I haven’t been looking for the perfect tee shirt lately as much as for the perfect leather bag. The straps on my $200 patent leather bag by Hobo began cracking after only 2 months, so I returned it to Lord & Taylor last week. That bag was supposed to last me at least a year. Now I’m back to square one, and I’m walking around with what looks like a diaper bag in the meantime.
Seth Godin has written a book called “All Marketers Are Liars” that I’m reading in bookstores between appointments in Manhattan. The title is just to grab your attention. His real point is that consumers are liars. We want to believe a story about ourselves, and if someone sells a product that fits our story, we’ll buy it.
So here’s the story I want my new bag to tell about me: I am a classy lady with expensive tastes, but I don’t spend money to be showy. I spend on quality, functionality and a dash of individual style.
I realized this was my story when I walked into Macy’s and found a $180 Tommy Hilfiger bag that, with sale and coupons, I could have for $90. I really tried to talk myself into that bag. Just that morning, I’d asked myself, “Why not just get any functional bag that looks better than your diaper bag until you can afford what you really want?” But this bag didn’t tell my story–it was purely functional–so I didn’t buy it.
I used to assume that everyone expects their bag to tell a similar story as mine, but I’m realizing that my story is very individual to me. One of my friends carries a Dior purse and knows exactly which Chanel bag she wants next, while another friend wears a no-name vinyl bag from Chinatown that looks like it cost a lot. Each friend has chosen a bag that fits her values and image. We could each try to change our stories, but I know I don’t want to. It’s more fun for me to try to find the purse that reinforces my story.
Not having finished the book, I’m guessing that a marketer’s job is to convince a target customer that a certain product tells that customer’s story. I definitely know the story I want my shirts to tell about their wearers: smart, classy, confident and sophisticated.