Do you really know your customers?
Sure, you can probably rattle off the usual demographics of your target market, but if your test results are flat, it could be an indication that you are not thinking like your customers.
Fifty years ago, marketers relied on intense artistic creativity and consumer psychology to connect with customers. Fast forward to today’s modern digital marketing, and daily conversations revolve around the petabytes of Big Data we’re combing through, predictive-modeling algorithms we’re testing, and specialized data-science roles that make some of us seem less like marketers and more like, well, scientists.
Has the pendulum swung too far away from old-school marketing to the contemporary role of data scientists? As optimization managers, have we lost sight of the customers?
In some ways, we have; which is why we need to merge the best of these two worlds — combining the creativity and psychology of the 1960s marketing firm with the Big-Data, predictive-modeling, specialized data-science roles of the 2010s.
We are calling this idea method marketing.
What Is Method Marketing?
Method marketing is a term taken from method acting — when actors live for months at a time like the characters they are portraying. For some actors, method acting helps them get inside characters’ heads to better understand who these characters really are.
Method marketing is similar, as method marketers work toward thinking and feeling like their customers to understand and solve problems through the user experience and marketing best practices. Method marketers go beyond the information found on the surface to determine why customers are interacting with brands in various ways.
By implementing the three steps of the method-marketing framework, your enterprise can truly understand the customers you serve.
The Method-Marketing Framework
1. Develop Personas: A persona is a fictional character representing the needs, wants, and behaviors of key customer types. Personas help marketers understand customers better by getting inside their heads to feel what they are feeling.
Imagine for a moment a website that sells bikes. Naturally, some customers visiting such a website are going to be experienced bikers who are browsing the latest gear and equipment, while others may be newbies who are shopping for their first set of wheels. Having a one-size-fits-all website will undoubtedly neglect the needs of one group or the other.
This is why persona development is so important. Understanding that there are different personas coming to your site — and catering content to match these personas — helps marketers speak to the wants and needs of each customer visiting your website.
2. Determine Jobs to Be Done: Once you have created your different personas, you must then determine which jobs your different personas are purchasing your products and services to do.
Consider the story of milkshake marketing, as told by Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen. According to Christensen, a fast-food chain once attempted to increase milkshake sales by asking its target demographic to list the attributes of the perfect milkshake. But, when the company applied the feedback, sales remained the same.
Sales did respond, however, once the company determined the job that customers were purchasing the milkshake to do. One of the most revealing insights discovered through jobs-to-be-done research was the fact that many customers were buying milkshakes first thing in the morning on their way to work.
These customers had “hired” the milkshake to curb their appetites during morning commutes. Milkshakes, as opposed to other breakfast options, were clean, easy to handle while driving, and enough to keep customers satisfied until their lunch breaks. By focusing on the job that customers were hiring the milkshake to do, the company was able to increase sales while improving their product offering to better fit customers’ needs.
3. Evaluate Site: Once you’ve determined jobs to be done, it’s time to apply the information to improve your marketing strategy. Consider the milkshake example: by putting boots on the ground to determine what customers were hiring milkshakes to do, the fast-food chain was able to gain valuable insight and actionable customer data to use moving forward.
There are two ways you can evaluate and improve your own website: by focusing on user experience and design and through proven marketing techniques such as the use of emotional messaging tied to customer values. When you identify the human value your product harnesses, you can develop high-emotion marketing messages that tap into that particular human value or need.
Method marketing combines the best marketing practices of the past with innovative methods of the present. Taking yesterday’s focus on creativity and consumer psychology and merging it with today’s data science and analytics gives marketers valuable human insights while forming emotional connections that resonate with customers. When you are thinking and feeling like your customers, you are better able to understand them and work toward solving their problems as if they were your own.