As a growth marketer, I often end up subscribing to newsletters and podcasts — mostly related to customer acquisition, traction, and marketing strategies. And, it’s not just me. Considering the number of mediums available to share insights, we all end up reading a ton of marketing content.
On one hand, it means we get to discover new ways/channels to grow the business. It’s clearly a win. On the other, this also saturates the new channels much faster. Whenever there’s a new channel/community/social network, you can see how brands are trying harder to fit into it. After all, we need to engage with potential customers.
At the end of the day, we have to compete for attention. And, when it comes to capturing attention, how you appeal to the target market matters more than anything else. It’s the basic you need to get right. It’s the first step in your marketing. If you overlook the basics, no growth strategy or channel can help.
Sidenote: I am not here to list the top 10 ways to appeal to the audience. While it can be useful, I am willing to help you set a framework in place. Whatever you do should be layered on the top of the framework.
Cycling Back to the Bottom
When you discover a new strategy, you experiment and see if it works. Let’s say you got lucky and it did work, you can scale it to acquire customers. But it will work only up to a point. Why?
There’s no one reason. One of your competitors may figure out the strategy in some way and hoover up the consumers or scaling should’ve reduced the conversion or consumers aren’t finding it ‘novel’ anymore.
Ultimately, this becomes yet another strategy that’s driving decent or worse, no results at all. You’ll cycle yourself back to the bottom. The same applies to new channels, communities, etc. Andrew Chen calls it the “law of shitty click-through-rates”. The point is, your results will decay over time and it’s inevitable.
Now, back to our story — So, discovering a new strategy/channel can only work for a while, but when you know how to appeal to the audience, you can prolong the effectiveness of a channel.
Though we can’t get the same results for perpetuity, we don’t have to hit the rock bottom either. In fact, if we do it right, we can get the maximum out of a channel — with or without the competition. In other words, you can slow down the rate at which results are declining.
Let’s work out the answer — How you appeal to the market?
Clay Christensen’s Jobs-to-be-done framework is well-known and it’s the best approach that leads us close to the answer — How can you appeal to the consumers?
According to JTBD, you market products as if they are the tool to be hired to do a specific job. Your customers are looking to get a job done and you are ensuring that the product you offer is the right tool for the work. From messaging to the actual execution, your focus is on how your product will get the job done. Now this gives us an idea to appeal to the consumer.
You describe how your product can get the job done. You go beyond to include the benefits and how you are better than the other tools. And then, you talk about the results.
In other words, you segment the audience based on the jobs. The argument is some products are better defined and marketed by their job than the customers they serve. Though the customers come in all shapes and sizes, the end goal of ‘em is to get the same job done. So, it’s ideal to change your approach to serve the jobs.
“By focusing on the job and the context of customers, you can develop and market products well-tailored to what customers are already trying to do. That’s something a composite sketch of six different people just can’t achieve.”
Perhaps, one of the best outcomes of JTBD, is it helps us to expand our view and truly understand who we are competing with. A classic example is journalism. If media realized that the job is ‘to keep people entertained or keep them in the know’, they would’ve well prepared to compete with social networks and general content apps. To put it another way, it will make us not just look at the products in the same category, but also at the other category products who are serving the same jobs.
Crowded Markets and JTBD
But when the market is crowded and competitive, which is the most probable case, focusing on the job isn’t enough. You need to consider consumers as well. Let’s take a look at the example of smartphones.
As you know, there are plenty of smartphone brands in a market and why we purchase one isn’t really a variable. A decade-old survey conducted by GSMArena declared that people were buying smartphones for browsing, social networking, texting, watching videos, among other common reasons. And, from SimilarWeb, it is clear that we still use smartphones for the same set of use cases (going with the majority). So, the job is the same here and if Apple focused on the job alone, it wouldn’t have become the most sought-after brand it is today.
“Marketing is about values. It’s a complicated and noisy world, and we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So we have to be really clear about what we want them to know about us.”
– Steve Jobs.
Not just Apple, several brands have gone beyond the job to reach their heights. While jobs are essential, they aren’t enough to leave a lasting impression and spread the brand story. When I mentioned that ‘you need to consider consumers’, I am not directing you to buyer personas. There’s something more important.
Worldview of the consumers.
Worldview Marketing Framework
Here’s how Seth Godin defines worldview in his book “All Marketers Are Storytellers”:
Worldview isn’t who you are. It’s what you believe. It’s your biases. Worldview isn’t constant. It changes over time.
You can see the difference between the buyer persona and worldview right in the first sentence. A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customers, but the worldview isn’t about the customers. It isn’t about their interest, demographics, what blog they read, etc.
It’s about what they believe in. What they stand for. What they believe they deserve in their life. We, marketers, have to understand that worldview is something that the audience has framed long before they hear about the products and the brands.
From landing pages to marketing campaigns, we need to create messages and design products that resonate with the worldview of the ideal customers. But humans are quite complicated and we are made of several subselves. How can a brand possibly figure out the worldview of the consumers and cater to them?
The question is not to look at the worldviews of the consumers, it is to create your core values. If you know what you stand for, who you want to serve, and what you believe in, you’ll attract the right people.
Again, I am taking Apple as an example. Seriously, they’ve done such a great job at it. When Steve Jobs rejoined the company as the CEO, he took the stage to revive Apple. On the same stage, he rolled out ‘Think Different’ campaign. In its campaign, Apple defines what it stands for and who it wants to serve.
People with passion can change the world for the better.
You get it. So, people who saw themselves as outliers began to flock towards Apple. Apple had a stellar product that does the job and the core values to get the right people interested.
Market Size Problem
The best part is, worldview helps you leverage the existing mindset of the audience rather than changing it. To put it another way, you are finding a place for your brand to fit in the market. As Ted Morgan says, “positioning is like finding a seat on a crowded bus”. Most brands get into the bus, glance left and right, and sit on top of each other. You don’t have to.
There’s a very good chance for you to find the consumers who resonate with your core values or you both share the same worldview. But there’ll be a match only when you show it in everything you do, especially, marketing.
For most of the startups, this might sound like reducing the market size. Why would I want to leave out others who are looking to solve the same job just because we don’t share the same values? But that’s the whole point.
“Marketing succeeds when enough people with similar worldviews come together in a way that allows marketers to reach them cost-effectively”
– Seth Godin.
You need to win a segment of the market and they’ll tell the brand story to others, eventually, building a cult for your brand. People buy iPhones today, not just because they want to change the world for the better. I mean, other factors will add up as you grow the brand. And, people tend to change their worldviews over time (it’s not a constant) and you’ll get them sooner or later.
The idea is not to be the brand for everyone at the start.
Get the Basics Right
And, that leads to the end of the article. We need to get the basics right. Basics, here, refers to two things. One, understand the job you are trying to solve and two, define your brand values.
“I think Apple has pockets of greatness but in some ways has drifted away from doing the basics really well.”
– Steve Jobs.
Rand Fishkin, one of my favorite founders, argues that most marketers skip the basics. In a way, he’s right. When we join a startup, we set our goals, decide the KPIs, and ramp up the output. We continue to run social media campaigns, target keywords on Google search, retarget site visitors, blog for getting leads, and the list goes on. But first, we need to get the basics right.
If you are familiar with the jobs-to-be-done framework, you know it incites us to take a new perspective toward marketing and product development. It isn’t a tactic, but a lens that will help us to design better marketing campaigns and products. Similarly, when you set the brand values in place, you’ll come up with better content, marketing campaigns, and products. To put it another way, having a set of core values will guide your company to have a certain worldview that resonates with the right audience.
There’s a good chance that you are looking for a source to see how brand values can be ingrained into your day-to-day marketing. Or, it’s just me who thinks it is better to have a follow-up post. Anyways, you’ll see a post soon.