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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Fake Bus Stop

According to a note at Kottke.org here, a nursing home in Germany has placed a fake bus stop out front, to capture wandering Alzheimer’s patients. These patients almost entirely lack short term memory, but retain enough long term memory to recognize a bus stop as the possibility to get back home. The idea sounds nice, and I hope that it works.

I mention the fake bus stop here because it calls to mind the idea of recognition. Not to liken customers to Alzheimer’s patients, but it is true that the customer’s needs should be foremost in marketing thinking.

For Alzheimer’s patients, the world no longer looks familiar. My father suffered dementia late in life, which from my lay perspective differs little from Alzheimer’s. For his last years of life, the home he lived in for 25 years no longer seemed familiar, and he wanted to go to his home on Fresh Pond Avenue. He had left that home a lifetime ago.

Product knowledge varies widely among customers. Some approach products with highly refined critical acumen. Others simply see the most expensive or the most renowned as the best choice for their needs. You can try to educate but you cannot force critical understanding on people.

Instead, rely on what your customers will recognize. If technical data fail to impress, accept that your customer must hear another approach.

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