Jennifer Bélissent [Posted by Jennifer Bélissent]

Adapting marketing messages to specific audiences is a topic I’ve written on here and in a few of my Forrester reports.  Getting the messages right requires an understanding of the drivers and motivations of buyers.  And, going into new geographical markets means that you’ll need local knowledge; you can’t assume that you know what will resonate in a particular market.  Recently I came across an example that illustrates the point in The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World, by Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder and CEO of Acumen Fund.

In 2002, Acumen Fund began investing in the production and distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets in Tanzania.  While initial investment enabled increased production, and subsequent grants hAcumen_bednetselped distribute the nets to at-risk groups, the Acumen Fund's mission is to promote social entrepreneurship primarily through market mechanisms.  They wanted to extend distribution beyond give-aways so that nets would be available to everyone.  So, they worked to kick-start a distribution network of sales women who sold door-to-door and at "parties" similar to Tupperware or the Avon lady… I've digressed but only to establish context.

One woman particularly successful at selling nets demonstrated that she truly understood her audience.  Rather than pitching the nets through public health messages, she appealed to what she knew would really motivate her potential buyers.  Rather than "must" or "should" and details of health improvements, she focused on beauty, vanity, status, and comfort:  the nets got rid of insects buzzing in your ears and made it easier to get a full night sleep; with more sleep the children would do better in school; the nets are colorful and decorate the house; and when neighbors see them they will be impressed with how well you are caring for your family.

The example is bed nets in Africa but the lesson applies to any product or market.  Knowing what keeps your potential customers up at night — whether it's mosquitoes or cost or competition — is key to crafting the right messages.

[Cross posted from B2B Beyond Borders]