Ah, little lad, you're starin' at my fingers. Would you like me to tell you the little story of Right Hand-Left Hand - the story of good and evil? Now watch and I'll show you the story of life. These fingers, dear hearts, is always a-warrin' and a-tuggin', one agin the other.
OK, Robert Mitchum's preacher in Night of the Hunter is flat-out one of the creepiest dudes ever on film. But he speaks a world of truth in the little exchange quoted above. It's the relationship between love and hate – but I want to chat about a love-hate relationship.
Several months ago I abandoned my Client & Project Profile that I use in the Discovery phase of a project with clients. I did much research (stealing good ideas when I found them) and rebuilt it from the ground up, expanding it from one page to five (although part of that expanse is so I won't have write so microscopically on the page). The new document greatly expands the questions about a client's target audience, because I think that understanding your audience as completely as possible paves the way for successful initiatives. A new question that I added was this:
What does your audience believe before you tell them anything?
Your audience does not come to you as a blank sheet of paper. There are things either about your or your brand/product – or even in their own experiences – that will color their perceptions in advance of whatever you do to reach them; which of course, should drive HOW you reach them. These preconceived notions are very important, as they can actually sabotage your efforts.
I'll give you a personal example. I have a big-time, serious love-hate relationship with Red Robin restaurants. I LOVE their A1 Peppercorn Burger (oh my!) – but I HATE their prices. Now I'm admittedly cheap, but $10 for a burger just seems wrong. While I'm eating I keep expecting the Miller High Life truck driver to walk through the door, load all of their Miller High Life on his dolly and wheel it back out to his truck as he tells them "Y'all must be crazy!"
See this is my baggage I bring to my interaction with this brand. No matter how much I talk-up their burger, I always do so with the caveat "but they're too expensive." And I now view all contact with this brand through the lens of this preconceived notion. And I've talked to a lot of people who say the exact same thing, lest you think I'm alone in this impression.
So to effectively reach their audience they should market with this in mind.
Instead they recently enacted the Red Royalty customer loyalty program that only draws my attention down to the H-A-T-E tattooed on the knuckles of my left hand.
How many overpriced burgers you think ya gotta buy before the hook a brother up with a freebie? 5? 6? 9? Au contraire, my friend. . . how about 12!!! Seriously dude? Yes, seriously. Once you're $120 in (not counting tax and tip 12 times) they'll bestow upon you a token of their appreciation. And they can too, because they offset the cost with the interest they've earned from your initial $120.
Do I sound sarcastic? Bitter? Cynical? You see, it's because I believe something about them before they told me anything about their new loyalty program. They built their program in a way that not only fails to fully tweak my preconceived positive notions about them, but it actually reinforces the negative ones.
And in the interest of full disclosure, they do also give you a discount on every purchase. See, now what was I complaining about. They're showing some love, huh? How much of a discount you figure they spot me? I won't even make you guess - it's 5%. Really. This essentially takes off about half of the tax on the bill.
A better idea would be to keep the 5% and just give me a free burger twice as often. A free burger after every six would make me feel like the Loyalty aspect of the program was going both ways. It would actually have me looking at the L-O-V-E on my right hand a whole lot closer, and a whole lot more frequently.
Can you see how important it is to know and really get inside the head of your audience? How would you answer the question: "What do they believe about you before you tell them anything?" How you answer that question is one of the first steps to reaching your audience in a way that will be meaningful to them.
I'm holding out hope for Red Robin though. I ate there yesterday (and it was SO yummy!), but only because I received a coupon in the mail for $3 off some bizarro foo-foo burger that I wouldn't eat with someone else's mouth (OK, maybe that's a bit extreme, but typing it made me smile). Printed smaller in the offer portion of the coupon were the words "or any other gourmet burger" - BINGO!
For yesterday at least, I can echo the rest of Mitchum's lead-in quote:
Ol' brother Left Hand. Left hand, he's a-fightin'. And it looks like LOVE's a goner. But wait a minute, wait a minute! Hot dog! LOVE's a winnin'? Yes, siree. It's LOVE that won, and ol' Left Hand HATE is down for the count