Written by

Andrew Millar


July 26, 2007

I had a week off last week.

Hell, was I looking forward to it.

My normal plan for time off is to cram in a bit of travelling. Often leaving the minute I had stepped over the threshold and joined the traffic, leaving town on a Friday night. We’d often return within 12 hours of having to front back at work. So the first Monday back I was often jet lagged or car lagged.

However, this time I wanted it to be different.

I wanted to spend a little time at home pottering around with a list of jobs. I wanted to spend time with a hammer in one hand and a paintbrush in the other. Enjoy a VB at the end of the day. And to sleep the sleep of the honest toiler, weary from a day of fair labour.

The list was drawn and for a couple of weeks before I collected the things I needed to replace a drain pipe or two, re-engineer a verandah and repaint a few rooms. This was all exciting and the anticipation built with each trip to the local hardware utopias. I enjoy this sort of stuff. Some people find it relaxing to lounge on a beach, or swan about on a golf course. Not me. I find recreation in belting things with a hammer. I find it calming and relaxing, especially when I project all sorts of images just under the hammerhead where the nail should be. When you’re tied to a keyboard 24/7 labouring is both aerobic and therapeutic at the same time. A violent remedy.

I was ready for a break.

Unfortunately, the world was not ready for me to take a break as the week leading up just collapsed in a pile of confusion. The ‘week off’ was in doubt, which only served to make the time off more desirable. Even if it was going to be interrupted by a need to attend a few meetings.

And then Friday night arrived and things seemed to sort themselves out and I ‘slipped the chain’ and I was on my way. I was ready for a good time. I was ready to relax. I was full of anticipation and sadly full of a flu that was just hours for taking control of my body and my week off. Somewhere through the first two items on the list I fell in a heap.

A week of promise was lost in a haze of pseudoephedrine (Sneeze-Es slogan – Party on with a dry nose!).

So now I’m back at the keyboard feeling a little disappointed. I had oversold and, on delivery, I was depressed by my break. I felt like a failure.

Which, and children – here’s the moral of today’s story: positioning a product or service in the mind of any consumer can do the same. In an effort to get people on-board we can oversell. We can build things up too far. The danger being, we set ourselves up for failure.

So what can we do to market a product that doesn’t over-promise and under-whelm?

Firstly, we need to know our customers and find out what motivates them. We need to know what makes them tick. In this way we can quietly convince them. We can drop the hyperbole and rhetoric but find a core motivator. I should have sold the holiday to myself, not by what I could achieve, but for a change of scenery or a chance to do something different for a while.

Then it becomes a matter of benefit or promise. All this has to do with finding the higher-level emotional reason for customers to purchase. Then, even if I was in the middle of a coughing fit, at least it was a coughing fit outside in the fresh air, not an office. I was in a location of my choice. My optic focal length could have a rest from staring at the arms length computer screen to focusing on the clouds while I lay on my back recovering.

My problem was not disappointment with the way my week off went. I am just disappointed with the campaign I designed to sell it to myself in the first place.