Create a Customer Centric Plot Before Writing the Marketing Screenplay – Part 1
How many times did it happen: we read or watch an advertisement or any other form of product or service “pitch” and struggle to understand what the product or service is really about, and why it is different from many similar ones. This is true on line perhaps even more than it was and is off line.
And it happens because in products and services communication, both in consumer goods and B2B, text and visuals tend to be more about product features and less about end-user benefits.
Rarely there is a clear and consumer centric USP (unique selling proposition). Most often the “USP’s” are too many and they are really only product features: more pixels, more speed, a new component, or even a lower price. So it is very difficult for a perspective customer of a new product to get a straight answer to the key question “what’s in it for me”. This is true for consumer products, for B2B offering and services (marketing services included!) and even for start-up pitches. If the answer to “what's in it for me” is not there or it is boring, long-winded or complicated, even a great product will lose the chance to attract customers and will be lost in the background noise of today's market conversations.
But a solution to this issue exists, and it is not a complex one.
First let’s start from the root cause of the issue. There are two of them. The first is that so many companies, brands and even start-up’s still lack in customer centricity and are too enamoured of the product or service they offer. This does not mean that the product is not important. The product is very important but not per-see, rather as the solution to an unfulfilled, relevant customer’s “job to be done”. The second reason is the inability to tell a good story, partly due to the fact that product features are too dry a material for a compelling story, and partly due to lack of structure to channel the creativity necessary to make the communication compelling and engaging. Structure and creativity are both very important.
This issue can be solved with a simple tool: a product communication “concept”. When we define a communication strategy, brief an agency or set out to write an advertisement or a product pitch, independent from the media used, we should always start from a short script that summarizes what we really want to say in our story – like a script or plot is the place to start for a movie screenplay. A good business communication or advertisement is like a small story: it needs structure, and it needs creativity to make it come to life and become engaging. The former is needed for the latter to work, even more so in a business environment than it is in entertainment. And, the plot of a good communication starts from a good insight of what the customer needs or “jobs to be done” are. (For a description of what a “job to be done” is, see our previous post on the subject)
Indeed, all the building blocks of a compelling story are present in good customers’ insights expressed in a “job to be done”: who is the customer that should benefit more from “hiring” the product, in which circumstances does she need it most, what is the specific and important “job” that she needs doing and that cannot be done satisfactorily with existing solutions. This knowledge is difficult to attain, but when we have it, building a good concept is easy. Similar to all good stories it will have the following parts, which you will blend into a coherent narrative. Let’s be clear: this is not yet a creative treatment, it must be written in plain customer language.
- Protagonist: the customer, the buying persona
- Context: a circumstance or situation recognizable by the customer when the need for a job arises
- Trigger issue: the point of difficulty, an unfulfilled part of the job today or a job that simply can’t be done
- Challenge to overcome: the desired end point that must be achieved to make the job successful for the customer
- Solution: a product or service that will address the challenge and help the protagonist doing the job
- Explanation: a connection between the end result and the product features
- Conclusion: the call to action
A good concept will read easily when it is done. But it takes a lot of customer knowledge to write it. This is only the beginning of course, because then the concept will be turned into communication, the full “screenplay” will be developed through relevant creative ideas, right language and the appropriate combination of media. However, a clear hypothesis of the customer issues and of the solution our products might offer is a necessary starting point to save a lot of issues down the line. A side but key point: because it is rooted in customer language, a strong concept will also help defining the best “keywords” to be found on the web. So, can you write the concept for your next great idea? In the next installment we will discuss a practical example.
Renzo Rizzo is Managing Partner of Marketing Blu, a branding, digital strategy and product design consulting firm. We team up with our clients to shape marketing and business ideas, and to bring them to the market successfully. Our projects start with the “why” of a product, brand or business as a solid foundation for the “how”: defining and executing the marketing plans that turn ideas into market success.
This post was originally published in Blog Blu, Marketing Blu's blog.