How to give an audience what it wants when it wants two different things.

I recently had a prospective client pose a question to me that was inspired by an article he read about Facebook. In summary Facebook has found that every user has two distinct taste profiles: what they like, and what they say they like. He posed it to me because we provide a “Marketing Bootcamp” program for companies to expedite solving marketing challenges in a one day immersion which includes a focus group with customers.

His specific question was this:“I read this article back in February and just ran across it again. You came to mind. So here’s my question: This article is focused on Facebook newsfeed algorithms aligned with aspirational self vs. behavioral self. I tend to believe the marketing buzz that it not what a customer says, it’s what they do. Do you agree with this behavioral statement and how do modern day focus groups (e.g. marketing bootcamp) provide meaningful insight?”

 Here is my answer: John, this is a fascinating subject. I appreciate your question because it reveals the enormous value of a Marketing Bootcamp and where we can add value. The psychology behind what we, as people, say we like and what we do has to do with perceptions that we want people to have of us. When “we” put ourselves out in public (Facebook for example) we want people to see a certain personae that may or may not be the REAL deal. It stems from our innate fear of being discounted (EGO). So in a public setting — form, survey, poll, or Facebook feed, we may say we love to read news articles but our behavior can pretty quickly reveal if it is or is not the truth. In a focus group setting, a sense of trust is established before anyone reveals an opinion of substance so once we delve into meaty subject matter they feel safe revealing truths and biases about their preferences. I maintain that the only really meaningful insights you get are gleaned by talking face-to-face with your customers in a safe environment. You then marry those insights with behavior data (sales information) to make informed business decisions.

My net take-away from the article you shared:We’d be wise to infuse our marketing (messages) with the article’s suggestion of serving both the aspirational desires of our customers with their behavioral truths.

An example: Customers say they love to have grey cabinets (aspiration to be trendy) but they pick white because its safe…their fear stands in the way.

SO, we share with them confidence about both choices thereby giving them what they actually want and what they say they want.

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