Whenever I speak to business people, start ups or about marketing in general, I almost always come to the point of the presentation where I remind everyone of this one, fundamental truth: people care more about their shit than yours. So much so, I have one particular person who books me to speak, who always asks in advance “Will you be doing the ‘give a shit’ pie chart?”
It sounds obvious, but time and time again I work with businesses who think their shit is important. (You’ll notice the orange ‘Your Shit’ section of this pie chart doesn’t take up a lot of space!) Their supply chain, their goals, their budgets, their back end processes, their ideas… and completely overlook the fact none of that matters at all to customers. Not even one little bit.
Which is somewhat understandable, because like them, what we give a shit about, is our own shit. The difference is, as brands and businesses, our job is to set that aside, and talk about the shit that matters. To them, not us.
There’s a very good reason we don’t see ads pitching “please buy this car so I can make budget this month and pay my mortgage” and instead, usually see inspirational pictures of people leaving their worries behind, driving off into the sunset.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a few notable exceptions where people care about shared vision, shared impact and shared goals. It’s why social entrepreneurship is seeing such a surge right now.
But what customers don’t care about, never have, and never will, is your shit. They just don’t. And why should they? As the old, but still very true, advertising adage goes, “Don’t tell me what’s in it, tell me what’s in it for me”.
And don’t get too smug just yet and try to convince me people want to know about “what’s in it” things like palm oil. Yes, that’s partly true. But only in so much as it’s related to what’s important to them. Like not killing orangutans. Quite why that’s not important to everyone is a bit beyond me, but that’s a subject for another day.
For now, if you want your business to really sing, focus your messaging on the things your customers give a shit about. And if you don’t know, for crying out loud start asking them.