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Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for the rest of his life.
Money is pretty important because it helps provide economic circulation and pays for the things we need. And it’s the reason why we as marketers and businesspeople are, well, in business. But, the making of money isn’t our only motivation for marketing. It’s probably true that most businessmen and women, whether a realtor offering a new home or a fresh produce marketer offering improved nutrition, have a personal desire to create public value for the products and services they are advocating. While money may sometimes be the driving force, I like to think that most marketers genuinely want something better for consumers when we set out to convert them into our customers.
Sometimes, though, I think we forget that conversion is more than just convincing a person to exchange their hard-earned dollars for a few of our products. True conversion involves change – change from everyday consumer behaviors to consistent habits of loyal customers. And I’m convinced that the change we are hoping for is driven by education, an element that should be included in all our marketing strategies.
For many organizations, like those in the produce industry, the process of change among target audiences is not easily realized. We can tell people all day long that fruits and veggies are good for them or that they taste amazing. But, knowing about those benefits isn’t always enough to inspire repeat purchases.
Why doesn’t Consumer Joe turn into the ultimate fresh produce lover when we tell him about the countless benefits of fresh fruits and veggies? Well, any time anyone (like Consumer Joe) goes through a behavior change, like adopting new products, he visits certain points on a continuum in some form of the following stages:
|1. Increase of knowledge||Tomatoes can help prevent heart disease.|
|2. Change of attitude||I care that tomatoes can help prevent heart disease because I don’t want heart disease; I want to live a long, healthy life with my spouse and kids.|
|3. Development of new skills||Since I want to live a long, healthy life, I will pick up some tomatoes, which are in the produce department at my local grocery store.|
|4. Adoption of best practice||Now that I’ve been purchasing tomatoes for a while, I’ve learned how to choose the BEST tomatoes, which are those that smell sweet and aren’t too soft or too firm.|
|5. BEHAVIOR CHANGE||The best tomatoes, sweet and perfectly ripe, are often grown and sold by company [insert your company
name here], so I’m going to buy their tomatoes from now on!
Granted, there are some organizations with customers who have swiped their card at the register before ever thinking about their attitude, skills or best practices associated with their purchase (this isn’t always bad).TOMS shoes, for example, can somewhat overcome the process of change or skip it altogether simply by saying that for every pair of shoes you buy, they’ll donate a pair of shoes to someone in an underdeveloped country who’s walking around barefoot.
In this case, the general attitude about helping someone in need simply by purchasing a trendy item is pretty easy to recognize because the return on the purchase is seemingly instant (and pulls on the ol’ heartstrings). There is not much need for education here. I just bought myself a pair of shoes and, as a result, someone is no longer barefoot. Period.
In other cases, like with fresh produce (unfortunately), perhaps there is more need for education before consumers develop and acknowledge a positive attitude about buying that Cherimoya that looks like a scaly dinosaur egg. If only Consumer Joe knew about the velvety, sweet texture and nutritional benefits on the inside of that dinosaur egg!
Do you see where I’m going with this? We cannot just tell people that our products are worth their time and money. We must develop a relationship with our audiences; a relationship that cradles trust and credibility along with the transfer of knowledge that empowers our customers to make a lifetime of educated purchase decisions.
So What?: As we develop marketing strategies, it is vitally important for us to incorporate an element of education. We cannot give our audiences a lofty catch phrase, a passionate spiel, or even one taste of a melt-in-your-mouth meal and expect them to buy our products. We must educate our target audience on why our products make perfect sense in their lives.
Has there ever been a product that prompted you to seek more information? What is it? We wanna hear about it!
Posted by: The Visualizer (Kelly Pritchett)