A few years back we did some marketing research for a well-known British builder of powerboats. It produced some very surprising results. One of the images we tested was an aerial photo of their fleet powering across the water in formation.
The MD loved the image, he thought it showed off their product range beautifully.
The target audience that we showed it to thought otherwise.
Consumers interpreted the picture as an image of boats racing. It didn’t relate to the boating they planned to do. It made them feel uncomfortable, it was a turn-off, it put them off the brand.
If we’d used that picture in a campaign as was being suggested, it would have done more harm than good.
It was a salient reminder that the things which a company is proud of can be quite different from the things that appeal to their target audience.
A car manufacturer might be very proud of its hi-tech painting process. But the customer is more interested in whether the paint is hard wearing and looks good.
The fact is that customers will always respond better to messages relating to their use of the product and how it fulfils their needs, as opposed to details of how it was produced or the company that made it.
It all comes down to that age-old marketing adage: focus on the benefits.