How a Beagle Finds a Bone

My dog, Roger, is a gray-haired, arthritis-ridden, one-eyed beagle/basset.

If you throw a dog treat to him across the kitchen floor, he sometimes has a hard time finding it.

But if I throw the same bite-sized biscuit from my second-floor deck into a foot of snow, he methodically (and jubilantly) sniffs it out every time.

Watching him “hunt” yesterday—those are his serpentine snow tracks in the photo above—it reminded me of the most important lesson in marketing I re-learned this decade:

Great marketing is all about understanding the convoluted way that people think, behave and make buying decisions, not about trumpeting unique selling propositions.

As you turn the calendar page on a new year, make this resolution: Spend more time and money researching what really makes your customers tick—and what influences their behaviors—rather than simply whiteboarding their “needs” and “challenges.”

If you dig long and hard enough—like my dog, Roger—you’ll find an insight upon which you can build a genuinely brilliant product or campaign.