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What We Can Learn From Ralph Lauren

April 26, 2011 fm

Wouldn’t you love to be sporty and seductive and adventurous and stylish?

When I was strolling through one of Singapore’s impressive shopping malls the other day, I stumbled over a promotion stand by Ralph Lauren (RL) presenting the brand’s latest collection of fragrances – #1 Sporty, #2 Seductive, #3 Adventurous, #4 Stylish.

In my opinion a brilliant concept. Top brands like L’Oréal, the marketer and distributor of RL fragrances, invest millions and years in analyzing and understanding their customers. Now – I don’t know about the exact ingredients of RL’s brand essence. I could bet, though, that the attributes sporty, seductive, adventurous and stylish play a major role here.

RL brand followers live these characteristics. Others might and will be attracted by them.

The brilliant move of this specific campaign is say goodbye to finding a fragrance that reflects all these characteristics and create a series of four types instead.

The L’Oréal guys know very well that a consumer of #1 Sporty will say, “Hey, wait a minute, I’m stylish too.” Exactly, of course you are. That is why you will also buy #4. Instead of buying four different brands, RL customers can now purchase four fragrances of the same brand and feel “complete” by doing so. Brilliant.
What Can Public Speakers Learn From Ralph Lauren?

01 Analyze your audience

Till L’Oréal came up with sporty, seductive, adventurous and stylish, it probably took them years of research. Top brands know their customers better than most of the husbands know their wives.

Apparently, as public speakers we do not have this time. Yet, what we always should do is analyze our audiences.

Find some characteristics that most of them have in common. The representatives of a Fight Lung Cancer Association will most likely share a healthy lifestyle.

When you speak at a Thanksgiving dinner of the American Society of Rome, you could address the entrepreneurial spirit of its members.

An audience of foreign exchange students? Open-minded will do.

In all these cases you will connect with your audience. Just like RL does.

02 Attributes make up a customer, attributes make up a speech

Once I supported my ex-boss at KPMG with a series of animal slides. Those reflected in a metaphorical way what leadership expected from our professionals.

  • A group of lions looking out for their prey = be aware of opportunities
  • A group of antelopes in the sunset = be attentive to market risks
  • A group of fish with one fish set aside = have a self-starting attitude
  • A mommy bear showing the baby bear how to catch salmon = be open to learn
  • Leaf cutter ants building a bridge for their buddies to cross from one leaf to the other = be team-oriented

We wanted team members who harbored all these characteristics. Just like RL does.

By the way, if you manage to come up with an acronym for your characteristics – even better.

03 Collect fragrances, collect modules

My father would have loved me to follow his passion for stamps. Frankly, it never really hit me. What I did love were those Panini stickers. In 1986 and 1990, I meticulously filled those Soccer World Cup albums. I must have spent all my pocket money – what a rip-off!

Stamps or Panini stickers – people love to collect things. RL knows it. You know it.

So – why not set up your speeches and trainings in modules? The trick is to create the program in a way that the full picture – covering all modules – is much more attractive to your clients.

At Toastmasters we collect titles as well: Competent Communicator, Advanced Communicator Bronze, Advanced Communicator Silver, … The title collection process keeps you going. You follow the module-based program until you finally achieve distinction – Distinguished Toastmaster.

To date, I do not offer modules. Maybe I should? Just like RL does.
Well Done, Ralph

Certainly, I consider myself sporty and seductive and adventurous and stylish. This RL promotion hit my mark. I bought #3 Adventurous and now I want more. Well done, Ralph!

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