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How do I communicate with people I just don’t understand?

I have been thinking a great deal the last few days about the challenges of marketing and communicating with different people. Particularly those whose mindset and attitude to life is so dramatically different from my own. It is a challenge many businesses face – the inventor identifies a product that fits a niche – unfortunately he doesn’t really understand the potential customers and the product fails to make the impact it should.

For some it is easier than others. Our new client, LSO St Luke’s recently attended an exhibition aimed specifically at the PA market. Rather than focus on traditional event buyers they wanted to meet those people that influence the managing directors in their choices. A good decision that paid off with a substantial return on their investment.

But there are other people and sectors where the differences are so huge that “understanding the way they think” is far more challenging. I am rather obsessed with this topic at the moment because someone stole a canoe of mine last week. For several years it has been a source of fun, holidays and excitement for my family. Now, who knows – sold on ebay, hidden in someone’s garage or simple dumped somewhere. What drives such people, is it the need for cash, the thrill of it. I guess we will never find out (except under the very unlikely circumstances that they are caught).

However, what I find interesting about this from a communications point of view is the fact that ultimately we can only guess at what might drive these individuals, which in turn makes marketing to them a true challenge – but market we must because they are still ultimately consumers on some level – with brand preferences, desires and aspirations.


h is of course one part of the answer, as are perception studies and experimentation. Above all though, the most important choice we make in our communication is the choice of message and language. People define themselves and the people they associate with through the way the words they choose to use. Pick the right words and you can communication with anyone.

Oh – and by the way. If you hear of anyone selling a “Mad River Explorer” canoe, in green, serial number WEMPZANCL506. Either myself or the police would love to hear about it.


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