The Bootstrappers
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The Bootstrappers

Product marketing

Build better customers, not products

Jobs to be done framework is helpful in building the right products

In 2014, I had launched Build Your Community. It was an online tool to audit the online communities of the brand. It also helped to plan and launch campaigns to grow the online communities. But, the brands would rather not use it.

Earlier, my digital marketing firm Shack Co. helped brands build and manage online communities. Online communities for Yahoo, Quakers, Goodyear and MP Tourism were not just social media accounts. A concept website with editorial content and applications served as the hub. All the online activities on social media or off-line flowed from there. We had built a framework using POST ( People, Objectives, Strategy, and Technology).

First, we researched the target audience’s online presence. We looked up their lifecycle, socio-economic class attributes, interests and online behaviour from the publicly available data. It helped us build an editorial plan as per the branding objectives such as raising awareness or consideration. Each piece was for a specific audience, which had a specific objective and the corresponding format such as blog, video, poster, podcast etc. We never did Facebook strategy or Linked-in strategy.

With Build Your Community, we aimed to equip brands and agencies to build their own communities. After more than a year of launch, we had a only handful of customers. It was the height of social media phenomenon. Seth Godin had declared marketing dead, except content marketing. We doubled down, and built another version with more features. Still, the brands would rather not use the tool. What, we thought, was a revolutionary idea, turned out to be a failure.

Thanks to Mini MBA, I am able to pinpoint the exact reasons for the failure. As per the ‘Product’ module, products fail if they are not market oriented or customer-centric. What does it mean? Without market research, businesses do not know who could be their customers. Without knowing the customers, businesses cannot explain the attributes or benefits, which customers are looking for. If businesses aren’t aware about attitude and behaviour of the customers, they do not know what part of the sales funnel requires attention.

Professor Ritson shared Jobs To Be Done framework. Again, it’s about finding what do customers really want. It’s not about what you think they want. Customers do not buy the products for their functional features. Instead, they hire the products for their personal reasons. They do not buy a drilling machine. They buy a tool to hang picture frames on the wall, to cherish memories.

Kathy Sierra, author of Badass, Making Users Awesome, wrote, “Upgrade your user, not your product. Don’t build better cameras — build better photographers.”

Knowing what customers want to hire will help build the right product. It will help businesses communicate the attributes, the customers understand. It will help you focus on the appropriate message for the correct channel. Furthermore, it leads to the eventual goal for the businesses, to increase sales and grow.

Now, upgrade your customers:

  • Milkshake invented JTBD, sort of Link
  • How Basecamp uses it Link
  • Apply it in your business Link
  1. Russia’s McDonald’s knockoff Link
  2. Try typography Link
  3. Building the minimum badass user Link



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