If it’s about the people, then talk to the people

Wow. Did I just get a kick in the face after reading Tweet, post and blog all you like but first talk by Tess Waddington. Essentially what Waddington is saying in the article is people are valuable. Their feelings, voices, opinions, and experiences are valuable to marketing and even more so to the producer of the product. Sure, you throw a marketing campaign in any direction and it’s sure to hit someone, but by talking to your targeted audience before and after your campaign you’ll likely go much further.

Learning about your consumer, and getting to know an individual could prove invaluable. In Waddington’s article, we fallow Tony (a small business owner) while he speaks with other small companies he sells to. Tony is amazed at much he learned about his consumers: their needs, wants, flaws, room for improvement, their sales, and popular products.

Sadly, says Waddington, most business owners and producers, “don’t think they need to listen to or understand consumers in order to develop strategy and be successful.”

The main purpose of this article is to explain that “the ultimate purpose of marketing is to get the producer to understand the needs of the consumer and for them to then adjust their strategy accordingly.”

As an aspiring marketing professional, this article opened my eyes. Up until I read Waddington’s article, I thought it was the marketing company/professionals job to know the consumer. It’s the job of the marketing professional to conduct the research, to know the wants of the consumer, and to know the needs of the consumer. But, Waddington believes it’s valuable for the producer of the product to know their consumer as well, even personally.

Spending time with consumers on a personal level, visiting their shops, seeing how they sell your product is something which is rare, says Waddington. “It’s a vision of marketing that could not be more simple, or more difficult, to achieve.”

I think it’s a great idea. To see first hand how a companies product is being sold in individual shops. I spend a little over five years working for Jewel-Osco, one of the largest food retail companies in the Midwest United States. And you bet your marketing brain I saw and met the CEO and CFO’s of Coca-Cola, Nabisco, Gatorade, and other large companies when they came into my store. Sure, I was just a little shop manager at the time, but I was smart enough to realize why they came for a visit.

They wanted to see how their products were being sold in my store. They’d stand in the isle and chat with consumers; mothers buying Gatorade by the case, students picking up cans upon cans of Coca-Cola, and kids crying for their Oreo cookies. Waddington is saying a real producer of products would stand, listen, watch, and question why these consumers buy what they buy. Then, and only then, could the producer truly know their consumer. And in knowing your consumer, a company can then build a successful campaign tailored to their specific consumers.