Marketing to co-creators: a customer support super power

I first came across the story of the V&A's slogan in Paul Arden's book, Whatever You Think, Think The Opposite. It's stayed with me ever since, as an example of deep customer centricity. Here's a 2-minute video about the campaign, with AMAZING 1980s fashion:

An ace caff with quite a nice museum attached

As Paul Arden writes, "In a museum, the first question is 'Where is the loo?' The second is 'Where is the café?' A cup of coffee and a slice of cake can be more of a draw than the entire collection of the V&A."

All of a sudden, the slogan no longer appears to be so off-beat. It demonstrates a profound understanding of visitors' needs and desires, and the courage to be explicit about the V&A meeting them.

What's your café?

In any business, it makes sense to explore customers' true needs and desires. Find ways to be explicit about them, and build your support accordingly.

  • If you're a gin distillery, perhaps your customers want to explore new flavours. Perhaps they want to appear knowledgable, and part of an exclusive group of connoisseurs. 
  • If you're an artisan coffee roaster, your customers might want to learn how to brew the best coffee from your beans. They might even want to know about different types of milk and how to froth them.
  • And if you're in DIY fashion, some of your customers may want to learn new techniques. Others may buy your materials and patterns to stand out from the crowd.
    How can you reassure the novice and stretch the imagination of more experienced makers at the same time?

User research can help you find out about these things. How to use surveys and interviews for that purpose is a topic for another post though.

From 'consumers' to 'co-creators'

The more you accentuate your customers' needs and how you meet them, the more your support becomes its own marketing channel. At the same time, you'll empower your customers — they're no longer 'consumers', they become co-creators. They get to shape your products, your services and your business, making you more successful.

Traditional 'consumer service' language won't be able to engage co-creators — you'll want to be at eye level, sharing expertise like a knowledgeable friend. It's not always easy to hit the right tone, but it's worth refining your writing until it connects with your audience.

Over to you

What's your café? And how do you invite people in?