“Hire” This Question to Bring Lift to Your Marketing

lift to your marketing

By Keith Reynold Jennings, {grow} Contributing Columnist

Tension seems to follow marketers wherever they go.

There is perpetual tension between CEOs and marketers. There are historic tensions between sales leaders and marketers. There are tensions between marketers and their agency partners.

Heck, there’s often tension between marketers!

Years ago, I was introduced to a question that significantly resolved these tensions as soon as I started using it. It has consistently brought lift to each group I’ve used it with. Here is the question:

“What job are we hiring   x   to do in this situation?”

“X” simply represents the strategy, tactic, or channel being recommended and considered.

In this article, I want to show you how to use this question to bring lift to your marketing as well as the stakeholder relations surrounding it. More importantly, I want to encourage you to start using this question in every marketing situation.

Let’s start with a scenario to tee up how you can tap into the power of this question.

“To Place Billboards or Not?” That Is The (Wrong) Question

Imagine you are the vice president of planning and marketing for a regional hospital system. Over the past few months, one of your hospital’s top producing surgeons has been asking (um, demanding) that the hospital place billboard ads in certain parts of town.

No surprise, those certain parts of town happen to be the route he drives to and from the hospital campus daily.

Of all the marketing channels and tactics that exist, why is this doctor fixated on billboards? Because he keeps driving by the competition’s billboards daily.

You’ve tested billboards in the past and your research consistently found them to be ineffective at driving awareness or engagement in your region. As a matter of fact, your research revealed that most locals can’t even accurately recall the billboards they’ve passed hundreds of times in town.

What decision would you make?

Would you sacrifice a portion of your already limited budget to appease the surgeon and place the billboards?

Or would you stick to your data and experience and respectfully decline the request?

Typically, marketers default to a question like, “Is there a measurable ROI if we place these billboards?” But this is the wrong question. As a matter of fact, this question could lead to a decision that escalates tensions with the surgeon, medical staff and hospital CEO.

Why? Because that question blinds us to what’s really driving this surgeon’s request.

I believe the wisest answer in the above scenario, and the wisest answer in any marketing scenario, is it depends on the real job needing done.

We Hire Everything to Do Jobs in Our Lives

You and I hire people, products, services, places and ideas to do certain jobs in our lives.

Each of these “jobs” come with a one-of-a-kind mix of functional, emotional, relational and spiritual elements.

  • By functional, I’m referring to how/if the solution works.
  • By emotional, I’m referring to how the solution makes us feel.
  • By relational, I’m referring to how the solution connects us to others.
  • By spiritual, I’m referring to how the solution contributes to the greater good.

After a sleepless night, I may “hire” a cup of coffee for the functional job of a caffeine lift. In another situation, I may “hire” that cup of coffee for the emotional job of enjoyment. In a different situation, I may “hire” that same cup of coffee for the relational job of meeting a friend. Or I may hire that cup of java for the spiritual job of supporting ethical coffee bean farming and sourcing practices.

Most likely, in most situations, I’m hiring a cup a coffee to do a mix of these and other functional, emotional, relational and spiritual jobs all at once.

Great Marketing Transcends the Functional

Businesses hire marketing to do a variety of jobs: brand awareness, lead generation, search optimization, advertising, etc.

But these jobs aren’t limited to their functional elements.

Take brand awareness. There are functional reasons a business seeks brand awareness. But there are also emotional, relational and sometimes spiritual reasons they seek brand awareness too. And these non-functional “jobs” are often of higher importance to key stakeholders, yet they remain unknown to myopic marketers.

Let’s reflect back on our surgeon scenario.

Let’s ask the question, “What job is he wanting us to hire billboards to do in this situation?”

Functionally, we know billboards don’t work based on our data. Plus, the surgeon hasn’t said anything about these billboards generating new or more business.

However, after having a heart-to-heart conversation with our surgeon, we discover that he feels the hospital is taking him for granted. He keeps seeing the competitor promote its top surgeons, yet his hospital won’t.

Our surgeon isn’t asking us to hire billboards to do a functional marketing job. He’s asking us to hire billboards to do an emotional/relational job. He wants the hospital to publicly show its support and appreciation for his ongoing loyalty and contributions.

Maybe we decide to place the billboards. Maybe we don’t. But the marketing decision should be based on a holistic view of the real job the surgeon (or CEO or sales leader or client) wants done.

A powerful result of asking this “job” question is that it opens up new opportunities to explore. Instead of hiring billboards to show the hospital’s support for the surgeon, maybe we collective agree a local feature story with a series of print ads would best do the job. And, maybe, we could to this job with greater impact at less cost.

By publicly and openly exploring jobs to be done through their functional, emotional, relational and spiritual lenses, it prevents us from hiring the wrong solution to do the wrong job — the source driving most CEO/CMO malalignment, marketer/agency malalignment and marketer/marketer malalignment.

What Jobs Are You Hiring Marketing to Do?

Now that you better understand why this question is so powerful and practical, it’s time to put it to work.

Step 1: Ask, “What job are we hiring x to do in this situation?”

Step 2: Seek to understand the functional, emotional, relational and spiritual expectations each stakeholder brings to that job to be done.

Here are some “job” questions to start exploring with your team, CEO, agency and other stakeholders:

  • What job are we hiring marketing to do this year/month?
  • What job are we hiring a new logo to do?
  • What job are we hiring this post to do?
  • What job are we hiring this email campaign to do?
  • What job are we hiring this podcast to do?
  • What job are we hiring this video to do?
  • What job are we hiring this webinar to do?
  • What job are we hiring this event to do?
  • What job are we hiring this sponsorship to do?
  • What job are we hiring this ad to do?
  • What job are we hiring this newsletter to do?
  • What job are we hiring this social channel to do?
  • What job are we hiring this form to do?
  • What job are we hiring this research to do?
  • What job are we hiring these analytics to do?
  • What job are we hiring this booth to do?
  • What job are we hiring this event to do?
  • What job are we hiring this press release to do?
  • What job are we hiring this autoresponder to do?
  • What job are we hiring this contest to do?
  • What job are we hiring this agency to do?
  • What job are we hiring these keywords to do?
  • What job are we hiring this influencer to do?
  • What job are we hiring this book to do?
  • What job are we hiring this speech to do?
  • What job are we hiring this chatbot to do?

Let’s turn this on me. What job did I hire this post to do?

  • Functionally, I hired this post to fulfill my monthly commitment to Mark Schaefer and to gather feedback on whether this technique works for you.
  • Emotionally, I hired this post to feel like I helped you in a valuable, actionable way.
  • Relationally, I hired this post to connect with more of you and grow my network of smart marketers I can learn from. (And I want Mark to be proud he asked me to contribute to his blog!)
  • Spiritually, I hired this post to improve the impact marketers like you can have on those you serve.

Most professionals I know aren’t working to merely be functionally competent marketers. They want to enjoy their work, be recognized and appreciated by others, and contribute to something bigger than themselves.

What job will you hire this post to do?

Source Notes: I learned everything I shared in this article from Clayton Christensen’s work on jobs theory. I encourage you to check these out, if you want to go deeper:

Keith Reynold Jennings serves as vice president of community impact for Jackson Healthcare. He writes and speaks at the intersection of values, impact and identity. Connect with Keith via Linkedin and his monthly newsletter.

 

 

 

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