This is boldly the initial sentence I commonly hear when entrepreneurs and business leaders introduce themselves to me. Having crossed multiple markets, products and services across the globe allow me to let you in on a big little secret: It’s not.
Of course, this secret comes with nuance. I am a strategic marketer who loves to solve wicked problems so I get a lot of customers who are struggling hard in bettering their service and/or product. And I wouldn’t be any good as a strategist if I didn’t start my article with a little contradiction.
The reason I am telling you why your business is not different than any other business is to let you in on how marketeers look at your proposition. We see one person helping some other person solve a problem. Marketing at its core is a people’s business, a psychological business. Because no matter what you are selling, you are selling it to a human being. You are helping that person get a job done based on the motivations of what that person is trying to get done. From the consumer who shops in the supermarket to the business director that is procuring a technology solution for the company. There is always a brain involved and that human brain will or will not make the decision to buy and keep buying.
MOVING TO HUMAN-CENTRIC MARKETING
What I see is that over time companies – and I mean the people who form those companies – forget the person they are solving a problem for. I see teams, big and small, fall into the navel staring orbit as they are completely occupying themselves with the brilliance of product specifications; Who uses the F1 – F12 keys on their keyboards?! I see retail stores cut costs by adding self-serves pay counters; Why would a human want to be serviced by a human, they just want good fashion, fast and for nothing?! I see internal politics that perpetuate hierarchies rewarded instead of fantastic customer service; Do I really have to name any disciplines grossly disrupted by these political distractions.. ahum cough .. any government or warehouse retailers in here? And I surely believe you have seen these distractions too.
My answer and the biggest gift to gift yourself is to start at the end and carefully learn to understand what the jobs are that your customers are looking to solve. Don’t ask them but find ways that can help you understand them. Perhaps by even doing their job for the day! This is where marketing based on human-centric design thinking begins and I look forward to sharing more over time in this TNW column.
GETTING THAT JOB DONE
A favorite story of mine that I use to help my clients understand this is the one told by Clayton Christensen about the “Job to be Done”. In his YouTube video he lays out a simple example of a fast-food company looking to increase their milkshake sales. Watching this video, you will learn that the company is so utterly focussed on sizes, flavours, pricing – to name a few attributes along the milkshake competition spectrum – they forget to understand what the customer is trying to solve with the milkshake. Quite simply, a milkshake is hired to fix several jobs aside the predominant job that I call “easy access breakfast”. The challenge that is being explored by Clayton makes very clear that people are motivated to solve their morning appetite and that their motivation is understood along the abilities that are on offer to solve the problem, which is not necessarily a new flavour, a cheaper price or a diet size cup.
A human-centric marketeer knows what their job to be done is and that is to help you understand your customer from the customers perspective. Improving your business should start with understanding your customers jobs and what motivates them to hire your solutions all the while looking at what is in place for the customer to find, learn and adopt your solution. Rule number 1 is that you must let go of your own – generally biased – motivations and why you think your customers need to hire your solution.
Yes, your business is different to other businesses indeed … from your perspective. However, not necessarily in the way you believe it to be different when you think about how that difference is understood by your customers.
At the end of the day, it’s the customers that need to believe you will get their jobs done, and the difference will boil down to whether they decide you are the one to get hired for the job or not.
Let me know what your jobs are that you are trying to get done here if you would like to be featured with a solution in my next column!
Anne-Marie Twigge is a kick-ass creative proposition developer with a hardcore growth mindset. She is a certified Behavioural Design Lead and Growth Hacker. She has called Shanghai, Mumbai, New York, and Amsterdam her home launching numerous successful endeavours as a freelancing independent. She loves to tackle difficult challenges, accomplish the unprecedented and is comfortable with ambiguity and unframed situations. All in all – ready to rock your marketing challenge into a steadfast solution that sells.