24 Nov

Speaking to humans again

Is it me, or is there a shift – a sudden self-awareness – towards treating customers as humans again (or at least aiming marketing at them as if they’re humans)?

First, I saw this cracking post, all about how ‘advertising is not science’.

Then I saw this snippet, on Twitter, about the meteoric rise of both Aldi and Lidl (methinks you’ll have to click on it to view it properly – sorry) :


The gist of the comment is that Aldi and Lidl aren’t just seen as ‘discount brands’ anymore: customers simply like shopping there – having switched from another supermarket – because the food is decent, yet still reasonably priced.
The term ‘discounter’ doesn’t enter their minds – it’s just a term used in boardrooms and marketing meetings (and by rival supermarkets hoping to still smear Aldi and Lidl with the ‘cheap’ brush, to put people off shopping there). Your average shopper entering a store with a trolley, doesn’t think like that. They just think in terms of ‘decent value’ … ‘oooh, my weekly shop has gone down in price’ … ‘I like the food here’ … ‘why are the other places charging so much then?’

And this is how customers think – in broad strokes… because they’re humans, not robots or people who speak marketing lingo.

‘Customer journey’
‘Premium brand’
‘Leveraging value’

All of these things mean precisely f*** all to customers.

Likewise, reaching them via;

‘Quantitative research’
‘Qualitative research’
‘Big data’
‘Consumer insights’
‘Optimised content’
‘Seeded content’

… this also means bugger all.

You know why?

Because customers think in terms of;

‘This looks good’
‘This smells nice’
‘That tastes amazing’
‘Not bad for that price’
‘Phew – cost less than I thought’
‘Brilliant service’
‘I just feel like popping in here today’

It’s the way it’s always been, and it’s the way it always will be; no matter how advanced marketing speak gets, no matter the bizarre job titles that exist in agencies, no matter how technological the new advertising platforms become, no matter how targeted campaigns can be, no matter the technical proficiency of those using the aforementioned platforms, no matter the research that shows ‘this is how we should communicate with customers, for maximum sales leverage and repeat transactions’.

We’re still selling to humans… who use everyday language and make rational (or sometimes not) purchasing decisions based on a simple thought process: ‘I like it / I don’t like it’.

As rent-a-quote adman David Ogilvy said: ‘If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language.’


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