Dr. Marketer?

Picture_12 Sometimes, we get so caught up in discussing tactics or crunching numbers that we forget we’re in the human behavior business.  At the very root of marketing is this reality: 

Our job is to get people to do something.  Believe something.  Care about something.  Our job is to affect human behavior.  And to affect it, we must understand it.

I’m not saying we all need to run out and get our doctorate in psychiatry.  But I am suggesting we’d better be avid students. 

On any given day, a marketing professional might have to:

  • Understand what motivates a 33 year old suburban mom
  • Talk a client down from the figurative ledge because their boss is demanding instant results
  • Ask questions that get people to think in a new way
  • Write in a way that’s native and comforting to a person facing their death
  • Motivate employees to do superior work for a client who nitpicks and changes direction mid-stream
  • Take a furious customer from screaming to calm and feeling heard
  • Guide a group discussion to help a client unearth an uncomfortable truth about their company’s service
  • Figure out how and why three 19 year olds react completely differently to a new product
  • And so much more

I don’t believe a person can be successful in marketing if they don’t understand and care about how people tick.   

Of course, the couch is optional.

What do you think?  Am I placing too much importance on this aspect of marketing?

11 comments on “Dr. Marketer?

  1. Douglas Karr says:

    I agree, Drew. I’m reading a great book right now called Herd by Mark Earls and it’s a fantastic book (very deep) on human behavior. It may change your perception on Marketing and Advertising.

    Herd: http://dwarfurl.com/5ac49
    Mark Earl’s Blog: http://herd.typepad.com/

  2. John Jackson says:

    This absolutely is the case, and I find it important to remember that people are random and act in different ways depending on the different roles they are undertaking. For example I market eCommerce solutions to people who run small buisnesses. Typically business 2 business tecnology marketing will involve lots of jargon,images of circuit boards, men in suits etc. But by talking to and spending time with our potential customers it quickly became apparent that they were not a part of this type of technology world. Instead to gain their attention we have used far softer images, inclding cartoon characters and gardening themes. Added to this all jargon has been banned and instead we focus on the benefits eCommerce will bring their buisness as the major selling message. And yes this has been highly successful. To gain a feel for our approach to marketing to businesses please visit http://www.helpingbusinessgrow.co.uk
    So yes the more you can understand your customer, the world they live in, and their aspirations the easier it becomes to deliver successful marketing campaigns to them.

  3. I don’t think you are over emphasizing this aspect at all. Understanding human behavior is at the core of successful marketing.

  4. Arlin Pauler says:

    Great stuff!
    Now how do we actually do this? What are some of the detail actions we perform to achieve this very enlightened and human – humane – approach to helping people succeed?
    Seems to me this is a very simple objective that is very complex in its execution. And yet I’m sure we are all doing this to some degree. Maybe it would be time well spend for us to post our three most effective actions we have used to practice this approch to marketing. I know I would be greateful to learn more about how to be more successful in the practice of this method.
    Have a fun and fulfilling day, Arlin

  5. Doug,

    Thanks for the book tip. I just ordered it. What’s been your biggest takeaway from it so far?


  6. John,

    Anytime jargon can be banned, I think that is a good thing. Unless a site or blog is closed and the only inhabitants are insiders.

    How do you recommend people discover their audience and explore what really motivates and matters to them?


  7. Cathy,

    Do you have a tip or trick on how business owners should go about understanding their customers better?


  8. Arlin,

    Interesting idea. I’ll tell you what. I’ll create the post and you help me spread the word. Let’s see how many people we can get to contribute to the post…and maybe we’ll have an e-book on our hands?

    You game?


  9. John Rosen says:

    In answer to the question from Drew of whether there are tips or tricks for a business owners can go about understanding their customers better, I am constantly amazed at how many small business owners don’t really try, using excuses like “I’m too busy,” or “we don’t have a budget for that.” We worked with a single-location wine shop in Manhattan, designed a simple one page (yes one page) , 16-question questionnaire, collected about 150 respndents and stapled the receipt to completed questionnaire. The results A) took up 35 pages (35 pages!) in our book, Stopwatch Marketing, and B) had a real impact on how the wine does business. Among the findings: 1. a vast majority of the customers found out abou tthe shop simply by walking by. Recommendations: Get a bigger, better-lighted sign and make sure the sidewalk is clean. 2. A majority are purchasing wine to consume in less than 24 hours, they want to get in, get out in less than 15 minutes and for less than $20. Recommendations: Set up a “$20 table” right in front of the store, visible from the street. Deliver directly to the customer’s apartment if they buy more than one bottle (pantry-loading, so the customer doesn’t “find out about” some other store by “walking by.” 3. If a customer actually talks with a slaesperson in store and spends more than 15 minutes in the store, they buy more bottles and spend more per bottle. Recommendations: Better staff training, more staff. Obviously, we had more and more detailed findings and recommendations. My point, to reiterate, is that we came up with 35 pages worth of truly valuable findings based on a single page questionnaire and 150 reponses. Shame — and I do mean shame — on any business owner who claims she has netitgher the time nor the money to invest in such an “understand the customer” effort!

    (Yes, you can find the whole report, chock full of charts & graphs in our book, Stopwatch Marketing)

  10. John,

    Thanks for sharing all of this information. It is absolute proof that it doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive to get the information you need.

    I’m with you — shame on anyone who does not make the effort.


  11. John Rosen says:


    Remember this dialog, above? Our book, Stopwatch Marketing, is about to be published. May I send you a copy to review?



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