Lesson Learned

“What Matters” is What Matters

Too much talk of “social media”, “influencer marketing”, storytelling etc etc. All things that are not new. They have all been key to good marketing for literally thousands of years, they are all important considerations for a marketing plan and but they are certainly not new ideas. Like most people marketers are very suseptible to fads and fashion. The marketing media ( yes just like this publication ) need to keep selling “news” and so they like to make things seem amazing breakthroughs. Using modern mediums, and thinking through tactics is important BUT to be effective over time marketers need to focus on building a strategy that will mean something to the people you want to convert and reconvert and reconvert to consumption.

And that means understanding WHAT REALLY MATTERS TO PEOPLE ( and not just to people as they are consumers I.e. consumers … see Lessons Learned no. 1 )

More specifically what matters to the people you want to consume your brand/product/service. What matters to them as people? What matters that makes your category important to them? What matters about your offering that might differentiate it from their other choices ( and there are always multiple choices ) ? What matters about their media choices?
The problem is that too many marketers forget their real role : “ to find out what matters to people and then decide how their product/service can meet that need, desire, fear, hope ”. Everything else like price, distribution, media selection, promotion, use of celebrity or influencer are just tactics. Yes tactics that also rely on knowing “what matters” to those people.
I learnt the lesson while doing research in to infant milk products, first in Thailand and later in China, Indonesia and Taiwan. A big multi-national company asked the advertising agency I led to come up with a new campaign to get “good mums” to buy their brand. I asked the obvious … “ how do you define ‘good mums’ ?”.
The client’s response was “well any mum is a good mum”. Obviously not true. Not all mums are good mums. Some make many mistakes, some don’t try hard enough, some just don’t want to be mums. And how do you define a good mum? Do mums have different definitions? What matters to mums that help them define they are doing a good job?


1. A mum who sacrifices absolutely everything and cuts back on everything else to afford only the best products for her child
2. A mum who studies every possible piece of information available (asks friends, studies the pack information, reads anything available off-line or on-line) to make a choice
3. A mum who checks what other mums do and buys what she sees them buying
Then we asked the 1,000 mums to choose which definition they liked and wanted to be and which one they thought they really were. Over 90% said they wished they were no 1 or no 2 but in reality 70% told us they were no 3. The first to types of good mum are ideals. Admirable but for most just too difficult. For most mums across all the countries I did this research in it was just too risky not to buy the brands they saw in other mums shopping baskets. What mattered was to follow the popular brands that provided the security that other mothers would not question their judgement. And therefore they would be seen as good mums.
So what? Well that led to some basic decisions like making sure we “planted” the clients brand in shopping baskets at stores so mums would see others were buying it. It meant getting word of mouth campaigns started. Yes using Facebook would be an option today but also maybe just good old fashioned tactics like having influencer mothers talk about it and/or giving samples to mums to give to friends. The tactics of course will change depending on “what matters” to the mums you are targeting. More in the next lesson.

LESSON 2 : there is no more important question you can ask yourself, again and again, than “what matters to the people I want to reach?”

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