Knowledge Bank Blog, Range & Portfolio, Shopper Communication, Channel Execution

Remember What You’re Selling

Are you focused on what you are actually selling?

“Here to help people in pursuit of their dreams, goals and opportunities”.

We heard this tagline on an advert last week.  What company or service do you think it was referring to?  A leading university, a new self improvement programme, perhaps a big medical breakthrough?  No, it was referring to the “Fly Delta” app for Delta Airlines.

Are people going to use the app thinking this will help me “pursue my dreams, goals and opportunities” or will they use it because it is an easy way of booking flights and tracking flight schedules?  We suspect the latter.   So why not tell them why the app is really good?

This reminded me of a meeting I attended with the marketing team of a Laundry brand.  Before the meeting started they wanted to show the new TV ad for the brand.  So, they played it.  It was a nice film – I wouldn’t call it an advert – about a child and the ambition they had for their life.    As we got to the end of the film, I looked across at the marketing director.  She was crying.

Now, I’m pretty sure that she was crying because of the emotion of the film.  Not because she had just realised that nobody who saw the film would ever remember that it was advertising a laundry brand.  When asked for my reaction I managed a “wonderful, really moving…” and left out the “but not moving any product” that I wanted to say.

Why are we talking about this?  Well, the FMCG industry makes really important products – things that are pretty central to our lives.  If you run out of milk, toothpaste, ketchup or toilet roll, you will want to replace them pretty quickly.

Marketers often want to inject these products with much greater meaning.  They try to go down a couple of levels and give shoppers a much deeper reason for using a category or buying a particular brand.  But do shoppers want the deodorant they buy to help them fulfil their ambitions in life or to stop them from sweating?  Do, they want a wine that is “firm, well rounded, with herbaceous, earthy and charcoal notes” or one that is great with steak?

We are not saying that there is no place for emotion, depth and meaning.  What we are saying is don’t get so carried away with what you could be selling that you forget what you are actually selling.

So, how do you keep focused on what you are actually selling?

Think about who is actually buying your product.  It sounds an obvious thing to say – of course you think about who is buying your product.  But is that always the case?   Do you always pay enough attention to who is actually buying the product?

There are two things we often see.  First, is the tendency to design and create for people like ourselves.  The average project team usually has a very different profile from the end buyer.  It is easy for conversations to be (sub consciously) influenced by what the people in the room would like the concept to be.  Second, is the tendency to think about who we would most like the end buyer to be rather than who it really should be.  The number of products targeting millennials is a classic case at the moment.

Talk to people who are less close to the category e.g. friends and family.  Or people who have less of a vested interest in the project.  They can keep you focused on the true target and what is most important.

Think about the environment in which the product is seen and chosen.  We talk about this a lot.  Your category could be one of 30-40 the shopper is buying on that trip.  Your product could be one of a hundred they could choose from in the category.  There might be 3 or 4 brands on promotion.

You can’t rely on a shopper walking down an aisle, or scrolling down a webpage, with your TV or social media ad front of mind, thinking “I can’t wait to buy product X”.  It rarely happens.  The buying environment is where products win or lose.  It is about standing out and being seen before the competition.   Then the (right) messaging can kick in.

Think about what shoppers most need to know.  There are essentially 3 things a shopper needs to know.  What the product is.  What the product does.  Why the product is good.  This needs to drive the hierarchy of information you present to the shopper.  Once you’ve told them what they need to know, you can then think about whether you tell them how it might make them feel.

One of our favourites at the moment is the amount of brands that are saying something along the lines of “great days start with (insert brand name)”.   Then leave the shopper guessing why their day will be so great if they have that product.  Assuming, they know what the product is in the first place, of course.

Your starting point shouldn’t be what would we most like to tell shoppers.  It should be, what do shoppers most need to know?

Remember what you’re selling.  If you don’t, how can you expect shoppers to?

Feel free to forward.  Have a great weekend and speak to you next week.