16 June 2010

Listen to your audience, not your gut

One of the oldest criticisms of the advertising business is that its people are out of touch with its audiences. We hear this a lot because it's true.

Nature vs. Nurture

You may have read (here or here) about a recent Xyte Inc. study finding that most ad people are of a particular personality type that shapes the messages we produce.

Unfortunately, those messages don't connect as well with the other personality types that represent most consumers.

Blind Spots

The diagram above came from a colleague's presentation about social media. He was pointing out how most marketing people think iPhones are ubiquitous, while in reality they're not (yet).

iPhone penetration is such an easy thing to ascertain, so why would it be such a blind spot? Because we don't stop and look beyond our own experience.

Start with the basics

The implication is that we have to work extra hard to understand our consumers. Recently we've posted about empathy toward consumers (here and here), which takes sustained effort.

Start by using your iPhone to your advantage. Look up some basic data, such as the average weekly grocery budget in a typical household. (Some people say it can be $20.)

Make it a habit

Don't stop with one statistic, though. Work hard to get a feel for what your audience is really like. Listen to them every opportunity you get.

Regardless of your personality type, building a relationship with someone takes time and effort. If we treat our audiences this way, our messages will be relevant and our work better.

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