Strategyn
product positioning

Product Positioning

Connect perfectly with customers

By appealing to their functional and emotional jobs

Communicate function, appeal to emotion

The goal of product positioning is to present a product or service to the customer in a way that effectively communicates its value. When looking at product positioning through a jobs-to-be-done lens, we see that the best way to communicate value to customers is to explain (1) how the product helps them execute the functional job better than competing solutions, and (2) how it satisfies the emotional jobs that are associated with getting the functional job done.

To position a product effectively, we must know how the product helps customers get the job done better and what emotional goals the customer will achieve by doing so.

Myths that mislead

Fifty years ago, it was common to find television commercials that explained how a product helped customers get a job done better. Today it is rare. Instead, most commercials try to appeal to customer emotions. Thinking that people buy on emotion is the myth that misleads. Looking through a jobs-to-be-done lens, it is easy to see that customers will not buy a product if it is ineffective at helping them get the job done. Moreover, if its value cannot be explained, adoption will be slow or stifled altogether. People are emotional creatures, it’s true, but they don’t make product choices based on emotion. They seek out solutions that help them get a functional job done and that enable them to satisfy their related emotional jobs along the way.

The role of emotion in product positioning

First and foremost, product positioning must position the product along a functional dimension. Apple’s iPad commercials do this very effectively: they show all the jobs you can get done better using the device.

So where does emotion enter the product positioning equation? When people are using a product, they want to be perceived a certain way by others, and they want to feel a certain way as a result of using the product. These social and personal goals are the customers’ emotional jobs. If a product can help customers also achieve their emotional goals, then the perceived value of the product is even greater. Positioning a product around its functional benefits and around the factors that bring it emotional appeal is the key to an effective product positioning strategy.

Emotion-function correlation

We have discovered that customers use between 50 and 150 metrics (desired outcomes) to assess how well a product helps them get a job done. These metrics are the customers’ needs. We have also discovered the customers have emotional jobs they are trying to accomplish. For example, customers may want to be perceived by peers as a contributor, or as influential. Or they may be after a sense of accomplishment or peace of mind.

Our product positioning process reveals customers’ functional needs and emotional jobs. The degree to which each is unmet is established using quantitative research methods. Then, using correlation analysis, we are able to determine which emotional jobs would be addressed by satisfying specific unmet needs, and which unmet needs would have to be satisfied in order to address specific emotional jobs.

With this information in hand, we can position a product around its functional benefits and around the related factors that give it emotional appeal, allowing the message to connect perfectly with customers. This is all part of our innovation process, Outcome-Driven Innovation (ODI). Learn more about our growth strategy consulting services.

Published Articles

Turn Customer Input into Innovation

In this timeless 2002 Harvard Business Review article, Tony Ulwick first introduces the concept of Outcome-Driven Innovation to HBR readers. He explains how Cordis Corporation (now a division of Johnson & Johnson) used ODI to increase its angioplasty balloon market share from 1 percent to 20 percent through effective product positioning and helping that customer get the job done better. Learn More

The Customer-Centered Innovation Map

In this groundbreaking 2008 Harvard Business Review article, Tony Ulwick and Lance Bettencourt reveal an important discovery they made while turning jobs-to-be-done innovation theory into practice: job mapping. A job map breaks down the job the customer is trying to get done in a way that enables us to discover all the customer’s needs and effectively execute product positioning.
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White Papers

What is Outcome-Driven Innovation?

Outcome-Driven Innovation is the most effective innovation process in existence today. This white paper, by Strategyn founder and ODI inventor Tony Ulwick, explains why innovation has historically been an ineffective process, the discoveries he made that led to ODI, and how it enables us to effectively position products and accelerate company growth. Download the white paper

Books

What Customers Want

What Customers Want, the best seller by innovation thought leader Tony Ulwick, explains what Outcome-Driven Innovation is and why it works. Ulwick, who pioneered jobs-to-be-done thinking and invented ODI, details how ODI transforms jobs-to-be-done theory into a practical method for effective product positioning and growing through innovation. Learn More

Case Studies

Choose from a dozen case studies of companies such as Microsoft, Ingersoll Rand, Bosch, and others, and learn how we apply the ODI methodology for market selection, understanding customer needs, product positioning and to help companies grow.
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Master Jobs-to-be-Done
November 2, 2017 San Francisco

Interested in learning Jobs-to-be-Done theory and putting it into practice at your organization?

Come to our Master Class and learn from JTBD pioneer Tony Ulwick!

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