You're not the customer

And you're not likely to be the prospect either. In many ways, I always think that this is one of the toughest things we have to appreciate. Almost always whatever we're promoting or selling we'll be targeting it at someone different from ourselves.

As a creative director it's one of the skills we have to constantly remind ourselves of. To some extent this has been made much easier with the help of planners, because they can help fine-tune our understanding as to how a target market thinks and behaves.

Now I know for a great number of people this is something that they take as being standard practice. Many clients I've dealt with have been brilliant at this.

But as much as many of us may have developed our skills in looking at work through the eyes of the people it's aimed at, there are always others who will struggle.

In a strange way I've found that clients from larger organisations find it easier to disconnect themselves from the equation, not because larger companies are less personal, it's just that they're more likely to be less emotionally attached to the product and services they offer.

The real problem is when you're so personally involved that you find it almost impossible to detach your own personal feelings and keep them detached throughout the whole exercise.

Presently I'm helping a wine maker develop his brand, business and his marketing strategy. His wine is very special, not just organic but biodynamic, to say he's passionate about his product is putting it mildly. He firmly believes that the right branding is essential, but as an individual he doesn't buy brands, not only that, he doesn't buy wine. His target audience he recognises is totally alien to him and here's his greatest problem - disconnecting his personal feelings from the equation. To make matters worse, his friends and family are of little help either, because using the old adage 'birds of a feather flock together', they're just like him.

Of course we're not alone in having to deal with the issue of pretending to be someone we're not - actors do it all the time. Which is why I've found Sam Kogan's book (edited by his daughter Helen) The Science of Acting, quite insightful.

So when you're looking for a formula for success, you're more likely to find it by starting with this basic principle: understand the issues from your target markets point of view.

Hear more from Steve on the IDM's Absolute Essentials of Direct & Digital Marketing course

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