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Here's a great way to really find out what your prospects want

Here's a great way to really find out what your prospects want

June 04, 2009

I just heard a great story I wanted to share with you that really talks about how valuable it is to know your market.

We all know it's important to get to know your prospects and find out what your hungry fish REALLY want but let's be honest, how many of us really do it that well?

And I thought this was a great way to do it '

A marketer hired by a toothpaste company to develop a promotional campaign for them knew he had to find a hook he could use. But there dozens of brands all of whom promise the same thing so he decided he needed to find out why their customers choose their brand.

So instead of talking to the executives at the toothpaste company or reviewing the stats, he went to the grocery store. He hung out in the toothpaste aisle and with a tape-recorder in hand he asked customers why they bought the toothpaste they did.

When he met with the toothpaste executives, he got his tape recorder out and said, 'Before I tell you about the promotion I'm proposing I thought you might be interested to hear what your customers have to say about your product and why they buy from you.' After a few minutes of listening to the customers, he hit the 'stop' button and got set to deliver his pitch when an executive stopped him and said, 'let's listen to the tape some more.'

They listened for another 30 minutes.

Need a "manure stick" for your hair?

It's amazing to think that with all the marketing demographic information and data mining tools available to us that there's nothing more powerful than just talking with customers and prospects about a product.

If only these companies would have done the same thing '

  • Clairol introduced the "Mist Stick", a curling iron, into German only to find out that "mist" is slang for manure. Not too many people had use for the "manure stick."
  • When Gerber started selling baby food in Africa, they used the same packaging as in the US, with a beautiful Caucasian baby on the label. Later they learned that in Africa, companies prefer to put pictures on the label of what's inside, since most people can't read.
  • Remember this one? Pepsi's "Come alive with the Pepsi Generation" translated into "Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave", in Chinese.
  • The Coca-Cola name in China was first read as "Ke-kou-ke-la", meaning "Bite the wax tadpole" or "female horse stuffed with wax", depending on the dialect. Coke then researched 40,000 characters to find a phonetic equivalent "ko-kou-ko-le", translating into "happiness in the mouth."
  • Coors beer put its slogan, "Turn It Loose," into Spanish, where it read as "Suffer From Diarrhea."
  • Puffs tissues tried to introduce its product, only to learn that "Puff" in German is a colloquial term for a whorehouse.
  • Chicken magnate Frank Perdue's line, "It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken," sounds much more interesting in Spanish: "It takes a sexually stimulated man to make a chicken affectionate."

That's just for starters. There are many more examples I could have used. The best form of research hasn't changed: get out of the office and talk to your prospects and customers. Ask them why they buy from you? Or better yet, ask your prospects why they don't buy from you?

Oh, and be sure to try your slogan out on them. Who knows how it may be perceived ...

Always taking you from where you are to where you want to go,