I recently had the opportunity to hear Kelly McDonald keynote a session at the National Speakers Association on “How to Market To People Not Like You.” It is based on a book with a similar title: Crafting the Customer Experience for People Not Like You: How To Delight and Engage the Customers Your Competitors Don’t Understand.

“If I can figure out what you value, I can get into your wallet,” McDonald said. When defining diversity, she went on to explain that she actually doesn’t like that word. “It’s really more about people who are not like you,” she said. For example, she does not have children so those people that have kids are not like her. Therefore, people not like you comes in many forms: gender, religion, age, generation, ethnicity, geographic, etc. (this list is endless).

“Understanding someone different from you means understanding their life,” McDonald added.

She offered six strategies for marketing to people not like you:

  • Be relevant—“You need to identify what people want and then give it to them,” McDonald said. She noted that Target succeeded where K-Mart failed because Target’s strategy of “style on a budget” resonated with women.
  • Tap into their values—Different people value different things. For example, women do more research online and value testimonials and reviews while Millennials value diversity and interaction.
  • Use key customer insights to sell more effectively—The more you know about your target audiences, the more effective your marketing to them is. She used gender as an example to support this point. She noted that women value expansive choices (they want to see a lot of options) while men just want three options (less than three is too few and more than three is too much).
  • Pay attention to trends—“Fads come and go while trends are shifts and movements,” McDonald said. For example, social (not necessarily social media) is a trend. “People take selfies to share them; we are never going to stop sharing.”
  • Figure out your FAB—The acronym FAB refers to features, attributes and benefits. “Nobody cares about your company,” she said. “They only care about what you can do for them. Focus on selling your benefits and not your features.” She used Bluetooth technology in your car as example: Bluetooth is the feature, hands free talking is the attribute and safety is the benefit.
  • Be fearless—“You can’t stay in your comfort zone,” McDonald said. She noted how Harley Davidson recently changed its marketing strategy from one that targeted Boomers to now one that targets females.

She summed up her talk with one final thought: “Helping beats selling. Find out what your targets are struggling with and how you can help them with a solution.”

If you ever have the opportunity to hear McDonald speak, I highly encourage you to do so. And if you can’t catch her at an event, pick up a copy of Crafting the Customer Experience for People Not Like You: How To Delight and Engage the Customers Your Competitors Don’t Understand.