Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Anniversary update or "How Life is Often Like Marketing"

Last week I went a bit crazy looking for the perfect anniversary gift for my wife. It's tough for me, since she really doesn't like jewelry and this being a special anniversary I wanted to get her something enduring, romantic and beautiful. In other words: jewelry.

So like marketers who think they know what their customers want better than their customers, I went on a wild spree looking for the perfect diamond bracelet. I knew if it had a chance in hell, it had to be somewhat unique, beautiful and not too, too expensive. Naturally, I came up with nothing. (I did see one that was mind boggling, but its mid-five figure price tag was a bit out of range)

Not to fear, we were going away for a romantic anniversary weekend. So, I thought, it would be a perfect opportunity to let her pick it out.

Like a marketer launching a product with no real consumer need, I surprised my lovely wife with my romantic idea. And, like that same marketer who wonders why no one is buying the product that no one really needs. My reception was weak. She is so nice. She really tried to act excited. She really tried to act thrilled. She did, however, gently, remind me that she doesn't really wear that much jewelry and now with our 3 year-old, wears even less.

But like any good marketer, I allowed myself to ignore her gentle pleas and took her shopping the next day at a number of fine boutiques. Nothing caught her eye. She was in pain; at one point actually saying: "I'm sorry, I'm trying to find something I like."

Then it happened. As we were strolling along the Avenue among the shops, we began talking about a trip she took the other day when she got completely lost. We joked about how often that happens and I continued, in the joking environment, by saying: "What I really should have done was gotten you a GPS Navigation System for our anniversary." hehehe...

There it was. The Expression. The Joy. The look I was hoping for when I told her about the bracelet.

You see, like too many of today's marketers I didn't really know my customer. Or, more accurately, I knew my customer but decided to ignore the research and do what I thought was best, anyway. I see it every day in my professional life and in my 'consumer' life and I always think: "How can these companies be so stupid?" Now, I know how easy it is, even with the best intentions.

So, now I'm researching GPS Navigation Systems. Perhaps not as romantic or enduring as I had hoped, but I bet my wife will be a lot happier gazing into a GPS than into a diamond bracelet when she takes a wrong turn and ends up in the heart of Newark...