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What Do Science, Sales, Marketing and Harley-Davidson Have in Common?

Posted by Carole Mahoney on 1/12/12 7:11 PM

Marketing Lessons from Harley Davidson & Dr. Dave Reibstein

Last night the Maine Center for Creativity hosted a talk with Dr. Dave Reibstein (herein referred to as Dr. Dave) To be truthful, I had signed up for the talk in November and had forgotten about it. The reschedule reminder email and title "Creativity & Innovation: The Good, Bad, & Ugly" prompted me to leave the house for the first time in days. (ok, so what if I really just needed an excuse to get out of the office and on the road...)

Once there, and following the glowing introduction from the good people over at the Maine Center for Creativity, I checked out Dr. Dave, online. Then I sat up a bit straighter, listened a little closer and asked to borrow a pen.

Marketing Lesson 101: Discovering the Customer's Needs & Wants

How to ask people what they want when thy don't know what they want, or know its feasible? There are many ways to do this. There are countless technologies, processes and secret formulas you can pay a consultant to share with you. But they will all come down to one thing:"Ask!" You will find the answers when you know what questions to ask.

Here is what NOT to do. Don't create a product, or marketing campaign, because you love it. You are not a sufficient sample size over the population of your customers.

Some of the other points from Dr. Dave on why some product launches fail:

  • Didn't do a sufficient job of getting it to market
  • Lack of awareness and distribution in the market
  • Price inconsistent with the willingness to pay

He gave many examples of product launches that failed (anyone remember the Apple Newton)?

Then he talked about a well-known brand; Harley Davidson, and what they do right.

Sales and Marketing Both Discover Needs and Wants Through Observation

Apparently, every year HOG opens up the factory doors and gives their die-hard followers a sneak peak at next year's models as they come off the assembly line. Food, drink, refreshments and Daisy Dukes. Cool!

While the crowd lives it up, H-D turns their attention to the parking lot. They observe each H-D driven in and how the owners have customized their bike from the original factory design. They use those observations to design the next year's line.

How Does Your Company Use Observation?

If you ask my youngest son to go get something, it better not be a life-saving device. Quite literally, he can not find something directly in front of his face. You will often hear me say, "How could you not find this?" Him; "I didn't see it!" Me: "No, you just didn't look!"

Even if you do not have a process for observation, you have one. It may be inconsistent, ineffective and costly, but you have a process; you just may not realize it.

Where does marketing observe? In analytics, focus groups, social media? Yes to all of the above. Unlike my son, don't just look in one place. Move the pickle jar to find the jam!

How does sales observe the level of engagement or find the compelling reason for a prospect to solve a problem? Do they act like my son and can't see what is right in front of them because they are not looking for it? Or are they lazy and don't want to look too hard to find an objection?

When sales and marketing compare notes, what are they comparing? What conclusion do they come to? What experiments and action will they take based on what they have learned through observation? How will they use that to more accurately predict their customer's needs and wants?

How does your business use that information to stay one step ahead of your customer and two steps ahead of the competition? How do you do that in an era of real-time and social commerce?

Would you like some help with that?

Topics: scientific marketing, sales development, advanced analytics