We may not be aware of it, but we’re sending and receiving signals all the time. These signals help us with understanding the world around us and making decisions. As marketers then, we not only want to become more aware of these signals but also want to be more intentional about the kind of signals we send out.
While my family was staying in a beachy suburb of South Fremantle, we stopped by a seaside cafe for breakfast. There were plastic laminated menus containing prawn twisters (the kind that comes frozen in a pack) and an all-day breakfast that included complimentary butter in tiny sealed plastic packets (which was icy cold), and baked beans (from a tin) in a paper cup. I wasn’t very impressed. Anyone reading this may think that I’m being a snob. Perhaps I am. I enjoyed that breakfast nonetheless. That said, we won’t be going back to that cafe.
The signals we got there were very loud and clear. The story they were telling us with those signals was, for the sake of efficiency:
- We would rather not change our menu to provide you with seasonal / local produce
- We don’t care about the environment very much so we’re happy to use paper cups and plastic in place for ceramic dishes.
It’s very possible that the restaurant owner is not at all aware of the signals being sent. It’s not like lots of people are going to criticise him (or her) for that. But marketers who care would take careful steps to give us what we perhaps didn’t particularly ask for. They are generous enough and empathetic enough to cater to our hidden needs.
My need for more sustainable and considered consumption was challenged by the cafe’s choices of processed food and the sight of unnecessary plastic being used.
That little incident reminded me of checking in with the kind of signals I’ve been sending out. Perhaps it’s time for a bit of calibration.
What kind of signals have you been sending out lately?