If someone asked me to make banana bread without bananas, I can tell you right now, it’s not going to taste like banana bread.
Equally, if someone asked me to put together a short film for a brand, or set some creative direction in place for a new range and I wasn’t given a very clear idea of who the customer is - I can tell you right now, the content and products being designed are going to be mediocre at best.
Let me tell you all something - there has always got to be a customer in the room. i.e. people within businesses and brands must have a very clear idea of who it is they are making things for.
I often ask key members of staff within brands a very simple question, before I do anything: who buys your stuff?
You would be amazed how much the answers vary, the age ranges they give for starters often covers an average of three decades, this is fucking bananas! I'm not kidding, let me give you an example, think 25 - 45 year olds (think generally):
A 25 year old is most likely single, just out of university, thinking about what he wants to do with his life, burning cash at rad bars over the weekend. He has probably never thought about his net worth, is buying meal deals at the Boots across the street and most likely commutes using public transport or has a pretty crappy car parked on a side street that he rarely drives (with leaves on it). Whilst the 45 year old has been married for around 15 years, has a couple kids and is well respected in his career, thinks about his investments on a Sunday morning, is shopping at M&S and Waitrose on the weekends and most likely drives a nice estate with roof racks that he likes to wash on his day off.
The point - these two guys couldn't be more different in terms of where they are in their lives. Trying to market and build products with them both in mind is nuts!
If you are a business or are running a brand, with employees on big payrolls, huge design and manufacturing meetings going down, large levels of funding getting injected annually and you don't really have a clear idea of who you're doing it for - it's going to be super tough getting things going.
Another bonkers response I often hear, comes in the form of the first three letters of the alphabet, followed by the number 1 at the end of it: ABC1. What the hell does this even mean? If you actually break down ABC1, they are completely different customer segments, so broad, I mean if you told a creative or product designer to produce something for ABC1 - you are basically asking them to make something for someone who drinks Grey Goose on a Saturday night, flies Emirates, wears a Prada handbag grocery shopping at Tescos, whilst at the same time, drives a banged out cleo, works at McDonald’s and can often be caught wearing a SuperDry jacket at a family barbecue. Good luck with that - bananas I tell you!
Brands have got to know who buys their stuff and what I mean buy this is - you have got to know the person who is highly engaged with your brand, the person who is buying more than 3x a year and you need to know them well. You need to know where they shop if they don’t shop from you, you need to know what activities they enjoy, you need to know where they actually live and you need to narrow the age range to 5 years. You have to fully commit to understanding them, their aspirations, the products they love, the ones they don’t and you need to build a business around these customers - put simply - talk to them (market) and make for them (product/service).
I am telling you now, knowing your customer is the next battleground for brands - period.
There has been so much noise over the last decade around storytelling and creative chat, social and tech, that people/brands have forgotten the most important part of it all - who are you doing it for?
Some ideas for you:
1) Pump the breaks, stop racing around doing things without knowing who's buying your stuff - otherwise what you put out is going to taste far from banana bread.
2) Finding out who your customers are is actually nowhere near as arduous and tough as you think it is. The process is clean, it’s incredible and you get closer to your customers, you become more relevant, you do things with them in mind, you give your brand a focus.
3) Stop asking creatives and designers and people within your business to produce great things when you're only giving them half the ingredients. Do the work, understand better the people who drive your business and then set everyone within your brand to build incredible things for them, get teams inspired again!
4) If you have any questions on how to get started - text me on 07909781921 and we’ll arrange a time to talk, or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org I’m not kidding, this is not an infomercial - just super pumped on getting brands closer to their customers.
Who buys your stuff? Ernest