Marketing Lessons from Interface Development

While in university, I took a course in User Interface development for writing software. One of the books that I read for course, from the suggested reading list, was The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman. In it, he discusses how, when designing anything to be used by someone else, you need to put yourself in their place, to see the object from the perspective of the user.

Marketing is no different.

If you want to send a message to potential buyers, you need to envision yourself as a buyer. Not as your ideal buyer, nor as a theoretical buyer. You need to envision yourself as a real buyer.

What’s a real buyer?

A real buyer is anyone who might actually buy your product or service. However, rather than use an abstract example, you need to use concrete examples of such people.

For example, if you’re trying to sell a service that helps people publish in magazines, a theoretical buyer is an advertiser in that magazine, or an article writer who has articles regularly published in Magazine Y.

A real buyer, however, is Susan Smith, owner of a local flower boutique who advertises her store in a community newspaper, published once a week. She’s already paying $125 per publication, but her graphics are done herself, and look cheap.

Another real buyer is Jake Johnson, who recently graduated from a journalism program, and is writing a monthly feature in Small Town magazine. He dreams of getting picked up by The National Post, and wants to bring attention to his writing.

Both of these buyers are real people, although they are different from one another. However, when thinking of a marketing strategy, you need to look at the needs of real buyers.

Susan is not trying to make it big, but to remind people in her neighborhood that her store is around the corner, and what her weekly specials are. However, she might be interested in spending a couple hours cleaning up her ads so that she can look a little more professional.

Jake, however, is trying to move to larger magazines and newspapers. He may want someone to give him a comparison of writing styles from different magazines, or to help him adapt some of his articles to send in to large journals. On the other hand, he may appreciate having his own editor to give his writing an extra boost.

A good marketing plan would deal with these two buyers separately, since their needs are different. Trying to sell to both at the same time could easily lose both customers – approaching each on their own could easily gain two customers.

That’s not to say that every potential clients needs their own marketing plan. While that would work well for very small businesses, it’s difficult to scale. However, customers and clients need to be converted into small groups for the purposes of marketing, where the needs of every member of that group are being identified in the overall marketing plan for that group.