Certain brands or entrepreneurs manage to regularly offer their audiences desirable products…
Tesla, for example, embodies the idea of the ideal car to its audience. A photographer equipped with a Leica will have the feeling of following in the footsteps of Henri Cartier-Bresson. Tim Ferris readers, on the other hand, are flocking to his new books when they are much less interesting than “The four-hour week”.
A desirable product is so effective that you don’t even have to describe it to sell it. How do some entrepreneurs and companies manage to make their products objects of desire?
To achieve this, their marketing combines three characteristics:
- Effective targeting which means that they will target a specific audience;
- A positioning that clearly sets them apart from their competitors;
- An ability to meet the aspirations of their prospects, far beyond the simple need.
In this article, I suggest you analyze the successes and failures of several companies and I will present a method for implementing inspiring product marketing.
The limit of rational arguments
The two creators of the young startup had overcome their stage fright and the atmosphere had become warm. The prospect was a photo agency director. He admitted that he was impressed with the product presented to him.
Confident, the entrepreneurs concluded the meeting by emphasizing what made the difference between their classification and photo archiving software and the competing solutions:
- A classification of photos based on artificial intelligence;
- Software that gradually learns by analyzing the habits of the photographer;
- Wireless synchronization with the camera;
- Instant data backup to the Cloud;
- Engineers working to improve the solution every day.
The prospect determined that this product was necessary and that he was responding to a big concern within the agency. The two startups thought they had finally won their first client.
Highlighting its functionality is not enough
But two days later, the prospect told them that he finally had other priorities. His agency preferred to invest in shooting equipment to allow its photographers to work in better conditions.
If this scene often occurs when we try to sell a product, in B2C as in B2B, it is that usefulness of our product highlighted during prospecting is not enough to trigger a purchase.
By highlighting the features and needs that his product meets, an entrepreneur chooses to address his client rationally.
A director of a photographic agency knows very well that better shooting equipment will not allow his photographers to take more beautiful photos.
He also knows that the software presented to him could save him a lot of inconvenience in the future.
Less rational criteria come into play
However, other less rational criteria will be taken into account when choosing.
- The agency specializes in sports events, an environment where photographers compete with each other;
- Other competing agencies equip their photographer with state-of-the-art equipment;
- A shock photo taken with Canon’s latest lightweight lens was a big hit in the trade press;
- The agency is invited to the photo fair and it would be better in terms of image to go there with the latest photo equipment;
All these elements constitute a frame of thought in which a choice which may seem irrational at the outset will be justified a posteriori.
Utility does not weigh heavy in the face of desire
In fact, the utility criterion alone does not weigh heavily against to desires of a buyer.
Philosophers define desire differently. For Plato, desire is a personal aspiration for change brought about by a feeling of lack. Jacques Lacan defines desire as our will to conform to an ideal and external image of ourselves.
The marketing of fashion and ready-to-wear brands is precisely trying to meet these two aspirations.
Indeed, if we buy new clothes so regularly, it is not to better protect us from the cold or to avoid walking naked on the street.
We do it because on the one hand, these new clothes give us the illusion of a change by renewing our appearance.
On the other hand, these new clothes reinforce us in the idea that we improve the perception of our social position.
A shifted perception between the creator of the product and its potential buyer
However, the entrepreneur has rarely realized the importance of these unspoken aspirations.
To avoid the inconvenience of a missed launch, he must necessarily think about the positioning of his product when he designs it.
Successful positioning is not done in relation to the functionalities or problems to which we are responding, it is done in relation to to the interests and aspirations of those for whom the product is intended.
Position your product to meet aspirations
In their book “Positionning, The battle for your mind”, Al Ries and Jack Trout define positioning as the way the product will be located in the middle of all of the prospect’s cultural references.
To position yourself, you must go beyond the idea that the product you want to sell is a commodity and consider it as a cultural object.
The automobile as a cultural object
Take the example of the automobile. In the minds of an audience, a car might:
- A way for young people to emancipate themselves;
- A social positioning criterion;
- Representation of a country and its industry;
- A contributor to the emission of greenhouse gases;
- An urban development issue.
All of these are ways of defining the automobile as a cultural object. None refers to the automobile as a technical object ensuring travel.
This is why each of these points is also an opportunity for differentiating positioning vis-à-vis a specific audience.
It is with a correct initial positioning that it will be possible to build communication based on the aspirations of its target.
The example of Japanese car manufacturers in the USA
Japanese manufacturers established themselves in the United States in the late 1970s, offering a different positioning from that of local manufacturers. They offered smaller, less fuel-efficient cars.
But to impose themselves on the American market, these brands have never contented themselves with promoting lower consumption per kilometer or smaller dimensions.
Honda prefers to meet aspirations and makes Civic a desirable product
In 1988 Honda launched a new version of its flagship model, the Civic. It made it evolve by offering a 4-door model with a trunk outside the cabin.
The advertisement announcing this model featured a rollerblading walk alone and freely, illuminated by a spot as if it were a dancer on ice in representation.
The male voice of the ad said, “It is a car recognized as an economical and accessible model, but something new has appeared.”
This very rational description was in fact only used to act that Honda adapted, but did not change.
Honda highlights collusion with female urban audiences
In fact, these are the imagery that brought the real message and made the positioning of the Civic more desirable. By highlighting rollerblading, Honda combined its car with an agile mechanical means of travel, small in size and requiring no fuel.
Above all, the skate evokes a sporting, artistic and urban practice. Honda thus valued an inspiring lifestyle and a connivance strong with the female audience of the big American cities that she was targeting.
We see with this example that positioning based on functional advantages alone is not enough. You have to use the language of your audience. And in this field, images often have a greater evocative force than words.
In his book “Start with why”, Simon Sinek highlights the strength of brands that manage to position themselves by communicating with the wishes of the public. For Sinek, Apple is the most successful example of successful positioning in our time.
Failures and successes in the world of Startups
Juicero refuses to position itself
In younger sectors, these positioning may seem a priori simpler. In reality, no new technology can spare itself a reflection on its positioning and the aspirations of these prospects as demonstrated by the recent failure of the startup Juicero.
Juicero proposed a fruit juice squeezer which was fed by refills, on the model of Nespresso machines. The value proposition was: “With Juicero, you no longer have to clutter up on fruit, equipment, or do the dishes afterwards. ”
The company highlighted the following advantages:
- Fruit sachets directly purchased from the farmer;
- A powerful pressure system capable of lifting two Tesla cars;
- No waste except refills;
- Cold and healthy juices;
- A connected machine that can be operated remotely;
- A QR code system which made it possible to check the expiry date of the sachet.
Juicero will not be the Nespresso of fruit juice
None of these messages correspond to a true positioning. Juicero highlighted the rational and disparate advantages of its product. The design of the object and the technicality of the object were attractive. But it was not enough to transform the machine and its refills into a desirable product.
The company refused to position itself and found itself competing with all other means of making fruit juice, including wrist strength.
However, by being in the agricultural and fruit sectors, the company had the means to respond to many individual aspirations: health, balanced diet, responsible consumption, etc.
The company preferred to stick to its technical sheet and ignored the cultural references of its audience. Juicero imagined Nespresso fruit without being inspired by the marketing of the Swiss brand.
Indeed, Nestlé has never put forward the slightest benefit or usefulness in selling its famous coffee capsules.
The example of Smule
In 2008 Jeff Smith was already a successful Silicon Valley entrepreneur. He decided to throw part of his time to a startup in the field of music, a subject that fascinated him.
He joined forces with a doctoral student, Ge Wang, who was finishing his thesis in computer music creation. Together, they developed a social network that brought people together by allowing them to do online karaoke and compose music together.
Today, on Smule, a singer living in Strasbourg can sing in a trio composed a few minutes before with one person in Munich and the other in Beirut.
The favorite recording material is the smartphone and this ease of use makes the social network extremely popular. 50 million people use it regularly and 350 million people have used it at least once. How is the company defined?
“Smule connects the world through music”
We believe that music is more than just listening – it’s creation, of sharing, of the discovery, participation and link between people. We are the only social network capable of breaking down barriers, touch souls and reunite people around the world.
Smule presents itself in a simple and successful way. At no time is it about apps, smartphones, functions, playlist, iOS or Android compatibility.
Smule positions itself differently from its competitors and differentiates itself by setting the aspirations of its audience
In 51 words, Smule is positioned in relation to the players in music streaming and highlights what differentiates : creation, sharing, individual fulfillment and universality.
These messages convey strong emotions to which the audience of musicians is extremely sensitive.
We understand that this is a different offering and that we will not just listen passively to music. Smule awakens inspiration and leaves it to its audience to imagine the rest.
The company has given a name to its community, the Smule Nation. For the past two years, many stars have used the Smule platform in their promotion strategy by making karaoke duets with their fans.
Smule’s formula has proven itself. The company generated $ 101 million in revenue in 2017. The business is profitable thanks to a free offer financed by advertising and a paid offer offering more functions. The launch of the site in several Asian countries in 2018 promises to be promising for the company.
Define your positioning with the empathy card
The empathy map is a chart developed by the consultancy firm Xplane. It gives an overview of the motivations of our targets.
How to use it
Today it is the best tool available to work with these cultural perceptions and go beyond the simple satisfaction needed. It is most effective if we work with it from the design phase of the product.
Several versions of this card exist. For my part, here is the version I am using.
Step 1: Who
Who do you want to talk to? – Identify the person, gender and give it a name. It is not necessarily an existing person, but a typical profile that will represent your target.
Step 2: Perceptions
- What he says: these are his words, the way he formulates his problem and the difficulties he encounters;
- What he thinks and feels: it is the way he experiences his difficulties without necessarily formulating them;
- What he does: These are the actions he is taking today to solve his problem;
- What he hears: These are the beliefs and words spoken by those around him and which influence his perception of the problem.
Step 3: Pain and gains expected from a new service
- Pain: The problem experienced by the client in one sentence;
- Expected gain: How this problem can be resolved.
Case study 1: How to transfer money regularly from Europe to India
Arun, 29 – resident of Europe for 5 years and sending money monthly to his family in India. He works a lot, has few hobbies if not a few rare cinema trips. Every evening, he calls his wife and two children who have remained in India.
What he says
- “I regularly send money to my family in India. “
- “I have three dependents living there, my mother and two children. My wife’s income there is very insufficient. “
- “When I send money through money transfer agencies, I don’t know how much my wife will receive on arrival. “
- “The amount passing through banks or agencies is sometimes punctuated up to 20%, it is excessive”.
What he thinks and feels
- He wants something simple
- He attaches great importance to building a relationship of trust
- He doesn’t want to feel like he’s paying excessive commissions every time he sends money through a bank or money transfer agency
- He feels he doesn’t have many secure options for sending money to his family
What he does
- Most of the time, he prefers to send money in cash through relatives who return regularly to the country.
- He uses the services of banks or Western Union when he has no other choice
What he hears
- That the transport of cash by relatives is not safe and that sums have already been confiscated at the airport
Pain and gains
- Pain: worried that the money he sends never arrives at his destination. It is his role as a responsible father concerned with the future of his children that is at stake.
- Expected benefit: Be certain that his relatives in India will receive the money he has sent, transparently and without arbitrary and excessive commissions.
Possible responses to Arun’s perceptions
The startup Transferwise uses words that respond to Arun’s perceptions: Speed, less expense, honesty.
As for transparency, the answer is on the first page: just enter the amount to send to know the amount received. Even if in this example,
Transferwise clearly stands out from the industry leader, Western Union.
Western union does not meet Arun’s aspirations. It highlights its own “functionalities”, that is to say its distribution network.
This situation is fairly standard for a company that has been very little challenged in its history. She considers herself (rightly) as an already established cultural reference and difficult to dislodge from the spirit of the prospect.
The positioning of Western Union is therefore an opportunity for Transferwise. She responds directly to Arun.
It is regrettable, however, that the new entrant does not go further. The issue of sending money to his family is directly related to how Arun sees himself as a father. The startup could therefore reinforce its message by taking this reality into account (by using the words family, relatives, etc.).
Case study N ° 2: How to find the strength to leave the workforce and start my own business
Élise, 31, wants to leave the corporate world for an entrepreneurial project that owes only to herself. She loves art and has a high humanitarian sensitivity. She has a companion with whom she wishes to have children in the future.
What she says
- “I think I have taken the wrong path, employment is not for me”
- “I haven’t yet found the strength to get started”
- “I feel lonely and I don’t know where to start”
What she thinks and feels
- As she advances in her ideas, she is sometimes panicked by the magnitude of the task.
- She finds that the motivational coaching offers highlight success criteria that do not interest her (money, travel around the world, cars, etc.). None of these messages are suitable for who she is as a person.
What she does
- She spends her time on the internet to find examples of success stories from which she can draw inspiration.
- She reads books on management and entrepreneurship, but she prefers literature and in particular the classics
What she hears
- We’re living in an era of entrepreneurial renaissance and now’s the time to start.
- That she has a good job and that she would be wrong to let go of everything!
- That for a woman, family projects are contradictory with entrepreneurship projects!
- That people who have an artistic or humanitarian sensitivity are not made for the business world.
Pain and gains
- Pain: She feels it is time to start, but does not know where to take it.
- Expected gain: Be trusted and supported throughout the creation of businesses.
Entrepreneur Marie Forleo’s website is a very convincing response to Élise’s perceptions
On his home page, his first messages are intended to reassure a person described as unique and to give him self-confidence. For Élise, assailed by contradictory injunctions, the message is simple, but very effective.
“You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to get started.”
Its testimonials page is also very well designed. Each story takes the time to describe different situations. These testimonies highlight the fulfillment of personal aspirations.
Marie-Pier recounts how she overcame her fears and created a safe shop on her return from Berlin. Theresa talks about how she felt when she discovered the world of work and how she gained confidence and got new job opportunities.
These testimonies speak relatively little of financial success. They insist on a personal accomplishment specific to each person. This is what sets Marie Forleo apart from the vast majority of personal coaching on the market.
How to obtain information for your empathy card
Several sources can be used to establish a map of empathy. Here they are classified by degree of precision.
By analyzing Google Analytics and Facebook pixel data
Les données quantitatives peuvent constituer un début pour commencer à mettre en place une carte d’empathie.
Si vous avez une stratégie de contenu de type blog et que vous cherchez à créer un produit qui soit dédié à votre public, Google Analytics ou le pixel Facebook peuvent vous fournir un premier niveau d’information.
Les données démographiques vous permettront de dresser un début de portrait type : Âge, Sexe, Centre d’intérêt…
Les données de visites peuvent vous aider à établir un premier niveau de description des perceptions.
Pour cela, il faut analyser quels sont les articles les plus prisés, le chemin de visite, le taux de rebond/temps passé, les taux de conversion du bonus, etc.
Ces informations vous permettront de savoir quels sont les sujets dans lesquels votre cible se reconnaît le plus et quels sont les mots qui suscitent le plus d’intérêt.
En lisant des posts sur des forums/groupes Facebook et commentaires de blog
Les posts des forums et des groupes Facebook sont des sources intéressantes. C’est un lieu thématique où l’on va exprimer un blocage ou une difficulté.
Dans la mesure où ces groupes encouragent une certaine liberté de parole (vis-à-vis des marques et des entreprises), il est également possible de se faire une idée de perceptions non formulées ailleurs.
Mais la lecture des posts de forums et/ou de groupes doit également être faite avec quelques réserves. Ils regroupent souvent des publics plutôt experts avec des préoccupations qui peuvent être déjà trop formulées en termes de solution.
En envoyant un questionnaire en ligne
C’est le moyen le plus répandu pour collecter de l’information qualitative et travailler sur les perceptions. Nous pouvons poser des questions précises.
Mais pour que le questionnaire fournisse les bonnes informations, il est nécessaire d’avoir un bon échantillon.
Les échantillons les plus qualifiés sont généralement issus d’une collecte de mail sur son propre site web (newsletter, bonus).
Ils peuvent également provenir de coordonnées récupérées lors de rencontres (salons, réunions, etc.) auprès de personnes qui se souviendront de vous.
Les questionnaires postés dans des forums présentent le biais décrit plus haut. Les membres se positionnent généralement en experts du sujet et auront tendance à proposer des solutions plutôt que de présenter des problèmes et des perceptions.
Les listes gratuites offrent des taux de réponse extrêmement bas et la qualité des réponses est généralement très faible.
L’interview in situ
Si le ciblage en amont a été fait correctement, l’interview in situ est la façon la plus riche et la plus rapide d’obtenir les bonnes informations.
Nous aurons ainsi une idée précise des aspirations et des blocages du public que l’on cible. Et nous pourrons en tenir compte pour réaliser un produit désirable.
Dans la mesure du possible, il conviendra de poser des questions ouvertes autour des deux thématiques de la carte d’empathie (le qui et les perceptions) et laisser l’interlocuteur parler en l’interrompant le moins possible.
La carte d’empathie est un outil très efficace pour aboutir à un produit désirable. Mais il est très difficile d’obtenir les données exactes sur les perceptions de sa cible du premier coup.
Le portrait qu’il permet de dessiner devra donc faire l’objet de plusieurs allers-retours avant d’obtenir quelque chose de satisfaisant.
La carte d’empathie doit donc être travaillée au moment où nous couchons nos idées sur le papier, mais aussi dans les moments où nous réalisons et ajustons notre produit (blog, offre de formation/coaching, prototype, Produit minimum viable).
Et maintenant ?
Testez votre idée ou un produit que vous avez déjà lancé. Vérifiez si vous répondez à une aspiration de votre client cible.
Pour vous aider, utilisez le guide disponible ici.
Photo d’en-tête : Droits Andrés Nieto Porras – 110/365²: No te cortes… critica! – Licence Creative Commons – https://www.flickr.com/photos/anieto2k/