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Posts Tagged ‘audience research’

Death of A Pitch: Lessons From Mickey Mouse Man

Monday, February 22nd, 2010


‘Creativity is my middle name!’

Researching your audience is probably the most important element of your presentation. Doom awaits those who neglect this.

Over the weekend I had dinner with another school parent, a man who built a sizable fortune from selling domestic appliances. Let’s call him Jim.

He did it with decades of krazy, come-on-down, low budget TV advertising, low on touchy-feely branding and very high on outlandish product demonstrations, blazing a trail followed years later by the excellent Blendtec campaign.

Jim starred in every ad himself, thus saving a heap on actors which could be passed on to the customer in the form of Crazy Low Prices.

Through sheer consistency, he grew it into the colossus of its category, with several hundred stores.

In person, Jim is polite, well spoken and charming - the complete opposite of his wacky TV persona. He particularly enjoys taking calls from people calling to complain about the ads.

One day he took a call from an ad agency.

“We love your brand,” they said. “Great product, great strategy, all great. Except that guy you’re using on the TV commercials. He’s pretty bad, and it’s really holding your brand back. Can we come in and present some exciting new directions for your ads?”

“That would be excellent.” said Jim.

On the appointed day, they turn up excited. All cliche boxes are ticked. Creative director in a Mickey Mouse t-shirt and suit jacket. Some slick account men. An easel full of storyboards. Many, many hours of preparation.

Jim walks out into reception and greets them cheerily. The blood drains from their faces as they contemplate the monumental scale of their blunder.

Like a laboratory frog, the dead presentation twitched on the boardroom table for 15 dreadful minutes before they packed up their easel and ran away.

It was one of the most enjoyable meetings of Jim’s career.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s an audience of one or a thousand. The worst presentations are always the ones that seem to have been prepared for a completely different audience, because they have. Not making the effort to understand your audience before you haul out your standard template presentation shows a basic lack of manners and they will punish you for it.

And don’t wear a Mickey Mouse t-shirt either.