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“Passion is the Great Persuader” – Q&A with Tom Asacker, Part 2

This is Part 2 of my special conversation with branding guru and author Tom Asacker. If you missed Part 1 go here.


Watch the complete Q&A here, or skip to Part 2 of the abbreviated transcript below.

If consumer desire precedes interest, how does the marketer effectively tap in to those desires?

Well you can only move people slowly. You start with what peoples’ beliefs and desires are today. You viscerally understand what those are, then you move them slowly along a path to a destination that maybe they don’t even fully understand or are aware of.

Steve Jobs didn’t say “let me go out and ask people if they want a phone without a keypad,” but he was so deeply involved in that industry and the technology, he knew how to bring people along.

Now you notice it was still a phone, something you hold in your hand. It wasn’t something you just stick in your ear because that might have been moving people too quickly. You have to start with what people believe and desire right now as your basis for where you move them.

That was the big mistake that JC Penney made. They tried to move people too quickly from what they desired and believed right now and immediately take them to the end destination. There was no path to belief, and that’s why they failed.

The first question to ask is “Are these the customers we want to serve, and can we be profitable serving them?”

So if the organization can be happy and profitable servicing the customer and that’s what the customer wants, then why was JC Penney trying to move them to a different path?

It would be like all of a sudden tomorrow Macy’s saying no more coupons, no more circulars. Why would they do that?

Consumers are not stupid. Consumers say “Okay, I feel good. I got a coupon. I just saved some money. That makes me feel good.” So why take that feeling away if you can be profitable at it?

How does the brand, the marketer, design belief?

First you have to discover it. Insights are what drive all businesses forward.

Now you may say, look, my customers are loyal to me and they’re not jumping away. But consumers are on autopilot most of the time. The only reason people are not drawn away from you is because they haven’t been enticed by something more desirable. As soon as they are, they will jump.

Look at the industries that are being destroyed in the business world. Why? Because once consumers saw this thing that was much more desirable and some competitor brought that to life, they said, “Okay I’m going that direction now. That is what I want.”

To imagine that consumers will not move away to this new desire, that’s just very shortsighted. You’re putting your head in a hole because you don’t want to see what’s happening right in front of your eyes.

Again, you don’t want to believe because you don’t desire to believe. You don’t want to see the future because you don’t desire the change that may be occurring.

Where does passion come into this mix; passion on the part of the person who creates the new product, not just the person who’s intending to consume it?

Passion is one of the greatest persuaders in existence.

To move people to believe you’ve got to exude passion in everything you do. Consumers can sense whether you’re excited about what you’re offering – and not just through your words, but through your design, through your offers, through your advertising.

They can sense passion, and that moves them because they’re evaluating what you do against a broad range of choices today. If you’re competing against competitive options, then you’ve got to bring what you’re making to life, and passion is how you do it.

When I say passion, I’m not talking charisma. I’m not talking being boisterous and loud. I’m talking about doing things that say, “I believe in this that much.”

What’s interesting to me is that most people today are talking and writing about what’s changing, but success in the marketplace is not about what’s changing. It’s about what doesn’t change: That’s how people think and make decisions, how they behave, how they choose.

Mark, how many business people do you know, smart business people who don’t know what the Internet is, what social media is, what mobile technology is? They all know what it is, they’re aware of it and they understand it. So why don’t more of them believe in moving forward with what’s changing?

If we want people to change their behavior, we need to understand why they don’t desire, why they don’t believe. Because they sure as heck are aware of and understand everything that’s changing in the marketplace.

Missed Part 1 of my conversation with Tom? Find it here.

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