How To Make Someone Fall For You
Brand owners are good at making an initial hit with
consumers, but lousy at forming deeper relationships,
says Simon Silvester. If the brand can develop a sense
of community with users, they’ll come back for more.
Jenny is sitting at a table in a cafe.
Her eyes catch those of a good-looking man sitting in the corner. The man comes over.
“Hi my name’s Dave, and I’ve got a really expensive car.”
“Well, hi Dave, I’m Jenny, it’s good to meet you,” says Jenny. “Do you come to this cafe often?”
“My name’s Dave…,” says Dave, enunciating the word carefully.
“Well that’s good to know. Do you live around here?”
Dave smiles sweetly. “I’ve got a really expensive car.”
“You’ve already said that,” says Jenny. “Tell me something else so that we can get to know
each other better.”
“OK,” says Dave. “What’s your full name, your address and how old are you?” he asks.
“That’s a bit personal,” replies Jenny. “But my full name is Jenny Bond, and I live across the
park. I’ll be 32 on Friday.”
“That’s fine,” Says Dave. “Do you like going to the movies, the theatre, bars or opera?”
“I like evenings in front of a log fire!” says Jenny. “Now tell me about you!”
“I’ve got to go,” says Dave. “I’ll be back.”
At the end of the week, Dave is back.
“Hi Dave!” says Jenny. “How’s your car?”
“Hi,” says Dave. “My name’s Dave and I’ve got an expensive three litre car. It’s good that we
now have a relationship.”
“Relationship!” says Jenny. “You keep on going on about your car, you’ve asked me all these
intrusive questions, and yet I know nothing about you.”
“And,” she continues, “you’ve forgotten it’s my birthday today!”
“But my name’s Dave,” says Dave, puzzled. “And I’ve got an expensive three litre car.”Where did Dave go wrong?
Though Jenny was telling Dave things about
herself, he wasn’t using any of that information.
And when she asked him about himself, he
Dave was talking at her, not to her. Jenny
felt Dave wasn’t treating her as a human being.
To understand the problem more deeply, we
can analyse Jenny’s experience of Dave in
terms of three components, his performance,
his treatment of her and the sense of community
he builds up between them.
means Dave’s ability to meet
Jenny’s needs on first meeting her. He does this
well. Jenny likes confident, good-looking men;
and though she’d never admit it to him, she
finds flash cars a bit of a turn on.
is Dave’s ability to make her feel she
knows him, and to reflect that back to him. Here,
he’s failed. He shows no recognition of their first
meeting; he’s even forgotten her birthday.
means Dave’s ability to make
Jenny feel part of something, perhaps through
finding interests or friends they have in common.
Here too he has failed.
Jenny ought to be thinking what it would be
like being a couple with Dave, perhaps imagining
snuggling up with him in front of a log fire. But
she isn’t thinking anything of the sort.
However good looking Dave is, and
however expensive his car, Dave has failed to
connect with Jenny as a human being, and
therefore Jenny has developed no desire to get
involved with him.
As a result, despite his two meetings with
her, Jenny may say hello to him next time he
comes to the cafe, but no way is she going to
But how is Dave doing in classic
The funny thing is that by the classic rules
of marketing, Dave is doing pretty well with
Jenny. A classic marketer would tell Dave that
Achieved spontaneous recall of his name.
Effectively communicated his core value
proposition of owning an expensive car.
Built up a good bank of relationship data
from her, with her full opt-in consent.
Achieved his key behavioural objective, of
moving from the trial date into a repeat
And indeed when we look at classic consumer
brands, many act just like Dave:
Ariel spends most of its marketing
budget telling people that it’s called
ARIEL and it REMOVES STAINS
BETTER, despite the fact that
everyone already knows this.
- Panasonic spends most of its marketing
budget telling people that it’s called
PANASONIC and it makes INNOVATIVE
ELECTRONICS, despite the fact that
everyone has known that for years.
- Other brands try relationship marketing,
or ‘CRM’ as it’s known. They collect your
name, address, date of birth, phone, fax
and mobile number, e-mail address,
marital status, personal and household
income level and number of children – but
then rarely use any of these facts to build a
relationship with you.
All of this sets up a fundamental problem with
This is a problem of today
It’s very good at getting people to try
something in the first place. It’s good at
creating new, light users, or getting your
brand into a consumer’s repertoire of
- But it’s pretty awful at getting someone
who has already tried and likes something
to develop a deeper relationship with it.
This wasn’t so much a problem in the 1950s
when the term marketing was invented,
because societies were full of young people
trying things for the first time.
But today, when the average age of people
in industrialised nations is approaching 40,
there are far fewer young people reaching
adulthood in need of advice about which new
products to try.
On the other hand, there are many more
adults of age 25 and older, who have been
using products and services in those markets
If you want to affect brand shares, you need
to talk to those adults.
They already know your name and what
your promise is.
Now you must get your brand more deeply
involved with them.
If we are looking for involvement with our
consumers, the first thing we marketers have
to do is to change our mentality. When we
talk about marketing, we talk in pseudomilitary
terms about impacts, persuasion,
awareness, share of voice. We have a one-way
conversation with consumers, treating them
like territory to be conquered, rather than as
We need to change to an involvement
We must learn to respect consumers as
human beings, listening to and valuing
- We must learn that in the relationship, we
both have power, and a good relationship
involves sharing that power.
- We must move away from a one-way
process, to a joint, collaborative process.
If we accept all of this, the brand stops being
something that we tell them about. The brand
is the sum total of their experience of us. It sits
in their heads, not in our PowerPoint™
presentations. And it is ours to influence – but
not simply to change.
Then we must measure what matters
Classic marketing judged Dave’s actions as
good because he did well at getting his name
and value proposition across, and at extracting
information from Jenny.
If we want to judge our success from this
new point of view, we need to invent some new
parameters, and check out how consumers feel
brands score against them. With this in mind,
Wunderman has looked at the three
components of experience – performance,
treatment and community, and measured them
for thousands of brands across the world.
For performance, Wunderman asked whether
- meets my needs completely
- is the best option available
- is the sort of brand I’d recommend to a friend
- is high performance
- is unique
For treatment, we asked whether the brand:
adapts to my needs
goes out of its way for me
cares about its customers
wants my business
resolves conflict well
For community we asked whether the brand’s
Are these the right questions?
feels like they belong in a club with other users
identifies with other users of the brand
We knew that we had asked the right questions,
because when we looked at occasional, disloyal
users of brands, we found that whilst they
might achieve good levels of performance, they
scored low on treatment and community.
On the other hand, when we looked at core
loyal users of brands – people who love the
brand and say they would miss it if it went
away – they gave us much stronger levels of
treatment and community as well as a good
level of performance.
In the jargon, the core users are highly
prized ‘Level 3’ loyalists, who are likely to
believe the brand is worth a premium, and who
account for the bulk of the brand’s volume.
Improving a brand’s treatment of consumers
and building up a sense of community with
them, therefore, translates directly into sales.
How to Make Someone
Fall for You
Download the full document (pdf)
This article originally appeared in volume 10 of WPP's Atticus Journal.