April 26, 2021

Posted By: Sherrie Brindley

What Are You Really Selling?

How can you position your shop to the most desired, most preferred shop in your market?

Your marketing plan probably includes things like a website, postcards, text messages, and emails featuring information about your business and maybe some offers or coupons to entice clients in the door.

These things are standard tried-and-true methods of promotion. What if you could enhance those existing efforts to make them even more effective?

This article will discuss an idea from consumer psychology that may give your normal advertising a boost.

A 2018 Medium article by Zander Nethercutt describes it this way: “People Don’t Buy Products; They Buy Better Versions of Themselves.”

Zander shares Pepsi's story to explain how a business might use this in marketing.

In the 1960s Pepsi created the “Pepsi Generation.”

How did they do it?

They “painted an image of [their] customers as active, vital and young at heart” and helped the customers to adopt an identity for themselves.

These kids didn’t need their parents’ morning coffee; they were the “Pepsi Generation.” And the Pepsi Generation drank Pepsi in the morning.

Pepsi subsequently sold a lot of soda to the Pepsi Generation.

If folks in the 60s were the Pepsi Generation, today we might see customers who say they are an “Apple” person if they own an iPhone.

Zander said it this way: “In a society of ultra-conscious consumers, successful brands will be those who make consumers feel the way they want to feel about themselves.”

But what does that mean for you, a local business owner?

Just because you’re appealing to a local audience, rather than the whole world, doesn’t mean you can’t use some of the same strategies the big guys use. That means thinking beyond the basics of courteous service and good product quality.

Is your business one that customers associate with a better version of themselves?

Let’s say you sell tires. Can you frame that in terms of the way your customers would like to see themselves?

For example, buying good tires means a shorter stopping distance, which helps avoid accidents, which keeps the family safe. So maybe you highlight the customer identity of Family Protector. Tapping into that desired identity can create stronger loyalty even with no changes to your products, services or pricing.

Instead of positioning your shop as the cheapest tire place in town, highlight your commitment to safety and appeal to the Family Protector rather than the budget conscious buyer.

What customer wouldn't rather think of himself or herself as a Family Protector instead of a cheapskate.

"It’s all about catering to the image
your customers want to have of themselves."

Is your marketing appealing to who your customers want to be – their best version of themselves?

Review your shop’s marketing materials and see where you can include the message about who your customer is and who they want to be.

Who are oil change customers?

  • Drivers
  • Car Owners

How might they want to see themselves?

  • Car aficionado
  • Take care of their belongings
  • Want car to last a long time
  • Value reliability
  • Smart
  • Responsible
  • Efficient

Maybe highlight that people who are Smart and Efficient tend to be successful. So highlight that identity of success for drivers who get their oil changed in a timely manner at the best shop in town (your shop).

Or you could choose to focus on happiness, since people who get their oil changed/preventative maintenance done regularly have fewer worries giving them the freedom to be happier.

Choose an identity that resonates with the relationship your shop has with its customers and the way they might want to see themselves as a result of their interaction with your business.

Then incorporate that message of happiness or success (or whatever you decide on) into your existing marketing plan so it appears on your website, on your postcards, etc.

The key thing is that your appeal be genuine. The more your brand is telling honest stories about your shop and its customers the more impactful your marketing will be.

P.S. For an excellent example of a company appealing to who their customers want to be, look up the background for the Subaru campaign: “Love. It’s what makes a Subaru a Subaru.“