This happens very often in the promotional world. Customers, vendors and everyone in between feels pretty strongly about an idea, project, product or promotion. It is because past experience, research, capabilities and expertise, that someone’s take on a specific subject may be better than someone else’s. But, how can this be conveyed to the other party? How do you explain in a nice way, that thorough research, experience in that specific field and that proven success in these type of programs could yield similar results in the future?
It is not easy. Some people feel very strongly about what they like and sometimes they can be blinded by their own personal beliefs. Just because you are married and have two little kids that “may” like something in particular, does not mean that all of your audience will feel the same way. We must detach yourself from our personal views and focus instead on the task at hand.
1. You are not always right. Yes, you may have research to back you up, and yes you may be very familiar with a specific culture, its way of thinking, language, etc., and yes you may have done one hundred promotions in this specific field, but, there is a chance you could be wrong. Listen to the other party and try to understand what their point of view is. If you don’t understand it, ask them to explain it again, but differently. Explain you do not comprehend but that you really want to understand it. The will very likely to explain it again. Do not agree just to agree - understand it. There is something new to learn every day. My dad gave me this great piece of advice: Do not go to bed until you have learned something new that day.
2. Stop using your kids as an example. Your kids could be very generic, average and you may think that they behave like any 4 or 12 year old out there, but this could not be furthest from the truth. There are millions of kids and every single one of them acts in a different way. If you don’t have any kids, then you should stop using your nieces and nephews as the representatives of every single kid, teen or tween. The controlled environment in which you have your close relatives under is completely different than the one of a focus group. I am not saying that your own focus group at home cannot be successful, but if you are going to attempt something like this, you should most definitely use more than 1 or 2 kids as a sample group. Kids, teens and tweens will act a certain way around parents and relatives and could act a completely different way when they are around their friends, peers and others.
3. Where do YOU fit demographically? Ask yourself: Does your family meet the same socio-economic criteria of my potential customers? Is your income the same as every single family out there that you wish to target as a consumer? Does every single family you considered a potential client, have the same number of kids you do? Does every family you wish to target send their kids to the SAME school? Do their kids have the same friends your kids do? Do those kids watch the same TV programs, play the same video games and eat the same cereal your kids do? I could go on and on…but understand now, that there is no possible way that 2 kids will act exactly the same way. Focus groups are intended to gather an understanding of a specific behavior, and why such behavior takes place. Even if you have the best focus group, your findings are simply informed assertions…not a guaranteed prediction of what will happen.
4. Give in a little: Yes, it is your responsibility as a consumer, as a client, as a vendor or as a partner to express your beliefs and your point of views on a specific promotion but try to, at all possible, avoid using examples that are counter-productive. Remember that just because your kid does something a certain way, that does not necessarily mean that is the way every kid will perform. So give in a little. If your client feels very strongly about something because based on their previous experience (which could be greater than yours in a specific topic) it worked a certain way, go ahead and let them have that one. Do not get into a wrestling match about who is right. Be sure to mention why you may not be in full agreement, but let them have the win. If you were correct in the end, chances are your customer might let you take the lead on that topic next time around. If you fought them to the end, you will build a reputation of always arguing with them and nothing good will come out of it.
Keep in mind this is a situation you will encounter not only with clients, but also with vendors. Learn from them as well. They ARE the experts too and they have very valid points of views also. Obviously, you have to associate yourself with vendors that are looking for your best interests and that want to produce good quality items just like you do - stay away from the vendors that will try to persuade you to manufacture something a certain way to cut costs on their end in order to create more profit for themselves.
Good results equal happy customers and most importantly, repeat customers.