Naming As The First Step

Knowing what to call something is surprisingly important.

Getting the name right is not as important.

But those moments at the very onset of something new are vital. Committing to give what lies before you a name and calling it that has turned out to be crucial to all success I’ve encountered.

When you have a name, then you have the possibility of your team understanding the vision/objective/goal/strategy. When you don’t have a name, then it’s practically guaranteed misunderstanding and inefficiencies will exist. And those are the heart disease and cancer of teamwork.

To extend the thought: thus, branding early isn’t too soon of a project. Especially since it impacts the quality of the package.

Summarizing Job To Be Done Theory

Over the past several months, I’ve found myself explaining Job To Be Done theory (JTBD) to friends, colleagues, and strangers, and each time I’ve learned more about how to summarize it. I wanted to gather all my thoughts into a concrete article so that in the future when I’m attempting to explain JTBD, I can just link them to this. I hope you find this valuable too.

Job To Be Done theory states that all consumers hire a product or service to do a job for them. Marketers and businesses should thus segment not based on demographics or psychographics, but on the situation a consumer is in where he or she attempts to complete a job. Brands who get this build a product or service around that singular job to be done. They put their entire company’s weight towards it, and become what’s known as a “purpose brand”. When you think quick furniture you can put in your compact car, who do you think of? It was probably IKEA. Its brand immediately popped into your head because it’s purpose-driven.

IKEA, as mentioned above, is a great first example. It has never been copied because it doesn’t segment based on demographics or income or whatever else. It re-segmented the furniture buying market by focusing on a singular job: quickly furnishing a room/apartment/house with well designed products. The entire company is integrated towards that end. Manufacturing, shipping, catalogs, websites, even the buying experience. And don’t forget about the brand-famous home assembly process. You can learn more about Clayton Christensen‘s insight on IKEA in this 5-minute video.

The “milkshake example” is the quintessential moment where Christensen and his colleagues flushed out the theory. It’s the most widely talked about anecdote available. This 5-minute video of Clayton giving a snazzy lecture recaps it.

This HBR article gives a good overview of how the theory is used to re-segment markets. It also includes an original explanation of the milkshake example.

Bob Moesta is one of the initial pioneers of the theory. He runs a consultancy called The Rewired Group, and has a list of resources. This Forbes article gives a quick example of one of his most famous anecdotes to explain the theory.

Bob and Chris Spiek give an excellent overview of JTBD put up against how people buy homes in this short seven-minute video.

I have purchased the two major HBR and MIT articles Clayton published introducing the theory in grand scale. I encourage you to pick up a copy.

Finally, for the more adventurous, Horace Dediu hosted Bob on his Critical Path podcast. An excellent hour-long discussion ensued that recapped many of the stories above, as well as additional insight. It’s very engaging, enlightening, and the best teaching tool for the theory. But it is an hour.

Quick-Leap Marketing

Lately, I’ve used the term “Quick-Leap Marketing” to describe language that makes your target audience instantly understand how your product can fit into their lives as quickly and easily as possible. Instant Oh, I can see using that is possibly the quickest way to convert a prospect to a happy customer.

The key to get there is language. More specifically, a common set of words—a base that can engage as many minds as possible. You might call this a “least common denominator” approach. I can sympathize if your neck hair rose accordingly. The phrase gets a bad rap; it has unfairly become associated with the ills of this world.

Let’s look at some examples. When you make a product for businesses—or better yet the enterprise—a narrowed set of language is possible, and even preferable, because the target audience has their own set of vocabulary. But it must be common to the audience nonetheless. Here’s an example from a product I was researching:

Speed and quality of communication is vital in today’s competitive environment. Whether it’s announcing financial results to investors, launching a product or keeping staff informed, how you communicate makes a difference.Your meetings need to come off without a hitch and appear seamless to your audience.

We may frown at that paragraph. We might provide a cynical jab at its culture. But that would be wrong. See, this is the language its audience actually uses. So speak it, and help them make the quick mental leap of where you can fit in their lives.

Now lets focus on something bigger: the general consumer. When selling a consumer product, the common set of language must be as basic as possible. We can’t segment based on an enterprise vertical. We can’t use jargon. We can’t seek out specificity.

Compare Apple and Android. Apple markets with family, love, and life experience. That’s their language set. Android resellers use technical language like specs, robots, and acronyms.

An example iPhone commercial:

An example Android commercial:

An example iPad commercial:

And finally, and example Android tablet commercial:

When you look at how Apple and Android market, you realize that the basic set of language used predetermines the audience scope. Choose your words, visuals, sounds, and emotions wisely so that the right users can make the quick leap.