What Do Customers Want?

All my work life I’ve been involved in promotions one way or another, first as a sign builder, later as a screen printer working exclusively for the entertainment market, and now as a web designer and editor of a tourism related magazine.

The scuba diving industry as well as many others (including the hospitality business) are suffering from a lack of perspective. There is a difference in traditional marketing and web marketing that has not been understood. Due to lack of space or time because of their high costs, traditional advertising is aimed mostly to deliver the image of a product company or service. The web has brought something not yet understood, it breaks those boundaries.

For instance, hotel web sites are aimed to advertise the grandeur of their facilities mostly, but there is little information about the quality of services, how they are rendered to the customer, requirements for use of facilities or services, prices of these if they are not part of the package etc. Information – that’s what the customer wants.

Most scuba sites I have visited aim their information on how good their services are, but not why they are so good; they use many generic words to describe the key places to visit but not why they are so beautiful or unique – like magazine or critical reviews do.

Using this term for both will apply: “Providing information as a salesman is not the answer”, doing it as a magazine or critic’s review will be the real benefits. We have to remember that the Internet is based on providing information, we have to provide the most ample and thoughtful content. Costs are not a limitation to it, compared to traditional marketing where you pay in terms of inches per column or seconds of time.

The diving industry certainly exists to satisfy the needs of the consumer – as every industry does. When business owners and officials realize those needs of the consumer and aim their marketing to it, instead of pleasing their ego, they will have a succesful marketing strategy. Sometimes as a designer I have to do certain things I don’t like, but my experience tells me that it is what the consumer likes, wants or looks for.

As an anecdote: As a screen printer my work was making big posters and banners advertising entertainment activities as concerts, shows, circuses and theater. These would be pasted or hung along streets and highways.

I had a client who made beautiful ads for his promotions and he wanted them reproduced for the street ads. I said it wouldn’t work because it was too much information to be read from 50 ft. away at 25 miles/hour speed. He still wanted it that way, but it didn’t work. When it was done the way I said, just the three W’s – Who Where and When information – the promo was a success.

That is why market research is very important, it asks people why they like or dislike something and much more.