Consumers are not lying awake at night thinking about your brand. In fact they don’t really care at all.

All customers want is for a brand to deliver on its promise.

Every now and then I have a Damascene moment. A blinding flash of the obvious; something I’m sure everybody else has noticed, but not me. The most recent one was this: most brand folks make the basic mistake of believing that there is a world of people who are lying awake at night thinking about our brand – and awaiting, with bated breath, to engage with it.

Guess what: they are not. Mostly, they are hoping that when we take their cash our brand will deliver what they want. Or in marketing spiel, deliver on the customer’s needs.

Of course, there are many brands customers buy regularly, and they may even feel a strong identification with a couple of these. But in reality, the typical customer is not tossing and turning thinking about us.

So, we have execute on the most basic of marketing premises: deliver on the promise of the brand and what the customer wants. And, to be blunt, there are few categories that are bigger offenders than banking and telecoms. If I’m signing up for a mobile phone contract, I should expect the network operator to deliver on a promise of coverage and speed. But is this our everyday experience? The amount of times I have had no signal on a motorway within a few miles of a city is unbelievable.

There is a reason why Ronseal’s tagline ‘It does exactly what it says on the tin’, created by agency HHCL, has entered popular culture and has resonated for over 20 years. And why ‘Should have gone to Specsavers’ has been around for more than 10 years. They speak to the real reason that customers are handing over their cash. Ronseal manufactures wood stain and paint, hardly the most interesting of categories, or something we use everyday of the week. Yet, each and every person in the land can relate to the meaning of the phrase, and it peppers the conversations in the pub.

Many of us do not experience the real life of our customers. We are cocooned, often by necessity, within our offices, talking to the boss, to the team and our agencies.

Perhaps we should try the life of our customers by going to the shopping centres and seeing what they are actually doing. What has always amazed me about dealing with senior management in any of the organisations I dealt with was the inability to see what’s going on in the mind of the customer. Maybe we need to convince the boss, the board and our fellow marketers to be a little more engaged in the hand-to-hand combat of our customers’ daily lives. Maybe being just a little bit more alert, curious and responsive to their world will actually deliver on the brand promise.


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