It’s often said that you can use certain sales messages over and over because, let’s face it, our target audience is a marching army. Over and over, they revisit the same points in life… they discover the same needs and wants… we show them how to satisfy themselves… and the cycle just repeats.
It may be only half true.
For instance, while a lot about selling never changes — there are shades of expectations that can evolve quite a bit. Take today’s “lifestyle” cutbacks, thanks to the economy. What feels like ‘cutting back’ to today’s crowd is practically a step up in standards when you roll back nearly 30 years ago. On a more subtle level, that’s even true when you roll back just 10 years… or five years… or to a couple years ago.
The modern consumer expects more. In some ways, they also expect to work less hard to get it. This just goes to show you that the promises you’ll make in your pitches can’t remain static. They have to keep getting bigger. Or at least, sounding bigger.
Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, I can’t tell you. After all, innovations happen when everyone from big companies to mom-and-pop outfits are pushed to compete and over-deliver.
On the other hand, it can only go so far. There’s only so much luxury and accommodation we can sell before the expense of it breaks the system… or drains the consumer’s bank account and available lines of credit.
So what happens when no marketers can afford to offer more… and no customers can afford to pay for it?
Awhile back, the two mentors I mention most in these issues suggested a whole new consumer trend coming down the pipeline. After the wake-up call. After the bust. After the recovery.
The Boomers, they predicted, would sideline their ambition for a life of luxury and convenience… and start yearning for something a little beyond the material. When they said that, I sniffed the wine. I figured they’d just gone a little loopy. But now I’m wondering… could they be right?
Gene Schwartz once wrote, in his landmark book “Breakthrough Advertising,” that people’s superficial desires weren’t all that tough to spot.
But only the best marketers knew that all people share an even deeper, second “secret” desire.
It’s the desire not just for products, services or pitches we “like”… but a deeper desire for products and services that helps us flesh out our own ideas of who we are. Not to mention, who we could be. And maybe most important (to us) of all, who OTHER people think we are.
I’ve long said — and I’m not the first — that the deepest desire most prospects (aka people) share is the desire to be loved and respected. Or at least, respected.
In good times, when it feels like everyone is getting richer and living larger than the next guy, respect comes from living like a king. Piling up stuff. Earning luxuries. Getting pampered.
In tougher times, character starts to matter as much… or more. Austerity becomes honorable. Excess, an embarrassment. Security, prudence, sensibleness — those become the hot sellers.
We start rolling back to the fundamentals. Looking for answers. Or at least, looking for people who seem like they have the answers… and the substance to back them up. Credibility, always important, becomes even more so.
Could it be that this is where the Boomers — the biggest market in the history of capitalism and the driving force of most of over six decades of economic growth — are headed next?
Look, for instance, how many things have trended back toward fundamentals. Walk more, use glass not plastic, cook at home, eat natural, cut up your credit carts.
It might well be out of necessity. Yet even necessity has a way of wooing her bedfellows. By simplifying, we may very well find ourselves in a position to also rediscover the things that matter.
Is that why hype is dead? Is it why “relationship marketing” is the most powerful force, online? Is it why so many marketers love to talk about “brand,” not realizing that brands don’t matter until a consistent relationship of quality has been established?
Your guess is as good as mine.
But personally, I’m guessing yes.