I really love eating out at restaurants, tasting the wonderful richness of a Pad Thai dish, the mouth-wateringly subtle mix of flavors in a Japanese Yam Tempura Roll, or the oh-so-addictive Singapore Cashew Curry noodle box.
I am truly a Foodie.
But when I start to think about why I choose to go out for a noodle box on a particular day, I find that I am not really going out to buy a noodle box, even if I am addicted to the Singapore Cashew Curry. No, when I dig down and be truthful with myself, it is for another, quite surprising reason that I choose a noodle box. It is because I can trust that it will be just what I remembered it was last time. I choose a Singapore Cashew Curry noodle box as my lunch because I need to take care of myself and I can trust it to consistently please me. My choice is not the kind of food I want for taste reasons, but how I want to feel that day – in this example I need to nurture myself.
And I didn’t even think about this until now. 2 years of Singapore Cashew Curry noodle boxes. Not one thought about the real why in all that time.
Which leads to my Marketing Manifesto Principle #3:
A Marketing Manifesto
10 principles and practices of great marketing:
#3: People don’t really know why they are buying what they are buying.
Most purchases are determined by completely hidden subconscious reasons.
People think they are making a particular purchase for conscious, logical reasons. Not so. These reasons can often be quite illogical to the rational mind, and they are almost always different than the conscious reasons.
As a marketer, figuring out the subconscious factors is absolutely necessary if you are to accurately and consistently deliver what the customer really wants – even if the customer, themself, doesn’t know what they want on a conscious level.
Unfortunately, figuring out these subconscious factors is a challenge because regular surveys, focus groups, and even direct feedback can give you what the customer consciously thinks are the reasons they are buying the product – but most often not the real, underlying reasons.
And pushing to get a the underlying reasons is not usually a good idea: People don’t like talking about things at a deeper level – doing so generates all kinds of uncomfortable emotions.
Oh, and the subconscious reasons can all be grouped under two headings: Fear and Love. (surprise, surprise!)
We are programmed in our first 7 years of life with a comprehensive set of rules, beliefs, instructions, and lessons. These 7 years form the foundation for everything else that happens in the rest of your life.
Being an adult right now in history requires programming that is different than that which you gained in the first 7 years. But you are still playing by those childhood rules, largely without even knowing what they are!
And much or most of that programming is based on fear. “Touch that stove and you will get burned!!”
That same subconscious childhood programming makes people buy things for reasons of deep love. For example, many people absolutely love a barbecue. Just the smell of cooking meat on a grill brings a happy smile, excitement, and even a warm feeling of love. Why? because as children, these people had some of their fondest family events centered around a barbecue. For them, a barbecue represents family love, not food.
“OK, so how can we figure out the real reasons people choose to purchase what they purchase?”
I thought you would never ask.
This is my most favorite part! Now we get to do what I consider REAL marketing: Unraveling the mysteries of the human mind and spirit.
(“Oh, boy, oh boy, oh boy!!”)
To start, you have to have develop in yourself a few attitudes and skills. Like never being satisfied with anything that doesn’t feel like absolute truth. And never settling for a simple, logical, unemotional reason. And nurturing the determination of the world’s best detective. And practicing the listening skills of the most sensitive deer in the forest. And fostering the observation skills of the finest eagle, circling a thousand feet up but able to see the tiniest movement of a mouse on the ground. And cultivating a fearless openness to learning things you didn’t know before that challenge your beliefs and values.
Yes all these, and you have to be really hungry for truth.
Then you will figure out why you yourself really buy things.
And from there you will begin to see why other people really buy things.
The world will never be the same for you.
Using your newly developed attitudes and skills, the tools fall into your experience easily and quickly. You observe behavior that doesn’t match with words and you immediately try to figure out the source of the behavior (words come from the conscious mind, subtle behavior from the subconscious). You pick up books you would never have read before and suddenly they have clues and insights of use. You begin to ask new questions that dig deeper and farther than you could have imagined.
For you are learning that marketing is a practice, not a set of knowledge. It is an arcane and intuitive mix of left and right brain thinking.
And you gain new marketing heros, like Clotaire Rapaille, author of ” The Culture Code – An ingenious way to understand why people around the world live and buy as they do. “. Clotaire has the directness and audacity only a Frenchman could have to dig subconscious truth out of people by literally hypnotizing them to do it.
Or behaviorist’s old friend Abraham Maslow, for his so very simple by so very useful “Hierarchy of Needs” model. Sometimes “pooh-poohed” by academics, this model continues to deliver truth, even if those who consider it don’t like what the model implies for them personally.
Or education’s Neil Postman, for his bravery in challenging what the subconscious really learns in those formative young years in school, in his book “Teaching as a Subversive Activity“. Seldom has such a heretic dared challenge the pious sanctity of the school system in a manner that delivers hugely uncomfortable truths…and breathtaking clarity.
Welcome out of the Matrix
Want to be a great marketer? Get yourself out of the Matrix – find out what is really going on under the conscious surface of human behavior.
Uncomfortable the journey will be at times, but also very exciting as the insights and truths about “where it all comes from” begin to pour into your experience…