How Most Marketers are Like Donald Trump… and How To Fix It.

Have you noticed how Donald Trump speaks?

He’s the biggest, best, most likely to succeed, believe me! Notice the subject of most of his sentences? These quotes are from the transcript of his recent interview with the Washington Post.

“[Looks at the television again] Look at this. It’s all Trump all day long. That’s why their ratings are through the roof. I’d hate to say, Philip, if I wasn’t (sic) running, the television networks would be doing less than half the business.”
“I think I’m going to to do great in Ohio, we’re going to do great in Pennsylvania, I think I’m going to do great in Florida and I think I’m going to do great in states that some people aren’t even thinking about.”
“I had more than 14 million people that voted for me. And nobody gives us credit. There were 17 people in the race. I got more votes than anybody in the history of Republican politics. By millions. Don’t forget. How about if I had two people in the race? The number would’ve been twice as good. In other words, people with 2 million people. Because the Republican party increased.”

He’s like that bad joke. “Enough about me. What do you think about me?”

Now think about how most marketers conduct market research.

Isn’t it mostly all about the brand all the time?

I’ve completed hundreds of qualitative market research studies for dozens of different organizations. Many review the discussion guide and want to get to the “meat” more quickly. And by “meat” they mean asking respondents what they think of their brand, their packaging prototypes, their commercials. Those upfront minutes? Get through ’em as fast as possible.

In doing so, they jump over the promised land and the key to their success.

Brands that “get it” understand how to listen more effectively. Their marketers get curious about their consumers: what makes them tick? How do they see the world? What are their ambitions and what’s holding them back?

I love to listen for respondents’ stories.

Here’s where I start. What is the key conflict they face in the domain of life that the client’s product touches? What’s the consequence if they don’t resolve it satisfactorily or quickly? What does that consequence mean for them? (This becomes the consumer insight.)

Then I move to exploring what they envision as the ideal resolution of that conflict even if they don’t think it exists today. And I get curious about what that resolution means to them — what possibilities would it open? How would they feel if it were resolved successfully? (This becomes the brand’s promise and its mood/tone.)

Last, I investigate what work-arounds they’ve tried and how they’ve assessed those experiments. This allows me to learn about the criteria by which they judge all of the options available to them (or the brand’s reason-to-believe)

The antidote to Trump-ism in market research? Shut up about yourself already and listen.

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