'We're looking for something newsy,' PC Dealer said. 'Something topical and ... oh, a picture. Do you have a press photo?'
'Yes,' I said, 'but they're all boring - standard head shots with uncomfortable smile. Would it mean more if I sent you the one of me scuba diving?
Or what about me at the top of Kilimanjaro?'
PC Dealer asked: 'Can we see your face in it?'
'Well, no, not really, but does it matter?'
Yes, it does.
Faces, people, communicating, selling, servicing, trusting and product, product, product. Now that's important when you're selling, isn't it?
Is it not all about showing the face of the product?
So, have you guessed yet? My confession - I'm in marketing, and I sell people's faces.
But who are you dealers? You take our products and market them to your customers. You talk to the individuals who eventually become your customers - they are committed to you and believe what you sell them is good.
They buy our products, sold by you, and you continue to build on that relationship.
You hope, we hope, these customers will be so delighted with what they have purchased that they will not only buy more, they will buy something else too.
Recently, I joined a well-known PC dealer who had invited all his best customers to a product launch. He knew them all by name, how their businesses were doing and what ideas they were trying out.
So what did they talk about - macros, utilities, apps, nano-mega-hyper-Webmebobs? No. They laughed about old times, shared successes and industry gossip. They trusted what the value of his new product could give them and business was done too. He was the face behind the marketing.
I ask you to reflect - who is your face behind the marketing? Well, Richard Branson is Virgin's, and the IT industry has Gates and Ellison. But I don't just mean pictures on the front of Business Week. Do you just market product or are you building relationships with your customers through your marketing message? Do you speak their language? Think about it - how compelling is a picture of a printer or a motherboard?
Go on, just flick through the ads in this magazine. What do you see?
Marketing spiel? Product pictures? Why not try using pictures of your customers alongside their words? There just isn't any marketing more powerful than the faces of happy customers.
Where there is room for innovation, go for it. Take those pictures and print them on everything. Hurray for the mouse people - IT design at last.
Real people can buy to reflect their individuality.
The keyboard folks are doing it. Personally, I like the curvy, shapely ones - you've seen them. So why not offer some chunky ones with larger keys for those folks with chunky fingers?
And why use pictures of PCs? Your customers know what PCs look like, but do they know what your customer service staff look like? You know, the real people who take calls and answer enquiries.
What do I look like? Does it matter? Of course it does. You see, I'm a real person, as are your customers and yourself. So what do I really look like without a face? I'm a marketing director of a company that sells software with the ability to help you and your customers make better decisions every day.
Carol Brannigan is marketing director of Cognos.
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