Jump in your customer’s shoes today, and you can.

If you have a marketing role as an entrepreneur or a professional, you’d better be able to get in those customer shoes or you are in big trouble.

Today’s marketers of the most successful companies have a special skill.  Call it enterprising empathy—an astute ability to walk in the shoes of customers, see the world like they do, own their values and feel their most important needs, desires and pain.

This week, I’m in Aspen CO, a very elite mountain town and resort community. I’m staying at a several million dollar condo, surrounded by wealthy guests who sport everything from designer Prada garb, to Rolex bling, to Gap brand distressed jeans and no name flip flops. Nothing is inexpensive. There are masses of fit and attractive people every where and you experience an extreme attitude of quality and thoughtful service.

Businesses that do well here, even in the recent tough economic times understand the values of their market and know what makes them tick. They put on the Cole Haan and Jimmy Choo shoes, no matter how they personally see the world.

Is marketing to the affluent about entitlement, status, design, attention to detail? Or maybe a mix of all? Likely it depends on what they are selling to what affluent segment.

As a marketer or entrepreneur, especially if you are a successful one, it can be easy to put on the shoes that best represent and fit you. You are successful and affluent, you live a lux life, it’s a natural way to serve your customers the way you want to be treated.

But here’s the challenge, your customer or clients may be very different than you. They might be unemployed, have less disposable income, wouldn’t know great design, if it bit them in the butt or even be flat broke. They can also be older and have a very different set of values.

Yet many marketers and entrepreneurs try to push their values and preferences on their customers and wonder why sales are weak. DAAH!

Empathy is truly essential in effective marketing. Doing things just the way you like them can be the kiss of death, unless you are a mirror image of your customers, which often we are not.

On your next marketing challenge, try these strategies.

1) Loose all your beliefs
What matters is what your customer believes.

2) Don’t fall in love with your first idea.
First ideas often come from values you embrace.

3) Have an open mind to things that seem weird, stupid and crazy.
A Gen Yer views the planet, technology and TV advertising completely different than a 75-year old grandmother.

4) Shut up. Watch and listen to the target market.
Marketers tend to talk too much, often filling the heads of their research pools with their beliefs and then the market pool or research subjects will just agree with what you’ve thrown at them.  This will not produce gems of relevant marketing brilliance, but more of what you like.

When creating marketing plans for clients or your own business, think about what the buyer really wants and will respond to.  A Walmart fan may not even know who Frette is and most senior citizens are not digitally dominated. And don’t forget the importance of gender wiring. There is a huge gap in how women want their info and what men think and don’t think about.

For the most effective marketing ideas, jump into the buyers’ shoes. Leave your boots, heals and running shoes at home for your personal journey.

Enhanced by Zemanta