by Gian Luigi Longinotti-Buitoni, 1990, 335 pages, $25.00, ISBN 0-684-85019-2. Published by Simon & Schuster.
The inventor or entrepreneur with a new product has realized one dream -- that of creating and bringing a product to market. However, their creativity must then meet one of the greatest challenges known -- that of convincing customers that their product fulfills the customer's dreams and desires.
You may, at first, question in your mind how looking into the successful methods of companies selling luxury products, such as Ferraris, Ferragamo shoes, and Feadship yachts can be of value to you in your efforts to sell a humble widget. But as the author points out, the world's economy has entered a new phase. It has gone from a supply-driven economy to a demand-driven economy. In just a few years, the Internet has made it possible for your potential customers to compare your widget with similar ones or alternate products worldwide.
Consider the world's three most recognized brands -- Coca-Cola, IBM, and Ferrari -- and note that Ferrari achieved their high rank with virtually no advertising! Note also a company, General Motors, who can probably hire the entire graduating class of the Harvard Business School -- "through prudent management, GM has suffered no flops over the past twenty years, yet it has seen its market share halved".
The author stresses, over and over, the difference between a customer and a consumer and that the goal is "to transform consumers into customers". He puts down market studies and emphasizes "creators, designers, craftsman, and engineers" and their ability to create and sell dreams by use of their "gut feeling" and by "Intuition, perception, improvisation and unstructured research...".
He points out the subtle, but vital, importance of distinguishing your product rather than just differentiating your product. He analyzes the complex motivations of customers into three fundamental dreams -- social recognition, freedom and heroism. These apply whether you are selling a movie, a wine, a sporting event, a Gulfstream jet, a glamorous magazine or a widget.
If you again think this applies only to luxury products, note the success of HOG (Harley Owners Group), a club created by Harley-Davidson, the motorcycle company. In ten years it grew to 200,000 members (free the first year, $35 annually thereafter) -- proving you can market a common mechanical product using emotion. The author suggests that "Dreams are born of our irrational side, where passion tends to prevail over reason".
He offers the word "dreamketer" for those who create the perception of added value in customer's minds. Many resist the use of sexy and provocative advertising, yet when actress Sharon Stone introduced a new model Ferrari with the line "It is all right to be fast. Only don't be cheap". It sold for over 170% of sticker price.
There are many thought provoking ideas concerning human nature to be found in this book. For example, a footnote mentions that we "can feel an experience in a time period as short as a tenth of a second". He suggests that if we could cut this to "one hundredth of a second, it would be like... an average life span of eight hundred years".
The author notes "Dreams need not be expensive. They just require a wealth of creativity, a resource every company can grow". He summarizes into seven steps what you can do to capture your customer's dreams. These include correctly interpreting the spirit of the time, conveying intense emotion, keeping a brand exceptional, choosing customers, supporting creators, and how to create the perception of added value.
Dreams are often dismissed as fluff, but this author convincingly makes the case for understanding the customer's dreams. Companies that do it enjoy long term financial success.