The target group! Who shall we invite? Needs – actual?
At the same time he asked:
“May I hear what you came up with yesterday evening when you were surfing the net? Or perhaps you fell asleep at once when you arrived home?” Gus smiled playfully, not letting Nick answer, and continued himself:
“I'm sure you noted that most companies make it easy for themselves and only say what they do instead of saying how they plan to offer a good deal. What idea lies behind the business? Perhaps it's part of human nature not to boast and talk about success and money…”
Gus pointed at Nick and said bluntly, “Who?” he asked, looking Nick straight in the eye. He produced a piece of cardboard with The Party Marketing Model that was leaning against the wall and placed it up on the desk.
“Who should be invited? Who is in my target group? And what needs do they have? These are some of the most important questions a company can ask. And when you arrange a party, invite 65-year olds to a punk party and you'll see how many turn up. Or try inviting 20-year-old guys to a demonstration of washing machines. There's probably zero likelihood of anyone showing up. And I promise, these aren't just my prejudices. I just want to demonstrate how important it is to circle the right target group for my product or service. How were you thinking when you were deciding who to invite to the Around the World Party?”
Nick felt that he deserved an answer.
“Well, our primary target group was the company personnel. But we also had to invite our partners, customers and collaborative partners.”
“You could have invited just the staff to a simple party with food and drinks at the office. Or the customers to a dinner at a fine restaurant. The fact was that the product was a party that your boss and everyone invited had to be very pleased with and the goal was to create something unique and different for all the guests in order to boost everyone's relationship with the company.”
Gus noted that Nick was still looking a bit unsure, so he felt that he had to provide some more examples.
“If I manufacture a kiss-proof lipstick, then my target group is all the women in the world who are looking for a kiss-proof lipstick, in the right color and that doesn't rub off onto the man's shirt collar… or if I am making invites to a party to find my dream woman, I would also be able to invite all the women in the world to the party in the hope that one of them was interested in a fellow like me. But naturally that would be impossible, everyone knows that.”
Nick pretended to look unsure so that Gus would have to continue.
“If you're selling a consumer product, shoes for instance, then the market consists of everyone who has feet. If, on the other hand, you are selling printing presses to printing works, then the market consists of a small number of companies. The better you can describe your target groups, the easier it is to subsequently formulate advertising messages, etc., and select the most effective ways to access them. You can then talk to them directly and resolve their specific needs.”
Approaching the pad once again he wrote:
Needs – what do they want?
“The next question has to be what the target group actually wants. If we consider your party then the question is whether your guests simply wanted to eat and drink well. Or did they answer in the affirmative because they wanted to have a bit of fun together and perhaps be a success on the dance floor? As a salesman, can you always be certain about which needs you are actually satisfying? Are there several needs to be satisfied simultaneously? So Nick, tell me how you find out what the actual needs are?”
Nick felt that Gus was expecting a good answer, so he thought for a while before replying.
“Ask what, Nick?”
“Ask what they are interested in and how they think and listen to both what they say and what they don't say.”
“WHY is one of the most important words within marketing. If you can say precisely why your products should be selected, then the customers will also respond to the question with a corresponding BECAUSE and so make a purchase.”
“I'm thinking of Maria who works with me,” said Nick. “She's always asking why things are as they are. Almost a bit of a pain sometimes. She questions most of what is said, both by managers and colleagues. But now I realize that it might not be so stupid to ask WHY more often than too rarely, to not take everything for granted or pretend that you understand…”
Gus laughed in recognition at Nick at the same time as he approached his desk, opened a drawer and took out a beautiful case. He held the case out to Nick, opened the lid and there lay a drill on dark-blue velvet.
“This is what it's all about,” he said with a knowing expression, and it was clear that this was not the first time Gus had done the demonstration. “Millions of drills are sold around the world every year, and yet nobody needs a drill! How can that be?”
Nick felt that now Gus was being daft.
“What do you mean? If you buy a drill, then you obviously need it.”
“Yes, you might think so, but it's not really the whole truth. Put a bit more thought into it. What I'm after is the real need.”
Nick felt his mind go fuzzy. He struggled to try and work out whether Gus had just asked a trick question. The old fellow is playing games with me, he thought. “No, I can't,” said Nick and after a further period of silence Gus said:
“The hole! It's the hole you need! One day there's sure to be a laser gun on the market that automatically sets the required size of hole, you'll just press the barrel against the wall and bang – you have the perfect hole! What's going to happen then with all the drills? And drilling machines? Well, if the new hole-punching method is good enough and the price is right, the drills will ultimately disappear. Just the same as with the adding machines if you remember…
“Or take the research and development departments and the designers of washing machines that are so hopelessly impressed by their technical solutions that the customers, mainly women, completely ignore. The customer only has one primary need! And what is that Nick?”
“To clean clothes, even though electricity consumption and the environment are starting to be important factors, in particular for women.”
Gus gave the thumbs up and continued, “If you link needs together with target groups then you realize that a company and a product frequently have the same target group with different needs. We can consider two examples where one and the same product satisfies different target groups and needs.”
“In terms of pens then the principle need is to be able to write on paper. Perhaps you, Nick, go to the stationers to buy pens to write out orders. Or is there a person in the company who is responsible for buying stationery, and who determines what is to be procured according to what the staff require? Perhaps the general manager would like an expensive gold pen, not just for writing but also to make an impression. The secretary is content with a nice, functional fountain pen for everyday use, and the guy in the stores is happy to have a pencil behind his ear to show that he is constantly on the go and ready to tick off the orders he has packaged for dispatch.”
“Is buying a pen so difficult?” Nick wondered.
“No, I just wanted to show that if you manufacture and sell pens then there are more needs that have to be met than the basic one of being able to write.”
“Hmm, I feel I'm starting to view things with a different perspective from how I saw things before,” said Nick with admiration in his voice. “But what about computers then?”
“Well, their function is to provide a solution to the need to generate and convey information to a large number of people inside or outside the company. A computer is a more expensive and more long-term investment than a pen. Here, too, there are several people with different needs who have to use them, such as the need for speed, writing, mailing, making presentations, calculating, having it with you or on your desk, etc. And then perhaps it has to be attractively designed. Lots of people need to receive comments from their surroundings such as: ‘Wow, have you got one of THOSE computers!'
“So, there are many ‘WHYS’ that have to have answers, and ‘BECAUSES’ that have to be explained!” He wrote on the back of a golf magazine that was on the table:
The purchaser has the responsibility to find the right computer based on the user's needs, a high level of service and the right price.
The MD thinks about the overall financial situation and staff efficiency and wants to increase motivation – different needs, in other words.
When communicating in marketing you have to speak one language to the everyday user and point out which solutions they can have for their various needs. The general manager, who will never use that particular computer, wants to hear arguments such as more efficient staff and better finances.
“That was rather a lot to take in,” said Nick a bit hesitantly, “but if I have understood correctly, it is important to do the best possible groundwork in assessing the target group, so that everything falls into place later. And it then becomes easier to know what to do and say, and to whom!”
“Never forget WHY! It is the finest and most beautiful word imaginable,” said Uncle Gus dreamily. “Without an answer to WHY, it is easy to get lost in life. Why did you invite Liza in particular to accompany you to the party? Only YOU know and have the answer.”
“By the way,” continued Gus, “there are a number of other important fundamental human needs that also govern our buying and selling behavior.”
“Food and drinks,” Nick blurted out with the party in mind.
“Yes, essentially, but this is what I'm thinking about,” said Gus, allowing his hand to move as light as a feather over the pad.
Seen, acknowledged and loved!
“An actor taught me that everyone wants to be seen, acknowledged and loved. And there are numerous businesses in the ‘seen, acknowledged and loved sector’ without their actually knowing it. But let's consider an example. Say that you are going to buy a new jumper. What needs do you have?”
“Well, I guess it has to cover my body and keep me warm. And I suppose it wouldn't hurt if it is also nice-looking,” said Nick.
“But why does it have to be nice-looking? Why have you got a Valentino suit?”
“Well, you don't want to buy something ugly, do you?” said Nick as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
“No, clearly not, but the lovely word WHY also crops up again in this context.”
Gus jabbed Nick in the chest with his index finger. “Why does it have to be nice-looking?”
“Surely you want everyone around you to think you have a nice jumper, or suit…”
“You are seen and you receive acknowledgment! Perhaps even loved?”
All of a sudden Nick realized the connection. He recognized himself.
“You are absolutely right. If I lived beside a mountain lake without any company, then I would probably only care whether it was warm and comfortable.”
“Precisely. But back home again among friends it is important to have the right label. To show you are with it. Though inside, if you understand… When I think about it, the label is nothing but an ego trip. That enables me to be seen and acknowledged. I haven't looked at it that way before,” said Nick, and noticed the logo on Gus's polo shirt that showed it as exclusive and expensive.
“But if you didn't choose the same clothes as others in your surroundings, would you feel outside?”
“Sometimes, this is the harsh reality, unfortunately. But it is important to understand this when working in marketing. That's why beautiful people are usually shown in magnificent settings in exclusive designer clothes. And we want to identify with them. We want what they have and want to be like them.”
“In order to be seen, acknowledged and loved,” Nick concluded.
“Yep. That's how it is, dearest Nick. Anyway, right now I have to work on an important campaign presentation that we are giving tomorrow morning. Oh, and by the way, one more thing before I sum up,” said Gus. “Have you thought about how much revolves around food, training and well-being throughout the media right now? A lot of people think that you can eat your way to beauty, health and a longer life. I think I know which hidden needs lie behind the trend.”
“I think I can work it out too,” said Nick to Gus's great surprise. “I think that people need to feel they are smart. Even so smart that they can cheat life.”
“Fantastic, I'm impressed. It is the need to feel we are smart that can control the choice of what we eat and drink. So, I'll sum up first then give you your homework afterwards. Questions that need answers are:
Who is your customer? (In reality?)
What needs does he or she have? (In reality?)
Why should he or she buy our product or service? (Because!)
“On your way home I want you to look a few people in the eye, smile slightly and give them a friendly nod. Note what reactions you get. Have you got the guts?”
“Whoops! You've got it, welcome on board. See you tomorrow at twelve. I'll organize lunch.”
He started his experiment with Christine on the way out. She smiled back and he had a warm sensation right through his body. He sensed that this was really interesting and nice at the same time.
On the way home he received a lot of happy smiles and hellos in return. Apart from one guy who probably thought that Nick was flirting.
However, he thought, as has been said, it's not possible for everyone to love everyone in the world. But you'll often succeed if you just try, he said to himself feeling smart.