Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Marketers Learn From Online Chat

When I was in business school, and later when I worked at General Foods (now Kraft), one of the fundamental tenets of marketing we were taught is to focus on the end benefit for the consumer. As I built my career in marketing and advertising, that concept was always at the heart of any marketing message. While you can talk about the technical reasons a product works well, and you can show such things in a brief demonstration, the focus of any ad was on the product's benefit for the consumer. Benefits sell.

So I really had to laugh when I read an article in the Wall Street Journal that claimed big companies like IBM were surprised to learn from online chat between their customers that all the customers really cared about was what the product or service actually did for the customers - the end benefit. Gee, the customers didn't care about all the technical gee-wiz stuff that IBM executives cared about.

I must say that I was truly amazed that a company like IBM didn't already know this elementary rule of marketing and that they had to learn it from online chat. Where have they been? (Probably just talking to themselves in corporate speak.) What has their advertising agency been saying to them? Was anyone listening? At least they're listening to consumers now. Yay for online chat!

When I work with entrepreneurs to develop a business or marketing plan, the one thing I emphasize is focusing on the end benefit for the target consumer. That is the message that must be developed and must come across. You'll see this in my Ten Questions Your Business Plan Must Answer on my website:

If you want to read more about marketers learning from online chat, visit All Things Digital or the Wall Street Journal --
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