What would Joan do?

question mark sharpieProcter & Gamble is considered a “best of breed” company. Their stock is considered a must-own by the vast majority of stock analysts, and their legacy has spanned two centuries.

One reason for their ongoing success is the power of their brands. One reason they have such powerful brands is because they stay so close to their customers. One way they do that is to literally put the customer at the center of EVERY decision they make.

As former CEO Arthur Lafley described in his book, The Game-Changer: How You Can Drive Revenue and Profit Growth with InnovationThe Game Changer, they actually have a ritual they go through. They have a life-sized, cardboard cutout of a female character they call “Joan” who occupies a spot in their offices. “Joan” is an amalgam representing their typical consumer. Every time they find themselves stymied wondering how to make a particular brand or strategy decision, or just wondering where to go from here, they ask the simple question, “What would Joan do?” They ask what would be the best course of action for their target market, their ideal customer, and that helps move them forward.

Develop profiles of your ideal customers. You can even give them clever names so that as you develop every aspect of your brand, you can envision exactly who benefits from the value you’re delivering. You may find that being able to identify with those fictional characters can help you make decisions worth real profits.

The customer isn’t a moron. She’s your wife.” – David Ogilvy