Irrespective of the products or services that we market or the way we communicate, we are talking to people. We are trying to encourage them to make a purchase and in some cases it takes a matter of minutes, whilst in others it can take months. They aren’t making that decision for our benefit, they are doing it for them. They may like our brand, even rave about it to friends and family, but at the end of the day, the most important brand in the world to them is ME.
As consumers, we want products or services that make us better. Tom Roope from the Rumpus Room, who is talking on this topic at #AMC14 in April and who inspired this blog post, points at the success of Instagram. It instantly makes us all better photographers and therefore improves our personal brands. A lot of purchases are made to make us appear richer, smarter, sexier, faster, funnier, cooler…
This is why any campaign with a strong social element to it should enable people to enhance their brand image. It also explains why some social media campaigns are so successful – they give us a platform from which we get to look great (as well as a reason to share that experience).
But this isn’t limited to the B2C space. This ME brand focus is also prevalent across the corporate and B2B sector. However, it is here that it is often overlooked, as is the whole subject of behavioural economics (a topic that we explore every year at Another Marketing Conference).
Even in companies large and small, the person making the decision is not just thinking about what is right for the company, but what is right for them. Will this decision make me more indispensable? Will I get a raise or promoted? Could I get fired if this goes wrong?
If we assume that all purchasing decisions are made just through a carefully considered and rational decision making process then we are kidding ourselves.
But how many times do we consider the person making the decision? Do we communicate the personal benefits? Do we look at how we can make our customers more popular, more influential? Could we do more? Could subtle differences make a world of difference? Can we make them look and feel good?
How do we ensure that our customers see a relationship between purchasing our products and services and improving their personal brand image?
The whole subject of behavioural economics (aka social sciences) is gathering momentum in marketing, but it is still barely understood. I think we fall back on what we’ve been doing rather than face the challenges of rethinking what we do. Maybe the problem is with the people we work for – do they see the customers as rational, simple people with clear requirements? We’ve got to understand more about herd behaviour, nudging and basic human psychology. But an even bigger challenge awaits us it seems – selling behavioural economics to the people we work with.
We must always remember that we are dealing with complicated, emotional, irrational human beings who aren’t put on this world to make us money. Instead we are here to enhance their lives through the products and services they purchase.