Nasa recently announced that the Mars rover, Perseverance, had discovered the “strongest signs yet” that there had been life on the planet at some time in the past. That got me thinking about marketing exercises, and “selling to an alien” is a good one for all types of businesses.
Marketing is about persuading others that they must have the product or service that you’re offering. We want consumers to know how we will improve their lives by saving them time or money, or fulfilling a need for entertainment or joy, or by keeping them healthy and safe. When we think about benefits though, we make assumptions.
We assume, for example, that people want to save money. We market our offering as the least costly option, and don’t really get into other information. The issue is that we’re therefore not marketing to those who have other decision-making criteria that are at least equal to the cost factor. You’re missing people who don’t know what your product does, why it’s important, or how it will benefit them; other than saving money, which is of no interest if they don’t intend to make a purchase.
Other common assumptions include that everyone wants to lose weight; everyone wants to smell fresh; everyone wants to save time cleaning. So, here’s the challenge of selling to an alien – you can’t make assumptions. We don’t know if most Martians are overweight, or if they would care if they were. We don’t know how they live, if smelling fresh is a thing, or what kind of shelter is commonplace. To promote our product or service, we need to drill down and explain all of the things we otherwise assume. In a way, it’s like trying to explain something to a 4-year-old who asks “why?” after every answer you give. The purpose of the exercise is to think of things that you wouldn’t usually mention in your marketing. Let’s try one.
You clean window blinds. Blinds are a convenient window covering that give us privacy and help modulate the temperature inside our homes. We don’t give them much thought, and while we don’t really notice, they do get dirty. Why do we care? Because they collect dust and grease, which provides an environment for mites, pet fur, germs, and other air borne contaminants. That poses both short and long-term health issues. Like what? A child with allergies or asthma who’s playing in the house and bumps into the blinds or opens the blinds to see outside, is going to get bombarded with particles that could cause an acute reaction. Over time, these contaminants continue to build up, so that every time you open a window to let in fresh air, you’re really just blowing those impurities all over your home. You end up creating polluted indoor air that can lead to chronic respiratory and other health problems.
So, having your blinds cleaned regularly is about providing a healthy environment for your family. That should be the primary focus for marketing, and you can make the educational approach your differentiator. The consumer will assume, that since you know why you are cleaning the blinds, that you’ll do a good job.
Try the exercise on your own products or services and see what you come up with.