One of the most successful, long-running ad campaigns of all time, was the “Mikey Likes It!” commercial for Life Cereal. It ran from 1972 to 1986.
In it, 4-year old Mikey, who “hates everything” is given a bowl of Life cereal to taste by his reluctant older brothers.
Here’s the beginning of the commercial:
Brother 1: What’s this stuff?
Brother 2: Some cereal. It’s supposed to be good for you.
Brother 1: Did you try it?
Brother 2: I’m not gonna try it. You try it!
Brother 1: I’m not gonna try it.
Brother 2: Let’s get Mikey. Yeah! He won’t eat it…he hates everything.
Mikey, of course, likes it, he really likes it.
When we’re trying to sell a new product to a group of skeptical potential customers, we’ll inevitably knock on a lot of doors and look for lots of feedback. And it’s easy to think that the feedback we’re getting, whether on the product itself or in terms of early sales, is an objective answer to the question “do you want this / does this meet your needs / do you like this?”
In reality, the search for a lot of ‘yeses’ to something truly new is often futile. When we try to get to a broad base of yeses, at the beginning, from lots of folks, we’ll likely find ourselves on a road to nowhere.
Instead, we need to find Mikey, we need to make sure that Mikey likes it, and we need to make sure that Mikey’s brothers can see that he likes it.
Who’s your Mikey?