The Usual Suspects


We think this is our 250th blog.


We say “think” because we haven’t counted them all. But the inbox where we file them says 249 items. Guess we have to trust that.


This means 250 different ways of saying pretty much the same stuff. Just start with a different set up story each time, right…?


So, we thought we’d mark the occasion by saying more of what we usually say.


However, this time there are no stories about famous sports people or actors. No obscure poems or parables. No referencing old psychology experiments. Just a few important principles.


Principles that we all know are important but can be easily forgotten when you are trying to manage lots of competing demands. Principles that, when you are trying to influence shopper behaviour, should be the foundation of what you do.


Think of them as our greatest hits. Well, if you have a very loose definition of “greatest” and an even looser definition of “hits”. Anyway, here they are…


Remember what you’re selling. Purpose is good. But it needs to be relevant purpose. Don’t go too deep that you lose sight of what you’re selling. You are still selling yoghurt. Or cereal. Or toothpaste. Shoppers just want to buy a really good yoghurt. Or cereal. Or toothpaste.


Look for the majority. Segment shoppers but don’t over segment. Target activities but don’t micro target. Make sure that your activity is relevant to enough shoppers that it can make a difference. A brilliantly relevant activity for 5% of shoppers is not nearly as good as a relevant activity for 50%.


Sell the stuff that sells. Having the best blueberry ice cream is good. Having the best vanilla ice cream is much better. The launch of the parsnip crisps is good. The extra distribution points on cheese & onion are even better. Too much time is spent trying to sell the stuff that doesn’t sell. Spend your time on the stuff that does.


Focus on the most important thing. Often brands are so busy trying to tell shoppers everything that they don’t tell them the most important thing. The thing that is most likely to get shoppers to buy. Channel your inner tabloid editor. Lead with the headline. Don’t bury it.


Less is more. Don’t use lots of words when you could use few words. Don’t use a long word when you could use a short one. Don’t use technical language when you could use everyday language. If you’re worried you’re not saying enough you’ve probably got it about right.


Be different. The best retailers offer things that other retailers can’t. The best categories offer things that other categories can’t. The best brands offer things other brands can’t. They are different. They look different. They sound different. Do what only you can do.


Be consistent. You get bored much more quickly than shoppers do. The campaign you’ve looked at every day for the last few months, the average shopper might not have even seen. So, be consistent. Consistent over time. Consistent across touchpoints. Red Bull still “gives you wiiings”, right?


Be patient. A lot of companies are on the hamster wheel of new product launches. Launch. Try to get as much trial as possible. Move onto the next launch. Then the next one. Most new products don’t fail because they don’t get trial. Most new products fail because they don’t get repeat. Don’t move on too quickly. Give things the chance to succeed.


Don’t say we don’t practise what we preach. We’re 250 blogs in and we’re still waiting for it to succeed.


Feel free to forward. Have good weekend. Speak to you in a fortnight.