The Role of Belief When Marketing to Older Consumers
You're not in the business of changing minds. Instead, you channel existing worldviews in the direction of the products and services you're advocating for.
Meet Jordan Peterson.
Mr. Peterson is a 61-year-old former University of Toronto Psychology Professor who previously taught psychology at Harvard while maintaining a clinical practice.
Then one day, he decided to start a YouTube channel to become a celebrity expert in the “men's rights” community. That's a loose collection of activists and followers who feel men have been subjugated or betrayed by social progress, specifically by advancements in equality for women.
Note the phrase “loose collection of activists.” Peterson didn't originate these ideas. Instead, he saw what was happening and strategically became one of the leaders in the movement.
I'm not a fan of Mr. Peterson's, and you may not be either. We're not his target audience. But it's a mistake to think that he's converting impressionable young men to how he thinks.
It's more accurate to say he's channeling what certain people already believe and giving voice to those who think they're alone or isolated in their worldview about men, women, and society.
Let's take a look at the words of some of his fans as published in a New York Times profile of Peterson:
“Whenever I listen to him, it's like he's telling me something I already knew. Learning is remembering.”
Here’s another example:
“How many times have I been in a situation where I'd been set up to be the bad guy? Listening to Dr. Peterson, I got a grasp of myself. It's things I already knew, but now, I know how to process the thought.”
What are these two people really communicating here? Peterson's message is entering the conversation that's already happening inside the heads of those who become his followers. This is the way it happens with movements of any kind.
For example, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. didn't convince Black Americans that they wanted to be treated equally under the law. He channeled and organized an existing desire for civil rights that were routinely being denied.
Whether it’s MAGA or Marie Kondo, people follow other people who become leaders based on a shared worldview. These worldviews are not created by movements or marketing, they’re simply mirrored back to a particular group and given a voice.
Buying is Believing
So, what does this have to do with building a business and selling stuff? As you saw with the way Steve Jobs marketed Apple’s products, people buy things based on what they believe about who they are and aspire to be.
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