It’s not great slogans or great products that turn people into lifelong customers.
Yes, you can rope someone in with an impulsive message or nifty doo-dad.
But the great companies deploy marketing campaigns that work at a deeper level.
The goal is to provide your audience with an overarching “organizing principle.”
It is a mistake to think of people as an unrelated string of transactions. What they are really doing with their purchasing decisions is creating a narrative around which they explain their life to themselves. Also known as IDENTITY.
Great marketing aids them in this process by having either, and/or the following and this is a short list:
- Philosophy – Apple is about beauty
- Principles – Whole Foods is about organic, sustainable something or other.
- Rules – Weight Watchers has a point system for losing weight.
- Identity – Nike is about just doing it.
- Exclusion – Rolls-Royce, because most of you can’t afford it.
Each of these concepts, and often several in combination, create an organizing principle for the customer to adhere to. It creates loyalty and often fierce defense to a company – because the organizing principle becomes part of the customer’s identity. That is why people wear branded gear, have bumper stickers and talk about their consumption.
In some circles this phenomena are known as “signifiers.” That’s kind of fancy for our purposes. The point is to give the customer something to believe in beside the cold product – your marketing should give them meaning. It doesn’t have to make sense but it does need to be communicated.
After all, a pair of sneakers is just a pair of sneakers. But when they are lacing them on in the early dawn to go out for a run, the customer is most assuredly playing the Nike marketing message in their head. They see themselves as starring in the commercial that conveys the organizing principle. This projection, wholly invented by the customer, becomes part of their IDENTITY – and because people think their IDENTITY is real, they will die clinging to it. While this is dramatic, let’s just say for our purpose they will continue to buy our products and services when we give them something that “real” to cling to.