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How to Market to People Not Like You: "Know It or Blow It" Rules for Reaching Diverse Customers by KELLY McDONALD

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Introduction: You Can't Reach a Customer You Don't Understand

I was in the Dallas airport recently and saw one of the worst ads I've ever seen. It stopped me in my tracks and I found myself studying it, trying to fathom how an ad this awful came to exist. As a marketing professional, I had to wonder, "Who created it? And who approved it?" The ad was for Cancun, Mexico. The intent was obviously to increase tourism to Cancun by appealing to vacationers. It was an ad featuring a beautiful beach with a woman lying on a massage table, outside, by the ocean, getting a massage. There were starfish and sand dollars strewn around the bottom of the ad. The headline stated: "Yes You Can . . . Cun."

Aside from the cheesy, stupid, horrible play on words and pun ("Yes you can"), there was nothing that would entice a reader to choose Cancun over any other beach destination. There was no mention of the culture, the history, or things to do in Cancun. There was simply a picture of a woman getting a massage by the ocean. It could have been an ad for Miami or St. Croix or San Diego. The odd thing is, there are many, many reasons why someone would want to vacation in Cancun: world-class snorkeling and diving, Mayan ruins, five-star hotels and restaurants, fantastic weather, a large English-speaking population, affordability—the list goes on. I'm willing to bet that most people planning a vacation to a beach destination are not going to choose their destination because of a generic, bland ad and a corny, ...

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