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.
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.