All you can ever be is yourself
I recently had an incredibly delightful client of mine during a persona discussion lay something on me that a lot of us here in marketing land forget- all you can ever be is yourself and if you are trying to be something else, people can spot it. So what do we risk when we are caught up in our own concepts and perceptions? A lot… and here’s why.
My firm belief is every single product ever created has a market, an audience. The reason it exists is because someone somewhere dreamt it up to satiate a desire of their own or a desire they had identified in others, planned it out, saw that it worked and then ran with it. It’s usage can be changed, influenced and stumbled upon by people outside the expected audiences and as a healthy product grows, add extra levels to how it works, its meaning and so forth, but the core of why your product exist does not change. I mean that in aspirational and inspirational terms, not necessarily functionality. That is why it is so very important to understand your product intimately so that when change occurs, you can understand why.
Know who you want.
You can never expect your audience to stay loyal if you sell them a product that is something it isn’t. More than anything, products we purchase are governed not just by need, but what they also mean to us and if you say it means blue when really it means red, first time customers will not be very forgiving. After all, if you don’t represent what you are indeed aiming to get to market for what it is how can you possibly expect the right audience to find you? How can you avoid your consumers being disappointed by what they receive if their first interaction with your product doesn’t match the idea you have sold them? It sounds simple enough, but just how many of us actually take the time when working on a campaign to look at our products for what they are, why they are needed and who they will attract in realistic terms?
Value who you have.
Whilst there is a lot of talk about ROI, tracking, results and metrics, unfortunately a lot of marketers and marketing agencies drift away from the core needs of their product and even away from their audience in an attempt to “reinvent” themselves to gain the alluring “new audience”. But what good is a new audience when the audience you leave behind are the guys who have stayed with you and liked you in the first place who may even reject you for changing tack? Is it worth the poor word of mouth when your previously happy customers are put out to pasture for a shiny new audience?
Know who you are.
For start ups or new product lines, you need to know what you are and who you talk to in order to be able to attract likeminded people. Those likeminded people will become your audience and your customers so if you don’t know who you are, they won’t either. Talk about your product, spend time with it, roll it around in your head and get to know it. DEFINE, DEVELOP, DEPLOY and MAINTAIN in that order. If you cannot define your product, hang out with it until you can. Know it so well it becomes a friend. Even if it isn’t necessarily a representation of yourself and what you would do, you need to be able to define how it speaks, acts, who it talks to and what it will do- and the only way you will do that is if you are honest with your product and understand your audience. Look at it this way- there are a lot of people out there with ideas, incomplete projects, failed products and dead start-ups. Don’t already start in a position where you are on the fast track to Failure Road by ignoring just how important it is to design and make your product authentic in the definition stage.
Knowledge is Power
Either way, if you treat your audience as though they aren’t that bright and will go for anything, that is all you will get- transient first purchase people who like shiny baubles without substance and have the reliability of a wet Kleenex. Remember, if it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. Keep the duck lovers happy and think of new ways of finding more, but don’t put your ducks in tuxedos and try and pass them off as piano players. People will just laugh at you, or think you’re mental.
All you can ever be is yourself. Trust me.
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