Adam Gartenberg's Blog

Business Analytics and Optimization, IBM and Social Marketing

MTOTD: You think you’re everyone!


As I sat in the airport waiting for my flight last night, I was reminded of a commercial run by one of the major airlines here in the US several years ago.  (I want to say it was United, but am not positive on that; maybe one of you can remember?)  It featured a businessman walking through an international airport, eventually arriving at his gate, where he is greeted in English by the American gate attendant.  The voice over says something to the effect of "you can relax now, it's like you're back home already," with the message very clearly coming across that even though you're still standing in a foreign airport, because you were in the boarding area of your American airline with an American staff, it was like you were already back home in the States.

I forget exactly when the ad came out, but I want to say I was in my early twenties, with no family of my own yet, and at a time when "business travel" meant a trip on the company shuttle van from Manhattan to Long Island.  International travel was rare-to-non-existant, and certainly not something I could imagine wanting to foreshorten.

As you can guess, at the time the commercial did not resonate with me whatsoever, and if anything came across as insulting - here was a guy so anxious to leave whatever country he was in that he couldn't even wait to be on the plane before pretending he was out of there -  and I remember commenting as such to my father when the ad came on one day.  His response to the ad?  It was the exact opposite of mine.  As someone who did travel internationally for work, with a family to come back to, he said this was exactly the feeling he gets upon checking in at the gate at the end of one of his business trips.

And sure enough, now that I'm at a place where I am traveling for work, where I do have a family waiting for me back home, I completely get where he - and the commercial - are coming from.  Even when traveling domestically, by the time I've returned the rental car, dropped off my bags, made it through security.... I'm ready to be home, no matter how worthwhile or exciting the trip might have been.

One of the harder parts of marketing is remembering that you are not necessarily the target market for your product.  Good marketing means constant research and engagement with your current (and hopeful) customers.  It means putting aside your own experiences and biases and focusing exclusively on their needs, wants, and frame of mind.  (And even harder is getting your executives - especially non-marketing executives - to remember this, as well.  Just because they've subscribed to Fortune magazine for the past 20 years, it doesn't mean that it will be the best publication in which to take out your ads.  Your best weapon to counter this?  Customers! Customers! Customers! Research! Research! Research!)

Today's marketing thought:  Are you advertising and writing for yourself?  Or are you advertising and writing for your target market?