What Marketers Can Learn From Method Actors

September 11, 2012 — Leave a comment

Christian Bale starved himself and ate nothing but an apple and a can of tuna when preparing for his role in The Machinist.

Matthias Schoenaerts considered taking steroids for his role of cattle farmer Jacky Vanmarsenille in Bullhead. Schoenaerts literally became his role and gained 27 kilograms by eating 6000 calories a day. He studied his character’s life obsessively and learned to talk with Vanmarsenille’s particular accent by rehearsing his script hundreds of times.

Today I heard Herman Toch, a business author, talk about customers seeing through advertising – about customers not believing the messages they’re being fed by organisations because these organizations just don’t have a clue what they (are) like.

He talked about a disconnect between marketers and the people they’re trying to reach. Marketers, he arguments – in order to understand the psyche of their customers – should create better relationships with their customers.

We all heard about the relationship-thing and I guess using marketing research, monitoring social media conversations, blogs and the like would solve some of this disconnect.

Godin said the following:

You’ve probably guessed that supermodel status exists in many fields. Stocks, brand names, consultants, doctors, even dog trainers.

The leap must be an intentional one. You don’t walk there. You leap.

So why go half way? Why not make the leap?

What if right now, marketers are working in the middle of the continuum of the customer-organisation relationship?

Image that at one extreme of the continuum you find the marketers that know jack shit about their customers, at the other extreme the marketer is the customer. The middle is where most are at right now – using all technological tools at hand to guess at what their customers are thinking and feeling.

But still there would a great distance between the organisation and the customer, right?

What if marketers took the the leap? What if they actually became the customer for a while? What if they started doing what Bale and Schoenaerts did and started immersing themselves in the lifes of the people they were trying to reach – using Stanislavski’s techniques of Method Acting trying to create in themselves the thoughts and emotions of their target customers to the extent that they continue to portray them even when they are off-project?

If the goal is to close the gap and get rid of the disconnect between organisations and customers, shouldn’t marketers then become the customer?

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