When I saw this photo from the Slate blog, I couldn’t help but to think of it from a marketing perspective. That’s because there are always at least two perspectives for any marketing initiative –yours and your customers. Plus, if you’ve got more than one target customer, think of it like a group hug. Get a shot from every angle!

Barack Obama and Michelle's Alternate View Victory Hugs

In this instance, President Barack Obama’s facial expression matched Michelle’s.  Fantastic right, but what if the emotions were opposites?   What if something that really made sense for you from a business perspective was exactly the wrong thing for your customers?  How many times does this happen?   It probably happens more than you think.

The first thing that comes to my mind is the Netflix disaster that happened about a year ago.  Netflix thought that because they dominated the market, they could impose a rate increase that they knew their customers wouldn’t like.  In that instance, what started out as a smile on one side and a frown on the other became two frowns!  Or how about the Applebee’s announcement about the hiring freeze due to Obamacare — wonder how that will turn out???

That’s because win-lose often ultimately results in lose-lose.  And with digital media being what it is, lose-lose is more like LOSE-LOSE! Clearly win-win is the best scenario. Be sure that when you implement a new initiative you end up with a smile on both sides of the table.  How do you accomplish that?  Well here are a few things you could do to dip you toe in the water before jumping in.

  • Market Research – One of the best ways to find out if your customer base will be receptive to a proposed change is to do some market research.  If your budget doesn’t allow for a formal quantitative study, qualitative work may provide an option.  At a minimum, conducting a few customer interviews yourself could point out some things you may have missed.
  • Scenario Planning – Some internal brainstorming around possible resulting scenarios could shed more light on the situation.  It could be that the chances of an adverse outcome could be fairly high, and in that case, you’ll want to know the financial impact on your business.
  • Test Markets or Phased Roll-outs – If the situation allows, you may want to roll-out a new initiative in phases.  This will allow you to get a sense of how your customer base responds to a given initiative without a full blown launch.

So…..keep this picture in mind next time you get ready to jump into a new initiative.  Make sure everybody’s happy, or at least make sure you’re informed about who won’t be smiling.