Marketing and advertising turn words and pictures into messages and images that can influence a consumer's decision. Though that is easily explained, the actual process is more difficult. Being in an industry that can mold and influence human behavior is a very big deal, and should be taken seriously.
Yet where do these creators get their ideas?
We did an article a while ago about where creative thinkers and famous writers got their ideas. Many of them, it turned out, got their ideas away from their desks, away from their offices, while either simply enjoying life, taking a walk, painting, or observing people.
We want to hone in on the latter. Whether we like it or not, advertising is a people business. Not so much a "people business" in the schmoozing sense (though AdLand is a very small world), but that to be successful we do need to have a solid grasp on people. What people are thinking, feeling, experiencing, loving, hating, watching, reading, and downloading is very important to us.
We need to be where the people are.
When we started our venture into marketing education, we were thrilled with the conversations we would be having with our high school population. Though this generation still generates very little in terms of purchasing power in comparison to the Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y, this generation is shaping the latest and greatest pop culture. These kids highlighted the rapid decline of Facebook. We had them do marketing campaigns, and several of them decided to use Facebook as a medium in order to get to moms and people over the age of 35.
Not a single one of them believes that SnapCash is a good idea. They all believe in free WiFi, mobile apps, and information. And the majority of them are scarily oblivious to their surroundings. Absolutely incredible to watch.
But we wouldn't know this firsthand without being with them.
The same goes for your target audiences. If you target women, how many of your brand managers or creatives spend time hanging out where they are? Seeing what they see, observing their behavior?
So much good research can be done, yet brands or agencies are under such time crunches sometimes that observing your market may be tough to do. How sad.
If you can, please experience what your customer is experiencing. Not just once, either. To be effective, it must be a regular effort. It is incredibly useful. If you are part of a brand or agency that demands you do this, kudos, because we guarantee that you're ahead of the game.
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.