Adam T. Sutton

Lessons from Marketing Love

January 16th, 2009
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I’ve heard of marketers doing strange and wonderful things, but this weekend’s episode of This American Life on Chicago Public Radio described, by far, the strangest marketing campaign I’ve ever encountered.

The episode, called “Numbers,” described people’s attempts to quantify the unquantifiable, such as emotions. The fourth segment described marketer Will Powers’ efforts to better market himself to his wife (Powers’ boss at Brand Solutions thought the task would teach him the principals of brand loyalty)

Powers and his wife had dated since they were 15. And, as too many marketers say of their customers, he said “There’s nothing that she’s going to tell me that I don’t know. I know her inside and out.” But he was wrong.

Powers held a focus-group-like session with his wife, asking her what attributes she felt were important to “the product,” her husband. She came up with terms such as: honest, funny, forgiving, strong, patient, loving and a few others.

These are great attributes, but tell me how I can act upon these,” Powers told his wife. “How can I, as an organization, providing this service, please you?”

His wife mentioned a few examples, such as holding her hand, making her laugh, and hanging up his clothes after coming home from a business trip instead of tossing them somewhere.

Powers focused on the clothes example. He asked his wife how she felt when he put away his clothes properly.

“She said ‘For me, that confirms teamwork, that we’re in a partnership in this relationship,’” he said in the interview. He further implored: how does that make you feel?

His wife’s response: “That we have a strong relationship…it makes her feel that she can rely on me.”

And what do you get when you have a strong relationship? How does that make you feel?

“That is total love and total reassurance,” Powers said of his wife’s reply.

“So I went form something as simple as picking up clothes from my garment bag when I come home on a business trip–very functional–to total love and strength.”

Powers now knew small ways to make his wife feel loved and strong. The same exercise can teach you about your customers and how to make them (almost) as happy. Don’t assume that you know everything about them.

“[My wife] is the number one customer in my organization, and I have to make sure that she’s 100% satisfied and happy with the product.”

Adam T. Sutton

About Adam T. Sutton

Adam T. Sutton, Senior Reporter, MarketingSherpa
Adam generates content for MarketingSherpa's Email and Inbound Marketing newsletters. His years of experience in interviewing marketers and conveying their insights has spanned topics such as search marketing, social media marketing, ecommerce, email and more. Adam previously powered the content behind MarketingSherpa's Search and Consumer-marketing newsletters and carries that experience into his new role. Today, in addition to writing articles, he contributes content to the MarketingExperiments and MarketingSherpa blogs, as well as MECLABS webinars, workshops and summits.

Prior to joining MarketingSherpa, Adam was the Managing Editor at the Mequoda group. There he created content and promotions for the company's daily email newsletter and managed its schedule.

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  1. January 19th, 2009 at 16:35 | #1

    I was accompanying my late wife* at the supermarket, obediently pushing a cart in her wake as she trolled the aisles.
    When I grumbled a bit about time and hassle, she said “think of shopping as foreplay.” I’ve been a much better shopper ever since.

    *Sally passed away last year of cancer

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