Every successful marketing strategy and campaign focuses on the destination rather than the vehicle. Yet, for many businesses, we make the mistake of leading with the vehicle.
If you’re selling piano lessons to 5 year olds, the vehicle is the lesson. What’s the destination? Learn to play the piano? No, learning to play the piano is part of the vehicle. The destination depends on who your target audience.
With the piano lessons, it’s probably connected with the parent’s desire and interpretation of social status. A parent wants the best for his child. He wants to provide a foundations to climb the social ladder. In his worldview, learning to play the piano will not only stimulate and encourage intellectual growth in other areas, but later in life it will also help earn a place in a reputable university. That leads to enhanced status for the child and parent. The child achieved her status, which means the parent achieves his.
From a marketing perspective, the teacher should first focus on attaching her lessons with this vision of social status. A content and bright child grows in confidence, excels with piano and in turn becomes a successful student who has her pick of the top universities in the country.
Once you clearly establish the destination, you connect it with your vehicle and demonstrate how your vehicle will take the customer to their chosen destination.
Where many businesses go wrong
Many businesses go wrong because they either misinterpret the destination or ignore it completely. A B2B video agency believes their customer’s want great video that engage their audience. The agency write their copy to highlight this desired outcome. They produce promotional video to demonstrate the quality of their work.
Your customer doesn’t want any of this. In the B2B case, your customer isn’t a company, it’s the person making the decision on whether to commission your agency to produce the next video. The destination she is looking for is to climb the social ladder within their business. That means she wants a promotion, which means she wants to impress her boss.
You can’t directly communicate this destination through your copy and promotional material, but you can put in the research to learn how this person will impress her boss. What metrics and signals does she need to send to her boss? Whatever these metrics are, that’s what you need to offer. Depending on the audience you’re targeting, she may want to work with:
- a famous agency
- an innovative agency
- a traditional agency
- a small agency
- a local agency
- the cheapest agency
- the most expensive agency
- the agency that delivers social engagement (because that’s what impresses her boss)
- an agency that can show a clear return on investment
- an agency that will not track performance (and therefore risk showing a poor return on investment)
- an agency that has her industry experience
You figure out which of the above she is looking for, you attach that destination with your product and then you explain how the vehicle (your product) will take her there.
Products with undesirable vehicles point the way
Companies that sell long term benefits show us how we should market our products. Long term benefits tend to derive from products with little short term appeal.
Your local dentist doesn’t give live Facebook videos on his latest surgical extraction (the vehicle). The Personal Trainer doesn’t write homepage copy on how he’ll create a plan that removes all the foods you love, introduces lots of food you hate and will have you on an intense exercise plan leaving you in agony for weeks (the vehicle). They both focus on the destination. A beautiful smile or body.
The dentist and PT both understand that the customer is buying the destination, not the vehicle. They connect their brand with the destination, then they prove how their vehicle takes you there.
Is the vehicle important?
The vehicle is critical. You should be focused on creating a product that delivers. Your vehicle is unique to your audience. There are a finite number of destinations (wealth, security, social status, etc.) but an infinite number of products and vehicles that will help the customer get there.
Once you’ve identified and selected from your customers desired destinations, you build the vehicle to take them there.
Destination first, vehicle second. If you don’t know the destination, it’ll be hard to sell the journey.