.

I listen.

Hope is no way to do business

What is your customer really looking for?

What is your customer really looking for?

We have a tiny farmers market in Redlands every Saturday morning. Each week these small local farmers show up and hope. They hope that someone might come by and buy something. And then hope even more that they will fall in love with their produce and become their customer for life. The sellers show items that any passer-by might want, usually the same produce that they could get somewhere else if they weren’t going to buy it on impulse between 9am and 1pm on this Saturday.

The girl selling honey has a different strategy. She understands the worldview of the hipsters and grandmas who come to buy her honey. They don’t really want honey; they want to feel more connected to the world. They want a story. And honey from the daughter of a World War II veteran who returned from the war and only wanted to raise bees and produce organic, unrefined, unfiltered, single crop honey has a cool factor. And that she is helping him live his dream even now is a great, feel good story.

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The honey maker knows her customers and what makes them tick before she sets up her stall, and she creates special offerings just for them. And people line up to pay for her stories she tells.

It shows me that understanding your customers is a better strategy than hope.

Ideas come in many forms

What inspires you? Make the emotional connection be authentic.

What inspires you? Make the emotional connection be authentic.

A movie. A label on a can.

A directional sign at the beach.

Recognizing and harnessing the spark is the hard part. Seek more inspiration.

How the best creative happens

You're not being paid to create art. You're being paid to communicate a message.

You’re not being paid to create art. You’re being paid to communicate a message.

The best creative happens when we don’t try to design it and just get our ego out of the way. Just share the message. If your customer wanted a masterpiece, they would go to an artist and just say, “Create!” But if your customer wants a brochure about their company, tell their story. Don’t try to create a portfolio piece or win an award. The more you try to show off, the more you get in the way of the message.

And when the brochure makes a customer buy that product that is the best creative in the world.

The Riches Are In The Niches

Have 23 target markets?

My advice to you is simple: pick one. Focus all of your energy on one market, and then once you’ve made this market notice you, and then love you, branch out. Branching out happens after you have achieved millions in annual revenue.

Of course, every industry and every niche is its own unique situation, but this is for sure: You must dominate your niche before you expand your reach.

One niche - 45 holes. And this is just one restaurant. What's your niche and how do you plan to fill it?

One niche – 45 holes. And this is just one restaurant. What’s your niche and how do you plan to fill it?