As I often say in my seminars, the best courses in marketing that I’ve ever taken have not been purely marketing-oriented. Instead, they have been courses in the social sciences like sociology, psychology, and cultural anthropology. Marketing is foremost about understanding the human decision-making process and how to influence it.
One of the key elements that a prospect looks for in your offering is its compatibility with their sense of self-identity. As I’ve stated in a previous example: Your 16 year old son may like nothing better than to be seen cruising the strip in a snazzy red sports convertible. But if the only thing available is mom’s mini-van he will feel a conflict between the available product and his sense of identity (apparently the chicks don’t dig guys cruising in mini-vans as much as sports cars).
The current social mix that takes advantage of your offering is a crucial flagging device for compatibility with the prospect’s self-identity, and will be a key element in order to attract them.
For example, ask yourself the following questions:
- If you walked into your favorite restaurant and everyone dining there was under the age of 14, what would you think?
- If you walked into your favorite restaurant and everyone dining there was over the age of 92, what would you think?
In both situations (presuming you’re not under 14, or over the age of 92), most people will typically experience a sense of incongruence with the marketplace’s participants.
People want to do business with companies that attract a similarly “perceived” clientele. That is why the mix at a sports bar will be different from that at an after work business crowd bar. The clientele that goes to these bars will be distinctly different from each other… if only in mindset for an evening.
There will be many different types of categorizations for “who’s the crowd doing business at [FILL IN THE BLANK]”: demographics, lifestyle, occupation, etc. The important thing to remember though is that people typically find this an important consideration when choosing a medium to high involvement product or service.
- If you are a dentist with a large part of your practice devoted to children, tell people that.
- If you are a physician with a large part of your practice devoted to young working class families, tell people that.
- If you are producing widgets that are being predominantly bought by polka-dotted Bohemites from East Bohemia (a large, untapped, lucrative market), tell people that.
Recognize your marketplace’s need to identify with a particular social mix, and announce that patronage in your branding.