I wrote this post originally for LinkedIn’s marketing and advertising section
Every potential customer you market to has a unique worldview, which is a set of biases, values and beliefs, that is influenced by their parents, their schools, the places they lived and the experiences they’ve had.
These worldviews become the lens through which consumers use to determine which politicians they vote for, how they interpret and interact with the world, and even what products they choose to buy.
As a marketer, you have to be able to understand the worldview of your audience and align that worldview with your message. When you do this and you’re able to confirm someone’s worldview, they’ll become a buying customer. If your message is framed in a way that conflicts with their worldview, your message will always be ignored.
Consumers align with businesses and brands that reaffirm, not attack, their worldviews.
It doesn’t really matter how great your product is if you don’t understand the worldview of the audience you’re trying to market to. If you aren’t able to tell your story in a way that aligns with people’s worldview then you’ll never be able to persuade anyone to become a buying customer.
If you sell chocolate for example and you try to market to people who have a worldview that “Hershey’s chocolate is the best chocolate,” then no matter what you try to do, you will always have a very difficult time converting these people into buying customers.
In the same way that Republican candidates will always have difficulty marketing their ideas to Democratic voters, and vice versa. The difficulty politicians face with marketing to people with a different political affiliation is not an issue of who is right or better, but an issue of worldviews. Different people have different worldviews. This is why two intelligent people can see the same data on the same politician and yet make totally different decisions.
This is why marketers who are able to frame their product around a particular worldview are the products that sell.
What does successful brand alignment look like?
Marketing requires empathy because it’s about truly understanding how your audience views things and relating that view back to them through your messaging. This is something the jewelry company Shaw’s did well by first understanding that each consumer has an individual worldview.
One of their marketing successes stemmed from their ability to group consumers into segments, with different emotional needs, and targeting them with precision. For instance, the jewelry company was able to boost their sales by creating two versions of its brochure: one for people who had the worldview of an optimist, and the other for people who had the worldview of a pessimist.
The optimists were marketed with lines like, “I walk out of the store feeling great,” while the pessimists got reassurance with lines like, “Jewelry with a classic look.”
By learning to identify these two different worldviews in consumers, Shaw’s was able to drive purchases by marketing towards each of them with specific messaging. Once Shaw’s understood the importance of marketing to worldviews, they were able to figure out what to say, how to say it, and who to say it to.
This means that if you have a product to sell or an idea to spread, you shouldn’t be trying to change the worldviews of those who don’t agree with you. Instead, you should identify a group of people with a worldview that aligns with your worldview and sell to them.
Using facts and figures or features and benefits to try to prove your case will rarely ever move people into action. In marketing, politics and business, it’s the worldview that people hold and the story that fits that worldview that you choose to tell them that ultimately drives human behavior.