Be yourself...but not in Marketing!

September 3, 2018

Let me preface this blog with this statement: If you are a struggling teen with social issues, don't read this as guidance. If you are in the creative advertising field, carry the content of this blog with for all the days of your professional life!


Growing up, I was always told to "think for yourself" and to "be yourself" but I never imagined that everyone was so wrong!


I began my Creative career in the early 1980's. I was working as an illustrator and designer for a small Marketing Company in the Midwest. The President of that company, Jerry Noetlich told me the wisest thing I've ever heard. He said "forget your happiness and hardships and become WHO you are talking to, and you will be successful." At first, I thought that he had just come back from an "executive lunch" but, through the years, I've come to understand what he meant.


In order to be successful in Marketing and Creative Advertising, you really have to think like everyone OTHER than your self! 

As a Creative Director for nearly 30 years, I've learned more about people from thinking like THEM! I put myself in THEIR shoes. I take THEIR path to work. I put myself in THEIR day-to-day lives and look for touch points that help me to deliver a relevant message directly to them! Then I do the exact same thing for another person with a different life. And another with still different circumstances. Then another, and another, and so on.


The truth is, unless I am marketing directly to myself, I MUST think like someone else. I'm a strange creature, so I doubt that I would want to market to me. So I practice this exercise of thinking from another's perspective multiple times every day.


Don't get me wrong. I realize that "being unique" is a different statement than "think for yourself" but when it comes to how I "think" or what I "want" - then, I have to change my thought process. Oh, I stop in and visit my own thoughts once in awhile, but when it comes to creative marketing messaging, I am last on the list!


What this all means is simple...If you want to REACH certain people, you have to THINK like those people. So this is where the "work" begins.


Apply statistics: Define WHO you are talking to by the product or service that you want to push. Start with determining if the person you are targeting is of a given age, sex, or geographic location. What is their financial situation? Do they have kids? What are their likes and dislikes? Is your product something that fits in their general lifestyle?


Now apply psychology: You have to image what THEY are experiencing. What are THEIR woes and worries? What excites and motivates them? What is on their mind TODAY? Are they receptive to a certain type of message?


These questions begin to outline a core audience. No two individuals are the same, so getting too specific can cause an endless assessment exercise, so stay broad at this point. Now, look at the product and service. Think of when this consumer might need it. But keep in mind, odds are that they are NOT thinking about it today, or this week, or even this month, so now you have to expand your message to STAY in their mind until they need you!


For example: Think of a snow shovel as your product. You can certainly narrow down the geographic range to Northern climates. You can be sure the need won't be there during summer months. So n ow you have location and time (generally) now all that you have to do is figure out WHO. It could be a teen looking to make money in the neighborhood, or an adult with no kids (or very lazy ones) or maybe a custodian for a small business. Whatever the case, now you can begin to craft your message by thinking like the end user!


You might have better results when you speak to a specific audience (unless you are BRANDING, and that is another blog!)

A young teen wants to know that he can make a lot of money real fast and not be out in the cold too long. So it is the fastest money-maker!

A young adult may consider shoveling snow to be a form of exercise. So it is ergonomically designed for maximum load with speed and efficiency!

A custodian wants to know that the shovel will be durable and last. The strongest, toughest snow removal tool of the season!


We have a message. Depending on WHEN and WHERE you deliver the message, your effectiveness varies. Think about WHAT the teen might be doing. Probably not thinking about "work" and certainly not about snow-days! But if they are playing video games and they want to "upgrade" to a higher level, they may need money. THERE is your magic moment! Write the creative for THAT very point in time and deliver it to them! Now think like the young adult, or the custodian and apply the same formula!


Think like them and you will be successful!

With "Big Data" access, it is so crucial (and much easier) to reach a very specific targeted audience. So the message NEEDS to be precisely, and strategically positioned to maximize efficiency.

On top of that, we need to constantly evaluate our message to make sure we are current, and more importantly, in AHEAD of the competition! You have to think like them as well!


Think like everyone else, and you will be successful!



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