Let’s go back to September 2020. The end of that first lockdown. Offices were opening up again (at least temporarily), and if there’s one thing we’ll need to keep things safe, it’s a bottle of Dettol spray. 

So one could hardly blame Dettol, or their marketing agency McCann London, for cashing in on the ‘back to the office’ rush.

Designed to encourage commuters to stay safe, the ad lists what workers supposedly missed about working at the office.

But there was just one problem:

Londoners were not taking it quite the way expected. To say that they were unimpressed would be an understatement. Baffled commuters took to social media to express their feelings:

“Noooooooo there’s another one WHYYYYYYYYYYYY pic.twitter.com/ZGpiCXkzU3”— Jenny se quois (@mmtowns) September 3, 2020

“omg they are gagging for us to return back to the office. “second family”? “— mi (@helloalegria) September 2, 2020

“Oh look! They’ve made a list of everything I hate about work and put it on a poster!” -twitter.com/UQ7C4jQthN September 3, 2020

In other words, most office workers weren’t as excited to get back to the water cooler chats as expected. No one cared much for their boss’s sense of humour after all. And no one had particularly warm feelings for their ‘second family’ at work either.

Dettol didn’t have to worry too much. They’ve got too much of a solid reputation to get ruined by one marketing faux pas.

But it makes a vital learning curve for the rest of us. For a smaller company, this mistake could be costly. So, how could you avoid misreading your crowd?

I believe there’s one answer to that: Research.

In the marketing world, the first commandment is ‘know thy audience’. They are the ones you are talking to. It’s their problems that you, as a service provider, need to have the answer to.

Dettol didn’t read the room properly. Perhaps with some more research prior to their campaign, they could have developed something a bit more intune with what the audience needed.

The best way to engage your audience is to relate to them. And the only way to do that is to find out as much about them as possible before starting to write.

Learn all you can about them; their likes, dislikes, desires and pain points, using any means necessary.

Scour the web for insightful blogs.

Look at social media conversations for ideas.

Speak to customers yourself.

Once you have your homework done, you’ll be in a position to write copy that resonates with your audience.

Remember, it’s your audience you’re talking to. Show your ideal customers that you understand them, and you’ll have them hooked.