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There are computers, there’s the Internet and there are people using it. Companies are there too: they have websites and they use the Internet to talk with their customers, through e-mails and stuff. “But, do they buy online? Like… groceries?”, she asked. Yes, they also do it. “So, are you an Internet grocery man?”
I’m certain that most of you already had this kind of conversations at least once in your life. Explaining what we do to our grandparents isn’t an easy task, even when our job is all about making things easy to understand. After attempting and failing, I used my super-marketing skills (“cough, cough”) and treated my grandma as if she was my target.
I started by putting myself in her shoes. She is in her seventies, so she lived most of her youth in 1960’s and 1970’s. She used to be a housewife and the first time she heard of the Internet, she must have been already in 1999. Despite, she knows now that computers evolved and everything depends on them. She also believes that marketing has something to do with advertising (which isn’t wrong), but she is more used to outdoors and TV commercials.
Aside from her age, I looked for her interests and noticed that, besides being a very good cook, my grandma liked to try new recipes. So I decided to use that to my advantage and told her to imagine herself looking for a very specific kind of spice. Where would she go if she wanted to buy it? “To the supermarket, of course”. Ok, here we go again, but now I’m prepared!
Can’t Google be our supermarket?
Following up our comparison, I challenged her to imagine what if she went to the supermarket knowing what she was looking for, but not knowing which brand she wanted to buy. She told me then that she would choose the first one that appears to her and I asked if she wouldn’t look for the package. “Yes, I would see if it is well-designed and maybe read the information in the pot”.
She agreed then that, if the information she finds there didn’t suit her expectations, she would look for another pot and choose the better one. So, once again, I challenged her to imagine that in one pot there was a paper with a really yummy recipe, while in the other one was just technical information. Maybe a professional cook telling her how to use the spice. Wouldn’t she choose that one, even if it was a bit more expensive? She agreed.
Now, imagine a website instead of the supermarket, in which the only thing you have to do is writing “Buy Indian Saffron” so you can find an enormous number of other websites with Indian Saffron. About 80% of the people will choose the first one they encounter (although it doesn’t make it the best product, neither the cheapest), but there is a large possibility for them to check other results.
I explained then that a part of my job is making sure that my company gets a good spot on the supermarket’s shelf, and also making the product more interesting for the ones that find us. Giving them a recipe or making a video with a professional cook are two possible approaches. We can also use Facebook and other similar tools to keep in touch. Fortunately for me, my grandmother heard of Facebook and she knows that it is a place where people post pictures of puppies and their relatives.
She also knows what e-mails are, so it wasn’t that hard to explain that sometimes I send promotional content with special offers to people. Pretty much like an Internet supermarket’s brochure. What she had a hard time understanding was how digital marketing is not always about selling. “How a supermarket doesn’t want to sell?”, she asked.
Selling is just one of many goals
In order to explain to her that selling is a consequence, I told her to imagine a promotional poster with capital letters, saying her to buy immediately. Another example I gave were the calls made from call centers insisting on changing the cable TV contract. She confessed that she uses to escape saying that she has something inside the oven. “I swear it works”.
Instead of that aggressive posture, I told her again about the cook she found in the supermarket. What if he teaches her a new recipe and constantly sends her new cooking techniques? In one way, he would be educating and adding value to her life. Even better: what if they became friends? Eventually, she would like him so much that she would buy his product, but she wouldn’t necessarily feel obligated to do that.
Educating would be the goal, while selling would be the consequence of a grateful consumer who saw any value in what the brand had to offer. And so I told her that my job was creating that value, finding what people need and the best way to deliver what they were looking for. After all that, she still didn’t look surprised.
“I was right. You’re an Internet grocery man!” I give up.