Monday, February 18, 2008

Strategic Planning - Do you think like your customers?

Yesterday, someone brought to my attention a video of an ad that airs on late-night TV for an auto insurance company in Washington State. On the surface, it’s not a slick ad. Many insurance agents would immediately poo-poo it as unprofessional, cheap and sleazy-looking. Frankly, it would hurt to be responsible for this ad.

So why do I like it?

I like this ad because it works – and it works for a reason that bears thinking about in your strategic planning. The ad is for insurance for people who are pretty bad risks. It’s a group I would want to insure myself, but then someone has to. Here’s what I think makes this ad work: the people who see this ad, folks who are, perhaps, watching cheesy re-runs at 2 a.m., are not, for the most part, “professional”. They see an ad that shows someone pulling up to a McMansion in a BMW and immediately tune it out – because they know it’s not for them. But this ad hits those same people hard because it is for them….it’s quick, funny in a cheesy way, and there are bits that will appeal strongly to the lowest common denominator.

Obviously, there are things I do not like about this ad campaign. For one thing, there are nasty sexist bits in there that I wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. But, at the end of the day, Vern Fonk keeps running these spots because they get business in a cost-effective way. And that means the spots probably work - even though most marketing folks would hate to have produced them.

So…in your strategic planning, I’d like you to ask yourselves: are we approaching our market thinking they will behave just like we do? How would our customers make different choices? What can we do to find out what really works, if we don’t really think as our customers do?


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