Mar 29th, 2007
One of the things I think a lot about is product or company messaging. I try to look at all the facets of a product or service, analyze the intended audience and then figure out the most effective messages. If I do this job well, the message will strike a chord and the product or company will be on its way. If we’re off, then it’s back to the drawing board until we get it right. Sometimes it involves product design changes, or adding features based on feedback.
I was recently reminded of how important it is to understand what the customer cares about when I went scooter shopping with my oldest daughter Jessica. She’s been home this week for spring break. After spending the last couple months without a wheeled form of transport, she decided that a scooter would be the ideal way to circumnavigate the University of Oregon campus and surrounding areas.
As life-long fan of anything with two wheels, I was all for it. Scooters are inexpensive, reliable, fun and environmentally friendly. What’s not to love. First stop was a Vespa store in Portland where Jessica spied a pink Buddy Scooter made by Genuine Scooter. While this little made-in-Taiwan 125 cc model was good enough, I figured I could do better.
The next stop was the local Yamaha/Honda dealer to look at what the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers had to offer in the way of scooters. There we found a blue Yamaha Vino for about the same money as the Buddy. Then we saw that the Schwinn bicycle company had gotten in the scooter business, and we could buy a handsome grey Schwinn for less money. Moreover, the Schwinn had a 150cc motor which would make the scooter more practical for occasional freeway trips. To me, this was a no-brainer.
Turns out it was also a no-brainer for Jessica. If there was a pink scooter available, then it was going to be a pink scooter going back to Eugene. Period. End of discussion. And indeed, the pink Buddy is now cheerfully lodged in our garage. While my priorities centered on performance and price, Jessica’s centered on style.
The moral of this tale to all you marketers and communicators out there: make sure you know what your intended buyers want and give it to them. Genuine Scooter company figured it out and secured our business over what could have been, in a number of ways, a superior offering. Do you really know your customers, or just think you do? It makes all the difference.