It’s one thing to market to people just like you. But what if you have nothing in common with your target audience? How do you get inside their head? In The Experience Effect, Jim Joseph offers a practical suggestion: “Read a book or go to a movie that depicts the customer—especially a book or movie that the target marketing is embracing,” he says. “You’ll get an incredible glimpse into their lives, their emotions, and their preferences.”

When Joseph—then a single man in his twenties—began marketing Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, he knew nothing about babies. He’d never even held one in his arms.

“So like every other new-mom-to-be,” he says, “I read the classic book What to Expect When You’re Expecting to see for myself what pregnant women are thinking about, worrying about, and purchasing as they go through the cycles of their pregnancy and as they make decisions for their baby’s arrival.”

But that’s not all. When his pregnant friends would go to the doctor for a check-up, Joseph would tag along to observe mothers interacting with their newborns in the waiting room.

He adopted a similar approach when marketing to another demographic he didn’t fit. “I used to watch Dawson’s Creek and Beverly Hills 90210 religiously when I was a brand manager on Clean & Clear teen skin care at Johnson & Johnson so that I could learn about teenage girls and their lives.”

Now the question: What can pop culture teach you about your audience?

“Good marketing comes from turning theory into reality,” writes Joseph, “so let’s make our consumers real people, not just a collection of data.”

Source: The Experience Effect.