One of the first rules of marketing is to understand as much as you can about who you’re trying to market to. The clearer picture you have of your target consumer, the better you can position your product to meet their needs.
In the case of commercial or social marketing, the target consumers are other people. But in personal marketing, the target is you. This difference has the potential to give you a huge advantage. While others must be content with grouping people into “market segments” with similar characteristics, you have the luxury of communicating to a demographic of only one person…a person you know very well!
Still, I think there are some important lessons in classic market research that can be applied to personal behavior change. When the “product” being promoted is a behavior change, such as in social marketing, understanding your consumer can’t be faked, spun or sold. You have to actually understand where they are coming from and what their priorities and concerns are so you can position your behavior change to actually respond to those needs. The exchange has to be a win/win, because ultimately they are the ones who must voluntarily perform the behavior.
Yet when we go to change our own behavior many of us adopt a strategy that looks something like, “I don’t like to do _______ (fill in the blank) but I know I should, so this time I’m going to have enough discipline and self will to really do it, even though I don’t want to.” A marketer would never approach you in this way because he knows the odds of success are too low. Instead, he would try to find out what does matter to you (or people like you), really, and then position the product or behavior change to deliver that benefit.
We’ll get into cost and benefit strategies in a later article, but for now we’re going to do some market research. In this article I’m going to both model how to do it and invite you to do a similar process for yourself.
TBYB! market research
In order for Take Back Your Brain! to be more successful, I need to make sure it keeps having more value for you. I could guess how to do that, but I don’t need to. Instead, I’m going to ask you. For example, it would be enormously helpful for me to know things like:
- What behaviors you are interesting in changing?
- What goals you would like to achieve?
- How do you think personal marketing might be able to help?
- Have you tried any of the techniques described in TBYB?
- If so, what has been your experience?
- If not, what do you think has prevented you from taking action?
- What else would you like me to know about you?
- What kinds of articles do you find most helpful?
- How do you think I could improve TBYB to better meet your needs?
You’ll find all of the questions above on my new Reader Survey. I invite you to participate in my market research right now by responding to any or all of the questions on that page. All answers are anonymous, so enter early and enter often! Seriously, if you think of something that would help you, I’d love to hear about it.
Your market research
Answering the questions for TBYB! above should have given you a good start on thinking about yourself, too, especially if you wrote them out (such as on my Reader Survey…hint!). You may find it helpful to continue thinking or writing about questions like:
- Who are you?
- What and who are important to you?
- What kinds of activities do you truly enjoy?
- What are your hopes and dreams? What are your worries and concerns?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- What kinds of things are easy and difficult for you to accomplish?
I suggest that you pursue questions like this until you feel you have evoked the answer to the one big important question a marketer really wants to know: what do you CARE about?
Your answers to the questions above will give you critically important clues about how to position the changes you seek in order to deliver benefits you care about. Many of them will remain true about you from project to project. However, each time you start an important new ad campaign you may also find it helpful to interview yourself in relation to that specific goal or behavior change. The more honest you can be with yourself about your real motivations, the more effective you’ll be able to make your ads.
Remember, marketers don’t guess, they research.