“Air” heads

1 02 2008

Fall quarter has came and passed and, although I miss all of my good friends at the “Home of Homestyle,” I, along with my car, am thankful to be able to spend my time in Athens, Ohio and not on 33W to Columbus. The new quarter also means no “History of Rock and Roll” Class, which is again a sad statement, but does mean I can attend PRSSA meetings on Monday nights.

This latest meeting we had Jack Buchanan from B&A come and speak at our meeting. I was instantly reminded of why I pay $65 dollars a year to be in PRSSA. Jack brought some very interesting ideas to our meeting and one that really got me thinking.

We started talking about brands (as good little PR students do) and I asked a question about what to do if the actual product I’m bringing to the market isn’t that good. Jack replied “You need to figure out the value of the brand to the people who use it or will potentially use it.”

That sounds like a good answer and I nodded slightly to show that he had thrown me into deep marketing meditation, but it wasn’t until I was on my thinking chair at home that I realized what he was saying. The question isn’t “why do people want this product” it’s really “What does the product do for them?” These seem like the same basic questions at first, but their truly not.

I look at the new Macbook air that came out a few weeks ago and see the disconnect between the two questions.

Why do many people want it? Because it’s a Mac, and Mac has a great reputation for making great computers and delivering them to great customers, graciously. But what does it actually do for them? Other than being able to send it in their inner-office mail, I’d say, not too much. The fact of the matter is there is only one USB port on there and no cd-rom drive so once you throw in all the extra things you’ll need to get it to do what you want, you’ll need more of a suitcase to carry it, than an envelope.

Why does this happen? Well Jack answered that question for me too. When I asked him about the product that wasn’t that great, I would say:

“I probably wouldn’t use it.”

Jack finally replied “Who cares about you? Go to the Market!”

I realized the question isn’t “what would I do?” or “What are we able to do?” It’s “What is useful?” and “How will this make my life easier.

At times it seems like elementary thoughts, but the practice of them seems rare… at least to me.

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