When we set out to solve marketing problems, we often try modeling, as in “how would another brand solve the problem?” More often than not, I think we use sexy brands–Apple, Nike, Starbucks and so forth–because they usually get their marketing right.
However, I suggest that you stop thinking about what’s sexy. After all, most marketers don’t have the resources of these brands nor can they always take the big risks that those brands have taken.
So, instead of sex, try toilets.
As in, ask yourself, “what would we do if we were trying to sell toilets instead of our brand/product?” Turning your strategy exercise into an exercise of selling toilets has three key advantages:
1. Toilets have clear use cases.
Starbucks handles your quick coffee fix, of course, but it also offers meeting space, a place to schedule a low-stakes date or a place to get free wifi. Nike sells shoes, fitness trackers and baseball gloves. Apple devices, of course, have countless uses. As a result, the hypothetical marketing exercise gets bogged down because the strategist must think of which aspect of the product he or she is marketing.
Toilets, on the other hand, have a very clear set of uses. Everyone understands them pretty well. When imagining marketing scenarios, marketers don’t have to spend any time answering the question “why would anyone want a toilet?”
2. Toilets fit a variety of audiences.
Consumers buy toilets, which makes them a B2C proposition. Businesses buy toilets, which makes them a B2B proposition. Similarly, governments buy toilets (B2G) and businesses such as contractors and interior designers buy toilets for consumers (B2B2C).
In short, no matter what kind of audiences you sell to, toilets offer a good means of comparison.
3. Toilets keep you grounded.
Let’s face it: you can’t get too highfalutin when discussing commodes. The product has no innate romance to it. Although toilets actually represent one of humanity’s greatest technological advances, they don’t occur to anyone as a technology product.
Using toilets as a marketing example forces the marketer to think in the simplest terms of benefits and value rather than as part of some kinetic brand landscape. Going back to fundamentals, I’ve found, often untangles some very intractable problems. First simplify, then make it as complex as need be.
Now, someone please get me a meeting with American Standard.