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One-size-fits-all doesn’t work for happiness (or marketing)

One-size-fits-all doesn't work for cereal or marketing

One-size-fits-all doesn’t work for cereal or marketing

Cruising one of my fave websites  looking for blog fodder I noticed that their most viewed article is titled “9 Daily Habits That Will Make You Happier”. That’s nice isn’t it? We all just want to be happy.

And we do. It’s true. Reading the list, however, I realised that many of those habits wouldn’t necessarily make me happier. I’m not saying it won’t work for many people, I’m just saying they wouldn’t work for me.

The one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work for happiness, just as it doesn’t work for marketing.

See, the author of that article doesn’t know me and doesn’t know what makes me happy. Nor do the people who try to sell me stuff much of the time.

There’s a catch cry in our house when we see poorly-executed TV adverts “well, I’m not in the target audience”. And I’m not, much of the time.

Some of the time however, I am. Being a 30-something mum who is the “main grocery buyer” in my household some of the time I am the exact person TV ads are trying to entice: they want me to go into their store, jump on their website, like them on Facebook or enter their competition (so they can add me to their database).

Ultimately they want me to BUY BUY BUY! Or ENGAGE ENGAGE ENGAGE!

Many ads guilt me into thinking that my house is full of germs, my child will definitely love their breakfast cereal (they don’t know my child either) and of course that 7-seater family wagon is just as stylish as the latest sports car – I really really won’t notice the difference – JUST GO OUT AND BUY IT!

But I will know the difference, the advertisers know that and I know that.

Much has been written about mumvertising – or momvertising for my American friends 🙂 – and quite frankly, now I’m a mum I find it extremely patronising.

I know that two of the main emotional driving factors for advertising are guilt and fear. Yes, they’re trying to play us mums like fools (who you calling fool?). Mother guilt is one of the strongest energies on earth and advertisers know that and they love it.

So this is a call to all mums to stop watching and listening to the mumvertising and boycott the products that make you feel guilty when you see their ads. Be it a twinge of guilt or a fleeting moment of panic, just stop. Stop and think. Will my or my family’s life really be improved by that product? Most of the time the answer is “no”.

No, we are not (much of the time) bad mums. Our children are not germ-ridden little beasties who crave the sugary goodness of flavoured milk, protein-enriched, high-sugar cereals nor will my child feel utterly neglected if I don’t buy them the latest technology in Nerf™.

Please, when you next approach your own business’ advertising campaign think, really think, about your target audience.

Stereotyping is one of the main tools in the advertiser’s arsenal but empathy should go along with those stereotypes.

Put yourself into your ideal customer’s shoes and think about how they feel when making a purchasing decision. Will they feel happy, relieved and that they’ve found the solution to their real problem?

They should feel anything but guilt or fear. They’re terribly negative emotions to associate with your product.

I know I’m going against the advertiser’s creed and it’s rare you get a rant piece from me but I felt it’s time (especially at Christmas, that wonderful, self-doubting time of year) to stand up for myself and all the mums affected by mumvertising. (Say it sister!)

When was the last time you bought something out of fear or guilt?

[And please, don’t get me (or my Nan) started on funeral insurance ads!]


About Jane McKay @janemckaycomms

I’m Jane. I write. I design. I create. In 2009, following a tree-change to sunny East Gippsland, I realised a dream and started my own business through which I have freelanced my marketing services ever since. I understand that marketing your business can be overwhelming, overcomplicated and often overlooked. That’s why I’m here. With a range of expertise built on a Masters in Media and Communications and derived from more than 8 years’ industry experience working with small companies as well as large multi-nationals, I help businesses grow. A creative soul with a strong geek side, I combine my love of wordsmithing with an interest in all things design- and tech-related.The perfect combination of skills for my career in creative marketing.


3 thoughts on “One-size-fits-all doesn’t work for happiness (or marketing)

  1. Reblogged this on The View From My Washing Line and commented:

    This is from my marketing blog but definitely relevant to this blog too.

    Posted by Jane McKay @janemckaycomms | December 10, 2012, 12:20 pm
  2. You are quite right about that. One size fits all is a sloppy way to try to convince people to purchase your product.

    Posted by TheJackB | December 11, 2012, 11:39 am

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