Smart marketers know that the surest way to get people to buy products or act in another way is to tap into their subconscious desires, their hot buttons.
The trouble is that subconscious desires are hidden. Researchers design long questionnaires to manipulate people into revealing them. Psychiatrists spend years trying to find out what’s deep inside their patients’ minds.
Customers as characters
More succesful at plumbing these depths are the fiction writers and actors whose characters I get to know so well. Take the examples of Patty and Walter Berglund in the latest Jonathan Franzen novel Freedom or Gabby Sidibe’s award-winning performance in the movie Precious.
Although they’re fictional, I felt I got farther into their heads than I do with many of the real people in my life. While I’m no novelist or actor, I’ve dabbled enough in both to see the potential of imagining myself in someone else’s shoes. I’ve been trying to apply this imagining to a hypothetical person who might buy my book, Write like you talk–only better. Hmmmmmmm.
Let’s start with the basic instinctual needs. The book can’t be eaten or shagged, but faster writing could help free up time for these drives. Moreover, it could help him acquire one of the skills, comunication, so important to succeeding in our world. In turn, this would lead to more respect from his colleagues and a higher level of attractiveness to potential mates.
What about fear? Being able to write clearly and persuasively could be a hedge, though not an abolute defence, against job loss. The success it could bring might also ward off the fear of his dad thinking he’s a loser. Ouch.
Then there’s pleasure. Just like driving a car or playing the piano became fun once I gained enough competence, so too could all the writing he’s expected to do, not only at work, but also with all that texting and social media after hours.
You see where I’m going? Like a novel or actor, I have imagined my character. I can probe deeper, but I don’t want to bore you with my concerns. What I want is to encourage you to try imagiining your customers too.
Novelists and actors often cite the importance of relating to the feelings deep inside themselves or in people they know very well. This can also help with your customer.
You have had many of the same reactions. Just as my customer often feels overwhelmed by all the writing he’s expected to do, I know all too well that feeling that I’m never going to get through the bottomless stack of work, the endless laundry or the life arrows that keep hitting me.
I also know many people like him, smart and articulate in conversation, but far less effective at transferring their great ideas into written words.
So take some time to imagine your customer. Think about what makes her tick. Think about feelings you share as well as close friends and family like her.
While market research and psychographics can help too, imagination and empathy are keys you already hold in your hands. So go unlock the vault of your customer’s subconscious.