Has Nelson Mandela just nailed the customer proposition?
- 30 May 2016

'If you talk to man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.'

That's the great Nelson Mandela nailing the benefits of putting yourself in someone else's shoes and, for the purpose of this article; we're talking about your customer's.

What is the customer proposition?

I meet a lot of great companies with excellent services who are failing to hit the big time for one reason only: their brand proposition. They offer credibility, they offer responsibility, but they don't offer affinity and that's the game-changer.

Customer love is developed by creating a brand and back story which is meaningful, relevant and motivating for that specific person or group. The requirement to stand for something and let people know what you stand for is categorically the most important thing you can do for your brand. Everything you do needs to say 'hey customer, we get your desires, we get your fears, we are just like you. Engaging with us tells the world who you are and who you want to be'.

Some companies avoid differentiating themselves with a misguided fear of narrowing their target audience. Why? It's proven so much more successful for brands to focus on a specific target market to engage, nurture and retain. Who do you please if you try to please everyone? No-one that's who. Ask BHS.

A great example of this is Marmite: a business which has flourished with a 'some of you'll hate us but some of you'll love us' approach. This has far out-manoeuvred other condiments which neither offend nor excite. They might as well totally commit to their failing brand strategy and call themselves 'Meh Sauce'.

To confirm this, a host of research shows that brand proposition is more important  than advertising. That a customer knowing exactly what you stand for and seeing your brand less often is more beneficial than a brand which is always speaking but never really talking to the customer. Powerful stuff.

What you stand for shouldn't be confused with what you do. Knowing that you make healthy juices tells me very little. Knowing that you make healthy juices with quirky, fun branding to appeal to children, that you donate to St Ormond's Street and your CEO is a family man who grows his own veg? Now that gives me a picture. Can I engage with that? Sure. Pass me one of your delicious smoothies.

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