The secret the tortoise tells us

There is much talk about being different in the advertising industry. You might consult an advertiser who will probably suggest that you ride on the thing that sets you apart from your competition while setting in motion an updating of your image. You will revamp your storefront and your logo and run an impressive advertising campaign. As part of the process, it will be expected that you’ll be specific about what it is that differentiates you from your competition. But to your amazement, you’ll realize that you and your competition are very much alike, simply because you belong to the same family. You can’t alter your genetics. And each of you is the best, naturally. Do you need to be different to stand out?

McDonald’s does not make the best burgers nor does the Giant make especially original burgers. What McDonald knows how to do, like all the big fast-food chains, is to target an audience and speak its language. A language is the message that your words, your imagery and your horizon convey. There was a time when it was believed that the public at large was the audience. This has never really been true, much less today. We’ve all had a sip of soda pop, but we do not all drink Coca Cola. Coca Cola targets those who drink coca and those who are likely to drink it. A business succeeds by understanding its audience intimately and by using that understanding effectively. Coca Cola lost contact the year it launched New Coke. The audience turned a cold shoulder. This happened to Charles Aznavour with a new version of one of his old classics. Being different failed them and their public.

To match your message with the way your audience views things is key. Your message must integrate the motivations, hopes, fears and desires of your targeted audience in order to match its basic expectations and then exceed them. You must find a way to connect with the emotional life of your clients and stimulate desire while maintaining credibility. You will have established your credibility by meeting a need (think pleasure!), offering a solution and bringing a benefit to improve the life of your customer, all the while honouring his world view.

You will stay true to yourself and to your public, just like the tortoise did, with a content that reflects who you are so your public gets to know, like and trust you enough to do business with you.