Small Business Marketing: Brilliant Lessons From The Movie, “What Women Want” The other night I was watching a DVD of Mel Gibson’s 2000 film, “What Women Want”, an entertaining enough ‘rom-com’, and it really resonated with a couple of things that information marketing guru Eben Pagan talked about recently. Now for those unfamiliar with the film’s plot, basically a sexist guy (Mel) working in advertising in Chicago kind of semi-electrocutes himself and suddenly has the power to hear what women are thinking. As a result, he can then use his marketing messages to directly ‘tap into’ the thoughts of women. Now I worked for a long time as a creative director in advertising in the past on accounts like IBM, Pepsi, Cadbury’s and Kellogg’s, so I’ll skip over the irrelevant comparisons with real-life advertising agencies. But what WAS fascinating in the movie and VERY valuable to us marketers were certain brilliantly clarifying lessons: Firstly, the film reminds us that customers’ buying behaviour is largely driven by irrational fears, frustrations, hopes and volatile emotions. Is your business marketing working on that emotional impact level? Virtually all advertising appeals to emotion instead of logic because emotions are far more powerful in influencing behaviour. However, the trick that the film showed brilliantly in the climactic Nike pitch scene was just how SPECIFIC we have to be in addressing the fears, frustrations and emotional impulses of our target markets. In my view, the film is must-see marketing training for that reason alone. Watch that scene and the ad itself which Gibson’s character narrates to see how specifically he addresses EXACTLY ‘what women want’. But, you ask, how can we find out what these (often hidden) emotions and irrational fears are? In my humble opinion, we have to be in constant dialogue with individuals precisely in our target market and constantly inviting new research ‘guinea pigs’ in order to find more out about “What My Buyers Want” and no, it won’t be a new car. It will be usually be a SPECIFIC, deeply EMOTIONAL need, want or desire. As Eben Pagan rightly says, most non-essential purchases are driven by emotion THEN rationalized by the logical part of the brain later. The science-fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein put it another way: “Man is not a rational animal, he is a rationalizing animal.” People usually want to talk but you are looking for an especially frank, honest and blunt person who will tell you what’s REALLY going on with your target market. Though the marketing ‘inventor’ is unknown, Eben Pagan recommends building a whole composite ‘avatar’ with a whole life story of your typical customer or client mapped out. Are you doing that with your marketing at the moment? One conversation with a candid prospect could be worth a great deal of money to your business not only in what SPECIFIC marketing messages you are putting out, but also in NOT saying things that alienate or turn off your prospects. It may sound a bit crazy - actually marketing is full of way crazier stuff than this - but IMAGINE what thoughts you would hear if you could overhear your prospects’ thoughts. At their very psychological core, what common drives and specific thoughts exist among them? Is it the desperate need for respect from their peers or superiority over them? A sense of power over their lives? The desire to be cool, accepted and popular? Even these are much too general and need a great deal more development on the SPECIFICS. “What Women Want”. Check it out for a quick marketing refresher course.