The World’s Best Marketer

Charles Revson, founder of Revlon, observed he didn’t sell cosmetics, but hope.

Then I found myself debating who’s the world’s greatest marketer.

Apple sells lifestyle. Coke sells refreshment. Facebook sells community.

My vote went to Victoria’s Secret, selling fantasy.

True, they’re dealing with some issues at the moment. Swimsuits and apparel are being discontinued, as is the company’s catalog as it gears up for the next generation.

Yet looking through their user-friendly web site, the reader is overwhelmed with sensuous photographs and minimal copy, leaving the imagination to run wild.

And where does the imagination take us? Photos of sexy women prancing about in their underwear encourage customers to say to themselves “If I wear those clothes I’ll look like THAT!”

And men (VS’s original audience) react similarly, saying “If I buy that for my woman she’ll look like THAT!”

Unlike Playboy, this is accessible fantasy. Still, it’s not until the UPS truck pulls away that reality hits: the woman at home is still the same person she was before.

You probably don’t need to persuade customers that buying from you will transform them into a supermodel.

However, you do need to convince them you’re the best thing around, and that means getting inside a customer’s head to motivate a purchase.

A few thoughts on how to start:

  • Don’t spend time talking about yourself. Your customer cares primarily about WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?)
  • Know your customer. Age, gender, race, education…everything.
  • Assume you’re the customer, asking why you’d buy whatever’s being sold.
  • Go through the buying process as the customer. Is everything user-friendly?
  • Talk with customers to determine weak points about your company…then fix them.
  • Show customers planned marketing materials and get feedback. After all, merely because you like it doesn’t mean it will sell.

Any entrepreneur can attest that having good ideas isn’t enough. You need financing, strategy, personnel, suppliers, quality control, fulfillment, and customers.

Those customers need marketing materials to catch their interest and a sales process capable of closing the deal.

And, not surprisingly, the profits from that sale feed future financing, starting the process over again. More ideas, more customers, more sales.

But if you believe those sales happen merely because you will it, you’re fantasizing as much as Victoria’s Secret’s customers.

With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.


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