Who turns on the ambulance lights?
At the weekend I was driving with my three-year-old son in the car.
An ambulance tore past with its blues and twos on.
“Was that an ambulance Daddy?” came the inevitable question from the back.
“Yes,” I replied.
“Did it have its flashing lights on Daddy?”
“Yes it did,” I said.
“Who turned them on?”
Going along with it, I replied: “The ambulance driver”.
A few moments silence followed while the information was digested.
Then came the response: “How did he get on to the roof to turn them on?”
We’ve had numerous exchanges like this over the last year.
I’m sure other parents will relate to the sometimes-baffling questions.
His questions often remind me how things are only obvious because of our pre-existing knowledge.
Toddlers have no pre-existing knowledge.
In this way they’re like consumers.
As marketers we often forget how little customers know about our product or service.
But consumers are not thinking about us day-in, day-out.
To market anything successfully we have to appreciate their current knowledge.
Only by understanding this can we communicate a message that will change or develop their mindset.
This is why I’m often struck when prospective clients ask if we have experience in their category.
Obviously we need experience in our area of expertise.
But there’s often an assumption that if we have category experience we’ll do a better job.
I think the reverse is true.
Clients have so much experience in their sector that it’s sometimes hard for them to unlearn this.
A big part of our value is our naivety.
It helps us think like a consumer.