What’s That Smell? Marketing is a Guessing Game.

Have you ever smelled something and sworn it was, say, baking bread only to find out it wasn’t even close to that?  For me, it turned out that smell was actually paint!

A recent marketing class I listened to was less than helpful regarding how to ‘know’ what your target audience wants.  It explained that the traditional and only effective way to be sure of an audience’s preferences and behaviors is to conduct a thorough study including polls, case study groups and so on.

This stuff can get so in depth that some people are paid to keep a monitor on their TV and then use a scan card during shopping so analysts can see the correlation to what advertisements a person was exposed to and what they bought.

And you know what?  Even after all that costly analysis, the consumer market moves so fast that the results may not even be worthwhile after a few months!  That’s a lot of money (I have no idea how much) for very little gain.

So what’s the other option? Get a ‘scent’ of what is going on. 

Talk to current customers, poll people informally and use that limited data to help jump start your theories.  They will always be theories.  For instance: Is couponing a good idea?  Some people will tell you, especially penny-savvy consumers, that coupons are almost expected now.

But coupons don’t necessitate customer loyalty as they cut your bottom line and lower the expectation for the price a customer is willing to pay for a good or service. So coupons could mean your customer base will ‘wait you out’ until you send another coupon.  It could also mean getting new customers in the door that are so ‘wowed’ by your work that you get referrals.

This and ALL marketing will be something of a shot in the dark, but if you follow your nose and see what happens by your guesses, you will eventually fine tune your senses for future marketing.

After all, I didn’t even see the paint cans; I just stood in the hallway and processed that smell a little longer, noting a faint hint of chemical and how strong it was.  I realized that someone would have to have a full out bakery in their kitchen for the yeast smell to be so strong and with the chemical undertone I reprocessed the smell to ‘drying paint’.

This works in marketing the same way.  Your customers may react to a special deal “Two maintenances for the price of one”.  Was it the convenience of getting both done at once? Was it the savings? Was it the time of year?  What made this proposal work for you?

Try to take in as much information as possible and turn that new savvy into better and better marketing.

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