Good consumer marketing is like dating

Good consumer marketing is a lot like dating, according to Michael Johnson, CEO of brand strategy firm Finn Cady, who spoke at Petfood Forum 2021.

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Good consumer marketing is a lot like dating, according to Michael Johnson, CEO of brand strategy firm Finn Cady, who spoke at Petfood Forum 2021 in Kansas City on September 23.

“Since you can’t sell to everyone, your success depends on finding those that you can sell to,” Johnson said.

There are more than 80 million pet-owning households in the U.S., Johnson said, and companies can’t please them all because they’re all very different from each other.

“Sometimes in this industry we’re far too comfortable talking about them as if they’re all just one persona,” Johnson said. “At least 170 million Americans live in a house with a pet, and they are as different as people can be.”

But, he added, the things that most pet consumers have in common is that they are value-minded, short on time, low on trust, bombarded by products, confused by conflicting messaging, and they want auto-pilot solutions.

So, marketing to those consumers should be similar to dating in that it should be a one-to-one interaction.

“The goal of dating is to get someone to like you, to take a chance on you and to, hopefully, give you a second date. That’s exactly what we want when we’re trying to bring somebody into our brand, store or service,” Johnson said.

There are two different styles of marketing – or dating, he said. The first is “come find me” marketing, or the mass marketer consumer strategy, like “the guy who believes everyone wants to be with him.”

“This strategy works for some companies, especially those that have big, big budgets,” Johnson said.

The second style is “I’ll find you” marketing, where the company knows more about its target consumer’s needs and how to solve them.

“To a savvy marketer, if we have this information, how well could we please” that consumer? Johnson asked.

The keys to this strategy are:

  • Get to know your consumers personally
  • Understand their needs and solve them in a way that only you can
  • Engage them with some delight

More than half of consumers say they would pay more to be guaranteed a good experience, so it is important to delight them, Johnson said.

“Further, it works wonders with customer retention: It costs five times more to acquire a new customer than just to keep your old one,” he said, adding that a 5% increase in customer retention rates results in at least a 25% increase in profits, and 80% of revenue comes from the best 20% of customers.

Tips for bringing a product to market

Because the pool of potential customers is so vast, Johnson listed some keys to finding the right customer to target. When bringing a new product to market, he said companies should be able to answer these questions:

  • What issue do I solve or what job do I do for consumers that other products do not?
  • Which specific consumer will purchase my product? Why, where, when, how much, how often and at what price?
  • What are this specific consumer’s reasons to believe in my product and how do they expect to learn about my product?
  • How do I get consumers to permanently switch from a product like mine to my product? What is my unique competitive advantage?
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