I’ve seen a lot of bad marketing that includes lackluster content, boring delivery, and poor use of media. But the one thing that unnerves me the most, and the error that I find most egregious, is when a brand focuses entirely on its own story and fails to acknowledge a customer need.

Plain and simple, you could have the best widget on the market, but if you can’t properly bring it to your audience (or convince them why they need it) you have failed as a marketer. Let’s say that for this particular widget, you have perfect pricing, a beautifully segmented target audience, and an impeccable distribution channel. You decide to run a cross-channel campaign and focus on the following product and brand features:

  • 100 gigaflex doodad
  • 700 hours of battery life
  • Internet access all of the time
  • Your company is a sustainable brand
  • Your company was founded by Dinkleburg Megathorpe, who is a very smart person

Your campaign doesn’t do as well as you thought it would, and you wonder why you didn’t sell as many widgets as you had hoped. After all, your pricing, target demographic, and distribution channels were superb. Three out of four Ps of marketing ain’t bad, right?

What happened? Well, you made it about yourself, and it’s not about you. Anyone can offer me a product with a 100 gigaflex doodad and 700 hours of battery life. Continuous internet access is pretty cool, but what does it mean for me in the grand scheme of things? And why should I care that your brand is sustainable or that Dinkleburg Megathorpe is your founder?

If you wanted to have a more successful campaign, you should have focused on prospective customers’ needs and wants. By doing so, you make the buying process easier and make a case for your product. While I don’t care about all of the features you listed in your previous campaign, you would certainly get my attention if you told me that by using your widget I would be able to become 30% more efficient, learn new things, and use your product anywhere in the world. If you also told me that the product is made using sustainable practices that do not harm the environment and that your founder has decided to donate a portion of the widget’s profits to charity, I would also be more inclined to purchase your device.

In this second campaign, your product’s features provide me with a benefit, and because I am a self-centered customer, I am enthralled with the prospect of improving my life in some way. By crafting a story around your product, you are also able to turn a bland campaign into a relatable anecdote that can give your promotion legs as people begin to identify with and share it with their friends. Once you shift the focus away from yourself, you will see your campaigns become more successful and you’ll be able to harvest better data from your target customers.