Last year, at the Re:Think:Analytics event , we had a short debate with Claudiu Murariu, the CEO and Founder of InnerTrends. We have briefly tapped into a delicate subject: the power of marketing to change behaviors, perceptions and attitudes. That short talk inspired us to take things a little bit further and go deeper into this sensible topic in order to better understand how things work or ideally, how things should work in a data-driven marketing world, where access to information is made easy.
But are decisions made easy as well?
Claudiu Murariu: What I observe is real, the fact that our behaviours have changed and do change regularly. The question is: what causes the change? Is it the products we consume, or the way they are marketed? And only a scientific study can truly confirm where the impact lies, because the question arises:
If i create a very poor quality product with incredible marketing, will I be able to change behaviors?
And there is a nuance particularly seen in the digital realm, because the digital world offers tools that were not available until recently or were available at costs that most of the companies couldn’t afford.
The digital world has offered a new job that has become more popular in the last year, year and a half. Better said, the role existed before as well but in the last year, with the trend of Product Led Growth trend, this role gained much more visibility and importance. The “product marketer” of a company has a great impact over the product, because he starts from the premise that “we don’t try to communicate in order to change behaviours, we communicate to mould the product on people’s needs”.
This is precisely what marketing schools have been trying to teach since forever – that the role of marketing is to identify needs and communicate on those needs, a product that was built for those specific needs. What happened in reality, up until recently, since these digital products that have appeared, along with their adaptability to change, is that a product was created and the marketer was assigned the mission to solely communicate the product – he didn’t have the power to change the product.
The only power the marketer had was to change the message and come with a better positioned one, to touch as many people and make them want that product.
Today, the product marketers rooted in the digital world have a much simpler mission, that is changing the product to make it become something that people will surely want.Claudiu Murariu
It is much simpler to change a product than to change behaviors, and all with arguably similar results.
M. G: It is actually very good that we have started the talk with that, because it has led us directly to the first official question: What are the marketing metrics that influence the improvement of a product? How would you define them? And I am referring to a data-driven approach to this specific topic.
Claudiu: The way we look at this, we have a very well grounded framework that was initially developed when marketing was more offline and with time, it migrated towards the digital.
This framework is called “jobs to be done”. Basically, a marketing expert who does not know what the “job” of his potential client is, who does not know which part of the “job” his product solves for the client, if he does not know this “job” in its tiniest detail, that marketer will walk in the dark and sometimes, maybe, he will find some sort of way out into the light.
For a change, a marketer who thoroughly understands the “jobs to be done” of their potential client, will not walk in the dark, he will know how to position the product, how to communicate it more effectively, naturally.
Marketing is not about guessing, about somehow finding a way out to the market, but more about knowing. And then, after you know the “jobs to be done”, you simply fine tune the product to appeal to your client’s emotions, to trigger that reaction you want triggered. Many people in the marketing field, without the amount of knowledge and information about their potential customers, simply walk in the dark or walk around blindfolded, hoping that at the end of the road, they will find some kind of light.
M.G: Can you tell us a bit more about these “jobs to be done”?
Claudiu: Here is the gap in understanding what things are and how they can be of help. Jobs to be done is the exact amount and type of jobs that the client performs.
For instance, when I have to go to the office, I have certain jobs I need to perform. I need to travel from A to B, I need to get dressed in order to look and feel good, I need to think about where I will be eating that day and so on. The demographic details are irrelevant. A hungry person, rich or poor, has the same need, and someone has to cover their need.
There are few very famous studies related to the “jobs to be done” and one of them refers to the milkshake. The milkshake was positioned as the ideal replacement for breakfast, the milkshake was not the coffee competitor or juice competitor, it was a breakfast competitor – they invented a fast and nutritious breakfast for people who are most of the time in a hurry to get to the office. That was their job, to wake up, have breakfast (or a milkshake) and get to the office. And this is how the milkshake got invented.
This is how “jobs to be done” works. We always look at what people want to obtain, at what they do, we don’t care who they are, where they are from or other nitty gritty details, we don’t look at the amount of money they’ve got in their pockets. Only after the “jobs to be done” are defined, we can look at the demographics, to better know how to position the product.
M.G: So we have a purely functional perspective: “we do not care who you are, we care what you do, in order for us to become able to cover some of or one of your specific needs with a product that is better than the others already on the market.”
Claudiu: The role of a marketer, or better said, of a product marketer is to uncover or discover this information.
If the product is already built, the product marketer will come and think of how it can be altered or changed to fit a specific, functional need. If the product is not built, the product marketer will offer the specifications for the creation of a new product. This is the power that marketing has – it offers all specifications to the people who can build a product that solves specific problems or needs. Once this is checked, the communication part is, I dare to say, the simplest.Claudiu Murariu
M.G: I agree with that, but the communication is made simple only if the product is indeed innovative.
M.G: And that can happen, but oftentimes doesn’t. Because on this global market there are plenty of similar products, only differentiated by their communication strategies or creative messages.
Claudiu: I know, but those products are exactly made by the people who are walking in the dark.
The thinking is “we adjust the price, we add or delete a word, we share a good picture, maybe we land a sale”.
One of the companies that invested deeply in the jobs to be done framework comes from a very interesting area – construction works, tools for construction workers. I guess that sometime in the 70’s, I am not sure of the exact period, they were not leaders on the market. There were plenty of players who were selling tools. These guys could have taken the popular route: let’s adjust the price, make some shiny materials and maybe we get some of the market.
But they didn’t.
They implemented the “jobs to be done” tactic, they went to see how the construction workers actually work, in order to understand what is exactly that they do and what problems they face.
And they discovered that a great challenge for the workers was the fact that they couldn’t perform a diagonal cut. Or they couldn’t discard the driller when they had to perform a certain action.
By gaining a very clear and functional understanding of the way in which construction workers actually work, the marketers at this company added some functionalities that we consider ordinary nowadays – they added a guiding line and made the diagonal cut possible, they added a hook to the electrical cable, so that the driller could be tied to the costume.
Cost wise, these changes were irrelevant, but from that moment on, since they started communicating “our people can cut diagonally, our people don’t drop their tools”, no one has bought tools coming from competitors and Bosch has become the no1 destination for universal tools.
There is nothing different to their driller or that drill that is the same as any other on the market. But overall, what the brand offers is better than the competition.
And the others could not copy that, this is the interesting part. Others cannot copy your product, because they haven’t the faintest idea about what you put in there. They don’t see the thinking backed by facts, they only see the advertising, the message. They cannot totally copy your advertising or communication either, but will have to adjust it and most of the time will do it poorly. Because, in fact, they don’t know the real motivation behind it, behind the change or the innovation in your product.
M.G: Is like “original is never finished”, just like the guys from Adidas used to say. A marketer needs to be extremely aware of the reality of its product, in order to bring the best solution to the table.
Claudiu: I would add one single word to what you’ve said: one must be very aware of the functional reality of their product – how exactly is the product being used. How do people order on my site? How do people drink Coca Cola? What is in somebody’s mind when they go shopping for a coat? What are the problems people have? Who must they talk to? What are their doubts? This all translates into a functional understanding of the way in which a product is used.
A good marketer knows what somebody is thinking when they use their product. And this cannot be done unless interviews and “jobs to be done” are performed and from this you learn – how to take an interview, how to write things down, how to map them, how to separate the rights from the wrongs and how to take things further.Claudiu Murariu
M.G: And if I were to resume what you said and strictly refer to what my question aimed at, the marketing metrics helping the improvement of a product. Could those be the pain points in the product category? We know what the category lacks, what the products lack, and that is exactly where we can come up with something better, based on the answers we get from people who use those products.
Claudiu: My role as a marketer is to communicate the adjustments the product needs to the guys who build it, so that I, as a marketer who has to sell the product, can cover a need that is ignored by other products. And this gives me space to communicate efficiently, to the point.
M.G: How could this become more transparent for the people that are final consumers and beneficiaries of products and services? With the product improvement tactics, marketing strategies are also meant to influence perceptions. I am talking about acquisition processes – nowadays we shop more online – and product benefits that eventually change the way we perceive slices of reality. Considering this is sensible territory, what do you think are the best practices in marketing?
Claudiu: I will give the answer from a data point of view, because I am a data professional.
These are my roots. I ventured a bit far away from my field of professional knowledge, although I studied a lot because I myself had to understand how things work.
I always used “jobs to be done” in order to understand how and when and where people work with data. And I will answer this question from a data-driven perspective. A marketer will be able to gain a very good understanding of the so-called functional reality and beyond, only if they will have data to analyze.
And this data can be collected in various ways: through interviews, tracking, hardware, data that is collected in the hardware device and that can be partly gathered and analyzed.
My purpose as a marketer is to reach a certain level of understanding about how people use my products, the products I promote, and this is why I need to collect as much data from as many possible data points. Or at least this is how the thinking went until recently: marketers needed as much data as possible.
We have now reached a point where we have immense amounts of data but we cannot use any of it, because the simple ownership of data is not sufficient to understand it or to understand the whole story behind it.
And then I think that the first step a marketer should do is to create a data strategy: what data do I need, how will I use it. A second step a marketer should do is to communicate this to consumers. Because when I tell people what I data I need from them and I explain how will that information be used, and when people understand that they too will benefit from it, the quality of data collection will be superior
M.G: And a heightened level of trust from the consumer.
Claudiu: Clearly, but this places you as a marketer in a very difficult position. GDPR has already opened this conversation on the market, but if you ask any marketer, they will tell you: I want the email address, I want the phone number, I want demographic information, how much do they earn, are they married, not married, how many kids, where do they go, etc.
They would want piles of information, because they imagine that if they have all this information, they would make much better decisions related to the promotion of products they sell. I would suggest any marketer when they write the list of all the data they need, to imagine they have a client in front of them and they ask for that data to that client. When marketers put themselves in that position, they will see this is over the top, they would almost feel ashamed to ask those kinds of questions.
But most certainly they would not be ashamed to ask “when did you last use my product? And when you used it, where were you? Was it a noisy place or not? Did anything distract you from using the product or you were able to completely focus while you were using it?” By asking those questions, I find it hard to believe that a consumer would avoid answers. And even more so, people will immediately understand where you are heading to and will also see the reasons behind the questions. You won’t even have to tell them “I need this information to improve my product”.
M.G: That is correct, and maybe people would offer even more information, more insights, we are genuinely interested in specific topics that are not so closely related to our private space. And about what you were saying earlier, that too many times marketers touch delicate areas, they break some limits that others immediately feel and react to. At a large scale, a whole wave of paranoid attitudes has arised, to a very far extreme, 5g and conspiracy theories and so on. It is very clear that the reasons for that are somewhere between all sorts of biases people have and the way things were done, to influence and nurture mistrust and extreme attitudes. And now I would like to ask you how could marketers work to avoid extremes?
Claudiu: It is a hard question. And I believe the answer lies in a place where few people expect to find it. I will dare to venture a bit on this topic. If I were to lay a number on the amount of data that is never used, I think the percentage would be somewhere around 90%.
Over 90% of the collected data is never used. And I think this is the root of this generalized fear. Because if I was asked to provide my phone number to tens, thousands of companies, if I was asked to provide my email address, a huge amount of personal data left in a huge amount of places, and if that data was never used but I know they own it and they use it, then I can only imagine weird things happening. That if my data is available to someone somewhere, weird things have happened with it and somebody uses that information to make profit.Claudiu Murariu
And this is a huge problem: data pollution.
There are immense amounts of information. Us, at InnerTrends, work with many companies that collect tenths of gigabytes of data every day, without even questioning that data one single time.
If you ask them why do you have this amount of data, why do you keep it, they will most probably do it from inertia, from this idea that this is how the market works.
I would dare to tell you that 90% of the data stocked in Google Analytics is never interrogated. The great majority of people, when they open Google Analytics, they look over 3 or 4 reports. But Google Analytics has hundreds of reports that never get to be interrogated. And then, when you have data you never analyze, you never question, that means that you never get to decide on that data, the client doesn’t see anything good going towards him based on the data he offers. It is absolutely normal, from my point of view, that people imagine obscure scenarios.
M.G: Yes, it’s a grey area indeed. Considering what you’ve said, maybe it’s normal that some of us become a little paranoid
Claudiu: Yes, it’s an absolutely natural phenomenon and I believe that the great problem here is that we are not really accountable for the amount of data we collect. If we were, and this is what GDPR slowly introduces, if we were really accountable, the client would be more trusting and the reason we collect the data would be much clearer. We are bound to always inform the reasons behind data collection but still, we collect much more data than is actually needed or reasonable.
Stay tuned for the 2nd part of our discussion. Until then, check out Claudiu’s interesting talk at the Re:Think:Analytics event that took place last year: