How to sell your product/platform to your target customer/voter
Many candidates for public office view their campaign as a job interview. Voters are the hiring managers, and candidates need to demonstrate their fitness and qualifications for the position. Political candidates are not evaluated on their resumes and experience alone, however.
The same is true for digital products, or at least that is the theory of UX designers who employ the Jobs-to-be-done framework for user research.
Voter attitudes and behavior are complex and unpredictable - as are consumer habits. To understand what motivates consumer/voter decision making, it helps to take a step back from trying to convince your target audience. Devote some time and energy into understanding their goals and needs first.
Messages that miss the mark
Perhaps the best way to understand good messaging is to discuss bad messaging and the common mistakes that result in weak, ineffective messages.
The micro-targeting mistake.
Knowing your audience is half the battle, but it's only half the battle. Far too often, marketers focus too narrowly on segmenting their audience to find, identify, and target messages towards the groups an individuals who are (supposedly) the most receptive or persuadable subjects.
The next - and arguably more important - step is to discover and develop the actual words and phrases that speak to each target audience in a meaningful and compelling way. This is where so many marketers and political pros use hasty generalizations to craft messages for their targets. By making broad, blanket assumptions about your targets based on demographic criteria, your message becomes superficial, not persuasive.
The feature trap, or policy wonk's fallacy.
This happens when message development is informed by the best ideas, features, and policies. This disease can be difficult to diagnose because messages based on impressive, well-thought-out solutions to real problems sounds like a great strategy! This approach is flawed because it assumes that the problems discussed in your messaging may not be the same problems that your target audience is hiring you to solve. Your ideas and solutions are great, but your audience doesn't care. They have other problems.
The focus-group fallacy.
So why not ask your audience what they want? Political message-makers love to ask the question *"what issue is most important to you?" and product marketers might ask "what features would convince you to buy this product?" In both of these cases, you're asking the wrong question.
The fact is, people don't really know what features they want or what policy proposals are most important to them, so when you ask a loaded question like this, they are liable to answer in a way that gives you useless information.
What is the job to be done?
In the jobs to be done frameworks, the question the marketer must ask themselves is what "job" does the target customer "hire" the product/company/candidate to get done for them. There may be a number of jobs. For example, from the voter's perspective, the voter may be hiring the candidate to do the job of...
To use the JTBD framework to develop messaging, consider mapping out the target audience's needs with the template below.
When _________________________ I want to ______________________ so I can _______________________
In the examples above, we've defined a few "jobs" that a voter might "hire" the candidate to perform. The power of the JTBD framework is that it places emphasis on the outcomes. The outcome is the job that needs to be done. Consumers and voters don't really care how you get the job done, they just care that the job get's done. That is the reason they should care about your candidate or product.
JTBD is not a Mad Lib style template you plug in to write the content of your message, but this exercise promotes a mindset that helps anyone to develop better customer/voter centric messaging. The result of using this framework for message development is language that is more relatable, accessible, and relevant to the target audience. By framing your message in the JTBD framework, you turn the "star" of you message from you (the product/candidate) to them (the customer/voter).
The bottom line
Don't tell people what you are going to do, or what great qualities and features your product has. Focus on what "jobs" your target audience want to get "done" and tell them how you are going to solve their problem.
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