21 Mar 2014

Ask Not What You Can Do for Your Customer…

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What do the following brands do for their customers? How do they market themselves? The answer may surprise you:

  • The Walt Disney® Company
  • Harley-Davidson® Motor Company
  • Nike, Inc.
  • Make-A-Wish® Foundation

No, their marketing is not along the lines of “What can I do to get you in this car today.” Nor is it “What can I do to get you to visit my theme park, ride my motorcycles, wear my athletic gear, or be the charity of choice?”

Rather, these brands provide you with experiences. What they do is help you – their target market – become something. They transform customers into what the customer wants to become.

Take for example Disney. What does Disney provide their customers? For one of their target markets – little girls – they transform them into princesses. These little girls are swept away by pretty dresses, glass slippers, crowns, and princes.

Another example is Harley-Davidson (H-D). Its chief marketing officer (CMO) spoke at a conference several years back about its brand. The CMO described his job as helping business professionals, such as lawyers, accountants and executives, “terrorize” small towns. When riding Harleys, these white collar professionals feel like they’ve been transformed into appearing like “bad asses.” Per its Website, H-D’s purpose is to “fulfill dreams of personal freedom.”

Traditionally, H-D targets those with discretionary income … at least enough to spend on a bike, possibly some bike “bling,” and definitely some H-D clothing (after motorcycles and parts/accessories, general merchandise including clothing contributes nearly six percent of H-D’s 2013 revenue, signifying hard-core brand loyalists). When I first started riding with my husband, one of our friends –a fellow motorcyclist – once told me to look at the women who ride, from their makeup, to their jewelry, to their manicures. He said that although they were wearing leather and do rags, that I should “look” at who they really were to understand the brand experience Harley Davidson was providing them.

Nike is yet another example. “Just Do It” doesn’t mean “Just Buy It.” It means if you have a goal, don’t think about it. Do something; get started! It’s showing how each of us has an inner spirit of being an athlete, being in better shape, or being the best we can be in the sports we play. Or maybe it just means looking the part. “Inspiration and innovation for every athlete” is Nike’s mantra. Again, it’s the experience and how it makes you feel. After all, feeling the part oftentimes leads to “becoming” it.

While there are many non-profit organizations or “causes” competing for donations to help those in need, the Make-A-Wish Foundation grants “wishes” that make life better for kids with life-threatening medical conditions. They took their mission and passion for helping children in need and transform them into superheroes, princesses, or even movie monsters. The Foundation helps children feel “healthy,” “normal,” or “inspired to achieve their dreams” at a critical moment in their lives. Not only does this brand help children “become” their dreams, the Foundation also helps adults and volunteers experience this gift and be able to do something enormously good for someone else. To get immersed in their brand, all you have to do is see Batkid at work in San Francisco.

What other brands can you say do something so transformational? Most certainly, Apple is part of this elite club.

What do I personally want my customers to become? Being a catalyst for remarkable experiences, I help my clients discover and unlock their best and most unique customer attributes, helping them become and transform into the brand they want to be. My customers can then help their customers transform into what they want to become.

In summary, ask not what you can do for your customer… ask what you can help them become.

So … what does your brand ask its customers to become?

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