The challenge in a world where virtually everyone has their basic needs satisfied is determining how an organization can stand out and be noticed. How does it get tagged as remarkable and indispensable by their customers?
Today people are looking beyond their basic needs and are looking for opportunities to feed their individual wants and desires.
They are driven to a higher level to seek happiness; basic needs satisfaction may give people a lift for a period of time but the lustre soon fades (a new SUV soon becomes a used car).
As marketers, if we continue to focus on what people need we will miss the opportunities that lead to market leadership and enhanced profitability.
The source of this huge untapped potential is the secrets hidden in the deepest nooks and crannies of every individual that define who they are and how they want to express themselves.
A secret is an innermost desire that someone has: something a person craves, covets, aches for, hungers for, itches for, yearns for and longs for.
A secret has little to do with a need and tends to be experience-based. I need food and clothing; I crave a pasta meal at Trattoria in Whistler served with a bottle of La Volte and I itch for a 3-week Maui vacation with my family at a five star resort.
Exactly how does one gather secrets?
People divulge their secrets only to others they trust, have confidence in, and have a strong relationship with. If you are an outsider, they won't tell you anything (other than perhaps what they need) and you won't discover the gold that will enable you to have a profitable long-term relationship with them.
So, focus on relationship building with people you choose to serve. And don't expect results overnight. It's a long term investment; you can't earn someone's trust in a 60-minute interaction with them.
Here are the things that worked for me as a secret gatherer:
- Commit to meeting with customers every week as a personal priority. You can't discover secrets from your office.
- Meet face to face and keep the process informal. Have a conversation with the person rather than a formal market research interview.
- Don't sell. The objective is to build the relationship by getting to know the other person better. It is not about you and the potential sales opportunity sitting across from you.
- Avoid prying into personal matters unless it is a natural lead-in based on the conversation you are having. After the ice-breaker question, be guided by what they say. Secret gathering isn't about encroaching in someone's personal space. Follow their lead by what they are willing to offer.
- Take notes – lots of notes. Taking notes is demonstrated evidence that you are interested.
The me world is here.
Marketers must get under people's skin to make a difference.