In many ways, mainstream marketing is topsy-turvy.
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The job of average marketers is to convince their audiences that a particular brand, designed largely without their input, is a perfect fit for their varied tastes and lifestyles. Instead of designing a brand that the public will like, they simply try to convince the public that their brand is already perfect.
While the traditional process may work for some, the resulting public loyalty is often unpredictable and unreliable. In contrast, the most skilled advertisers practice the art of fitting their ad campaigns to their customers, a more efficient and reliable method of branding. Marketing men and women who become skilled at this process will find themselves on a whole new plane of media mastery.
The quickest way to tailor your company's branding to your customers is to think like an engineer. The best engineers in the world work on through a type of problem-solving process. They begin by identifying a need or desire and then discover a way to fulfill that need. This process has been behind nearly every great technological development through history. The boat was invented because an ancient human understood people's desire to safely cross bodies of water. The calculator was invented because an engineer understood people's need for an adding machine that was both simpler and more reliable than a slide rule. The pattern is always the same. First, inventors identify the desire. Then, they discover a way to fulfill that desire.
To be successful, advertisers must apply the same type of thinking to their branding. The first step is to identify the desires of your particular demographic. For example, if you are marketing swimwear to young adults, the desires that you will be fulfilling may be the desire to be recognized as a mature adult while still dressing fashionably and attractively. Try to zero in on what your particular audience will be looking for when they consider buying your product while avoiding the qualities that may scare them away.
With the relevant desires identified, you now face the challenge of designing a brand that will fulfill all of those needs. Depending on your particular product or service, the name may be a good place to begin. Continuing our example from before, we would want to avoid "trendy" or "immature" spellings of words that might suggest childhood, such as replacing the letter "s" with the letter "z". So, while "Krazy Skillz Swim Trunkz" just won't do as a name, "Maui Pipeline Board Shorts" may fare better.
One caution to keep in mind when pursuing this particular type of branding is that while customers will be attracted to a brand that fulfills their desires, they don't necessarily want that fact shoved in their faces. While the young adults in our example may like the idea of "Maui Pipeline Board Shorts, the classic-cool shorts that are at home anywhere," they probably won't buy "Maui Pipeline Board Shorts, for the young adult who desperately wants to be recognized as mature while still remaining fashionable and attractive." As we've all been told by years of English classes, show - don't tell.
Breaking from mediocre marketing practices and forging new territory can add a lot of return without ballooning advertising budgets. For the entrepreneur trying to drum up publicity on a small budget, knowing your customer can be the most valuable asset of all.