I’m out on blogger vacation this week. The keys to TheKmiecs.com have been turned over to a few, select, awesome guest writers. The following has not been edited by me and is the work and effort of the original author. I appreciate the time and thinking that went into this post and hope you will too. Enjoy!
During my internship this past summer, a terrible thing happened– I became a cookie snob. I learned to taste subtle differences in cookies that I never knew existed. I could distinguish between brands, levels of margarine and even suppliers of vanilla. I vowed to never again eat a competitor’s cookie because they used cheap ingredients and less chocolate chips. I figured that I should spread my cookie gospel and made it my goal for that summer to educate the masses. I assumed that if people could be convinced that backwards robes were a new product category, I could easily convert the world to be my friends, followers and brand ambassadors.
Months later, I was back at school and found myself up late studying for a final. I was hungry so I went to the cupboard and found some stale Chips Ahoy that my wife had bought months before. I shoved a few down and was satisfied. I wasn’t thinking of the times I stood in front of 15 plates of various cookies with crackers (to cleanse my pallet), water and spit cups. Why would I ever spit out cookies?! I wasn’t concerned with margarine levels or the % pure cacao of the chips. I realized at this moment that when it comes to cookies, for most people, it just doesn’t matter. A cookie is a cookie and cookies are good.
As marketers, we often fall into this trap. We become hyper sensitive to everything in a category, an industry, or even technology in general. We read blogs, industry rags, and hang out with like minded people. Then we sit back and wonder why consumers make the decisions they make. We can’t understand why we don’t have millions followers on twitter and 85% market share. Usually the answer is pretty simple– To consumers, it just doesn’t matter. No one follows you because you sell a packaged meat product, you don’t give away free pastrami, and name dropping your brand doesn’t impress anyone. You don’t have 85% market share because more than 15% of the market doesn’t even know what 3g is and picked their service provider because of the sparkly bedazzled cases they sold at the same mall kiosk.
If you have ever followed me on twitter you have undoubtedly heard me complaining about some variety of stupid product or service and how much of a moron you would have to be to buy the product involved. Rather than have an aneurysm while screaming at the TV, I have been trying to take a different, more consumer focused approach. I sit back and ask myself two questions:
- Who is this commercial talking to?
- What is the most efficient way to eliminate them from the face of the earth? Why does this matter to that consumer?
While sometimes frustrating, I think this struggle is part of the beauty of marketing. It is all about finding out what does matter to our consumers and delivering to them a value equation that makes sense. Sometimes this means we can dumb down and cut costs from our products yet still maintain high levels of customer satisfaction. Sometimes it means we have to just walk away from groups of consumers because we are not in the business of being everything to everyone. It forces us to purge inefficiency from our communications and demands that we’re realistic about our products and their potential.
And if all else fails, just kick up your feet, eat some cookies and take in one of the many life lessons Bill Murray has provided us with over the years.
Byline- Aaron Torchio is currently an MBA student at The University of Indiana, Kelley School of Business. As of May, you can find him in your local bread line. Chat with him on twitter: @torchio