If you want to effectively market your brand, you can do one of two things: you can dump money and time into research and development done by people with degrees and experience and all kinds of fancy titles, OR you can tap into your inner child.
While there will always be a place for people whose expertise is pinpointing what statistically should be a successful marketing campaign, marketing, when stripped down to its essence, is essentially offering a product/service that people will like by offering it to them in a manner they find appealing.
In a recent NY Times article, Christine Haughney highlights a recent toy testing session done in the same “testing rooms usually reserved for reviewing washing machines and vacuum cleaners.” (Incidentally, two items that are a must for any parent with children…) The children were given a variety of toys and asked to, well, play with them.
Throughout the session, children became attached to some toys, bored with others, and destroyed the rest. (Well, maybe the latter was just based on my experience but I digress.) The adults took notes while observing the children’s interactions with the toys. The children, meanwhile, played. They could not have cared less about “target audiences,” “product placement,” “profitability” or any other marketing/business terms. The children cared about what children care about: Having fun and enjoying themselves. (And hitting each other, as one set of brothers did.) The toys deemed winners were given the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.
In other places where a product is tested, the adults take notes to plug into formulas to turn into numbers that will eventually be fed into a computer that should, in turn, spit out data that will, hopefully, tell the marketers whether or not the product was worth your time and money or not. As I said before, this process is necessary and it’s the modern approach to making a buck— especially with millions/billions riding on the public’s acceptance of said product/service. But this approach becomes a sterile environment where numbers take the place of emotion and genuine interaction. People are replaced by percentages.
Too frequently in business, we lose sight of that proverbial forest because we’re too busy focusing on the individual trees. Business (like marketing), at its bare bones, is a simple concept: Offer something others want at a price they will pay. Over the course of our professional lives we become too concerned with , demographics, ROI, and whatever other jargon exists out there. Sometimes it pays to be child-like and simply focus on what’s important: Is what I have worth your time and money? Don’t let worrying too much about what the numbers tell you siphon off the enjoyment of creating something that others will like; a little immaturity can lead to making mature decisions. Plus, it’s more cost-effective. (And more fun.)
Now if you’ll excuse me, these hungry hippos ain’t gonna feed themselves.