If you’ve ever learned to sail, your instructor may have said this to you: “No matter how big or small your boat, the sea is always full size.”
It’s a basic truth in sailing and, as it happens, it’s equally cogent in marketing. When applied to the business of making sales and building a brand, your boat is your budget and the sea is the market.
So, in the same way that successful sailors are the ones who really understand the sea, you must work hard at really understanding the market – your customers.
They are oblivious to your brand and its budget and will carry on perfectly well without you – unless you get under their skin and into their lives. Unless you listen and listen and listen to their hopes and fears, their dreams and doubts. Unless you spend hours and hours with them and use the insights you gain in these encounters to develop your proposition, plot your course and make your pitch.
Even if all you have is a tiny dinghy, you’re more likely to stay afloat and reach your destination this way. Not because anyone will have made allowances for your limited budget, but because your competitors won’t understand customers like you do.
Watch this video and you’ll see that Native Americans give similar advice. They say “You cannot understand a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins.”
Adapted for marketing, it warns us that we can’t hope to design product or develop messages that mean anything to our customers until we have shared their world, heard their stories and experienced something of their journey.
Happily, of course, it implies great success when we do.
May we suggest you borrow someone’s moccasins soon?