On Compartments

In her blog What's Your Brand Mantra?, Jennifer Rice comments on the Ad:Tech presentation given by Samsung Electronics' Peter Weedvald. She criticizes the company's approach to targeting its customers based on where they are — home, work, mobile — versus who they are.

Samsung can't forget that John is still John, regardless of where he may be. John doesn't become an unfeeling robot when he walks through the door of his office every morning and make decisions on facts alone. Think about who your customers are, regardless of what product they use during what hours of the day. Get out of the weeds of features/benefits and talk to them like the real people they are. Earn their trust. Be likable. If you sell 'business-world' and 'home-world' products or services, stop compartmentalizing: it's quite likely that the very same customers purchase both.

Rice's entry reminds me of Margaret Heffernan's recent Online Insights column, which addresses the same issue from a slightly different angle.

Of all the issues I've discussed with managers and employees around the world, the most painful and persistent is the acute conflict they sense between who they feel themselves to be on the inside and who they present on the outside. Steve does what many people do: compartmentalizes his life. He has a work self and what he thinks of as his true self, carefully locked away from each other.

They three pieces make interesting parallel reads. How can companies best target potential customers regardless of where they are? Do you bring your true self to work? Do you make work decisions differently than you do home decisions — regardless of whether they're purchase decisions? How compartmentalized is your approach to business — with yourself, as well as with others?

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  • hidden persuader

    "The customer never buys what you think you sell" said Peter Drucker. This reminds me of those brand managers that sell spicy crips but can't stand the smell of it. If you can't relate with your customer's experience, be one of them, then you're doing a lousy job by projecting your 'ideal-me' on your selling target. When I worked for BBDO Portugal as an account trainee I recall having a meeting with my boss, the creative supervisor and the strategic planner to discuss the 5th briefing coming back from a telecom client (domestic house wireline); the problem: despite all the rational economical benefits (better prices, better quality, better ..) the prospects weren't willing to try the service. I asked if any of them had already tried to get these service? Despite all the benefits the answer was a clear NO! So if you don't truly believe in something how can you be successful in trying to sell it to other people? I'm sorry but I'm one of those guys that believes a selling proposition should always start with us going through the prospect/costumer experience with the product or service.

  • Stephanie Quilao

    In Mr. Weedvald's presentation he says:
    "People don't buy TVs and cell phones, they buy a dream. They buy a consumer or business dream." I agree that consumers are not buying stuff, they are buying things to help them achieve a certain state of being. So, what about selling your stuff under the umbrellas of those dreams instead of the physical places where those dreams take place. For instance, people dream of financial freedom. What are your products and services that could help me, the consumer (whether at work or home) achieve financial freedom. I dream of marrying the love of my life, and making more friends. What do you have that would help me socialize? Help me, the buyer, add to my dreams by feeding me with wonderful ways of how your stuff will help me live my best life. When you focus on the dream, you give your business the ability to expand innovation and creativity because you are building around a powerful desire instead of a product placement.

  • Jennifer Rice

    Leads me to wonder how the differences between men and women play a part in this. From reading and personal experience, it seems that men have a better ability (and a natural tendency) to compartmentalize their lives, whereas women tend to be a bit more fluid. Hmm. Food for thought.