My wife and I were enjoying a trip to Gatlinburg, where one of my goals was to take a picture of a real-live Brown Bear in the wild. Not even a mile along a driving trail, traffic is stopped and in the ditch is a real-live Brown Bear - its huge, 4 or 5 foot, hands like baseball mitts - its incredible!
I am on the side of the road clicking away. Through the lens, this animal is amazing. It appears so soft, so cuddly, eating away with the occasional glance towards the paparazzi-like crowd of amateur photogs across the street. Through the viewfinder it looks so perfect, so easy-going; my creative side is framing shot after shot of what i consider to be great stuff. Then it happens...one of the camera's flash catches the bear's attention and it raises up. I too raise up from behind the camera and see this bear through my own eyes. Less than 10 feet in front of me, there stands a Brown Bear on its hind legs. Its towering at this point, teeth showing, claws bigger than my fingers, reality sets in.
I slowly make my way back to the car and joke with my wife who has been hiding behind locked doors this whole time, "Babe, did you see how fast that bear went from friendly to ferocious? It must have been a bi-polar bear...ha ha...get it...bi-polar...polar bear...?" Yeah she laughed about as much as you are right now, little to none.
After thinking about it though, I made the same mistake so many businesses make. I got lost behind the lens of my camera. Whether it still or video or simply the concept of marketing, companies fail by thinking they know their audience and making their campaign pitches based on THEIR perceptions, not those of THEIR customers. Jeremy Bullmore summed this up years ago with the idea "a business is selling a drill" but "the customer is buying the hole in the wall."
Lesson learned, make sure you are still in touch with your customers. Don't get caught up in making such a great product or image or brand that you forget who you are selling it too. With all your major projects, take a step away, look in with the eyes of the customer, does the bear still look so friendly?