Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Learning from a 10 year old


My 10 year old daughter Sophia and her mate Coco have an occasional retail business. They set up a table at the front of one of their houses and sell items to passers by. Anything from Easter eggs to old toys.

The learning curve has been steep. Early Saturday morning - lots of customers out exercising but not carrying cash. Late Sunday afternoon - No customers at all!

A week ago they hit upon the idea of setting up shop at the same time as an auction was being held next door to Coco’s house. They planned to break up a packet of biscuits and sell them individually.

They had finally hit the marketing sweet spot.

They had found a large group of people, with some cash, waiting around and keen to have a small diversion to take their minds of the stressful auction.

The biscuits were priced well – high enough to make a profit and low enough to be attractive to the auction goers.

All the girls had to do was tell the consumers that they were selling biscuits (not just playing make believe).

Marketers, whether 10 years old or 80 years old, are just people who need to sell something. So what did the 2 little girls do? What a lot of marketers do.

They rang a bell and screamed!

“We want to sell our biscuits!” “Hurry up and buy our biscuits!” “We want your money!”

I asked Sophia how this worked. ‘Not very well’, she admitted. “The people just ignored us”

What the girls were doing was not that different from most advertising campaigns ie. Talk about yourself, your product and your problems. Ignore the consumer’s needs, the consumer’s wants and the consumer’s desires.

The result is that consumers try to ignore the message and only a mega media spend will drive the message into their unwilling minds.

But there is a happy ending. Sophia and Coco were smart enough to realise a change of approach was needed. They simply smiled and spoke to each person as they passed. “Hello, would you like to have a yummy biscuit before you go to the auction?”

The auction goers loved it. Instead of being screamed at they were having their needs met: needs they didn’t even know they had! The need to have something to take their minds off the auction. And the need to helping cute, entrepreneurial kids.

Maybe we can all learn something from these 10 year olds.

Sophia and Coco’s 4 rules for advertising.

1. Don’t scream at, or annoy your consumer. (Bad creative and repetitive media schedules do this every night on TV)

2. Don’t tell your consumer about yourself, your product, your factory (9 out of 10 advertisers do this without even realising). Tell your consumer about THEM: how you, your product and your factory WILL HELP THEM.

3. Do be engaging, cute, pleasant, watchable, readable, listenable or appealing in some way. (Even the most rational ad has room for some sort of charm).

4. Do put familiar ideas together in surprising ways. Combining Biscuits and Home Auctions has never been done to my knowledge.

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