When I consult with clients and they struggle with the story their brand tells about their customer, my favorite shortcut is to ask, “How does your product or service get your customer laid?” I literally ask my clients this very question. At first, they’re shocked. But it works.
Strong brands help their customers solve problems, present a positive image to the world, feel empowered, feel accomplished, and feel like the hero in their own personal stories.
Think about what happens when you’re feeling like you’re on top of the world, feeling heroic, and feeling that everything is working out the way you hoped it would.
No matter which cliché you use—the feeling of having wind in your sails, the world on a string, or holding life by the balls—that feeling puts you in the mood for sex.
When I say having sex, it may mean literally jumping into bed naked with your partner. But it may also have a more figurative meaning: experiencing the exhilaration of neighbors or other moms in the carpool complimenting, fawning over, and praising you, as well as having your ego stroked and being appreciated your husband and children. All of these things feel great, too.
Branding is about making people feel so good that they want to take a roll in the hay. That’s it.
The IT manager as hero
The most successful and profitable brands in the world are created around people. Sure, some brands are naturally sexier than others, but why should a purchasing manager have less of an emotional connection to their microprocessors than I do to my shoes?
Let me give you an example.
My company works extensively with Dell Corporation on the enterprise side of their business, the part of their company that sells systems and solutions to the IT managers of other businesses. Traditionally, Dell treated enterprise IT managers as if they were robots—completely devoid of feelings and abstract thoughts.
What we know here at Sol Marketing is that each of those IT managers has a story they are writing for their own lives. That story involves them, eventually, getting laid.
If your brand can help that happen, you’ll have a loyal customer.
When I am working with Dell or with any other company that sells technology products and services to IT purchase influencers, I want the company to step outside of itself as a brand and step into the hearts and minds of its IT manager customer. That IT manager is a human being who has wants and needs and desires.
Conjure up an image of that person in your mind. Ask yourself, “What does success look like for that person? What does getting laid look like for him or her?” Then ask yourself, “How does my product/brand/service do that for them?”
Dell sells a lot of servers. The servers Dell sells go into racks that live in computer rooms and data centers all over the world. Servers don’t feel cool when you hold them in your hand. To the unindoctrinated, run-of-the-mill human, a server probably looks like a mess of metal and plastic and wires.
On the surface, a server just isn’t that sexy, nor is the Dell brand. A server is not like a bottle of perfume, a designer leather jacket, or a Ferrari.
So let’s do an exercise for illustration’s sake. For purposes of this exercise, take a walk in an IT manager customer’s shoes. Let’s say this particular customer is a forty-seven-year-old man. He works at a nationwide furniture retailer with stores in twenty-two states.
He has a need to put together an IT program in which all of the remote stores can send their transaction and inventory data to a central location at night. That requires a lot of computing power, remote access capabilities, and powerful servers and software—none of which are very sexy. All of those things must work together flawlessly.
If you think about what is unsexy about this IT manager’s job, it is a phone call from a store manager in the middle of the night. Also unsexy is when the chief information officer comes down on him hard and says, “We did not pull data last night, and we don’t have the store-by-store results. My boss is up my ass for sales results, and because of an IT infrastructure issue and a network failure, we cannot do that.”
These are terribly unsexy things that can happen to this guy, and they absolutely can prevent him from getting laid.
The essence of brand strategy is to take that unsexiness and turn it around. To do that, you should ask, “How do we actually get that guy laid?”
How we get our IT manager laid
Dell does that by offering reliable products that they stand behind and develop with IT purchase influencers’ needs in mind. Dell is trying to give that IT manager the world-on-a-string feeling we described earlier in this chapter by delivering on its promises to him.
Dell’s goal is to make that IT manager the hero in his own story. It’s right there in their current brand manifesto: “The Power to Do More.”
Dell gives an IT manager the power to do more, not only with IT but in his life. Dell gets him home for dinner on time and inspires him with the confidence that everything back at work is functioning flawlessly, even when he’s not there.
Dell’s industry-leading uptime and reliability get him laid by preventing phone calls in the middle of the night when stores cannot send their data to the home office.
Dell makes sure the boss is not standing in the IT manager’s office at 8:00 a.m. the next morning growling, “Where have you been? The network crashed.”
These are the things Dell does to help him become the hero in the story of his life. Sure, Dell products are reliable, scalable, flexible, durable, innovative, and a good value. But it’s the way they make, sell, deliver, and support those products that enable their customers to “do more.”
How can you get your customer laid?
Take a moment to answer this same question for your own brand.
What does your customer need? What gets them love, attention, and affection? What could go wrong with your brand that would ruin their chances at sex?
By understanding the story behind your customer’s purchase, you’ll be better suited to ensure you are getting your customer laid. That’s the whole game.