There is an old video floating around the internet that shows a blind man sitting on a sidewalk in a town square, holding a sign that reads, “Help me, I’m blind”. A few people walk past and throw him some change, but he is mostly ignored by the people around him. That is, until a woman approaches him and rewrites the text on his sign: “It’s a beautiful day and I can’t see it.”
The best brands and marketers approach their customers with the same attitude as the woman who rewrote the sign. Appealing to humanity is almost always the best way to gain favor with consumers. Don’t talk about the problem, or solutions – talk about shared perceptions.
The Samsung vs Apple battle is always an interesting place to look at this concept. Often times we see Samsung commercials touting larger screens, blazing fast 4G, and a bunch of extra storage. All great stuff. What does Apple show us?
Guy off screen: “Siri, I want cupcakes.”
Siri: “I found 3 organic cupcake bakers close to you.”
Cupcakes obviously have nothing to do with the iPhone, but who doesn’t love dessert? Apple is selling a lifestyle. Samsung is selling electronics.
To test this theory of appealing to shared perceptions, I performed a little experiment. Historically, at [wire] stone Sacramento we have a very messy kitchen – and I don’t mean that metaphorically. I mean we have a dishes piled high, smelly trash, dirty-counter kitchen. If you ever had a bunch of roommates in college, this is what your kitchen looked like. Anyway, one day someone had enough of the mess and put up a sign that said something like, “Clean up after yourself! The dishwasher is right there!” And guess what? It worked for about a day – until the dishes piled so high they covered the sign. Inspired by the video I mentioned above, I decided to take a different approach. I went to the kitchen, turned over the sign and wrote, “The Best Agencies Have Clean Kitchens”. I returned to my desk and waited on the results of my experiment. A few days later – victory. The message was received and the kitchen stays clean to this day. So clean, in fact, that someone threw my sign away.