Why We Buy with Katelyn Bourgoin

Lauren Volpi's headshot on a blue background

Katelyn Bourgoin is a 4x founder turned growth strategist and trainer. She understands the challenges business leaders face because she’s been there herself. With operational experience spanning the marketing, tech, and hospitality sectors, Katelyn has been named as an influential entrepreneur by Forbes magazine and featured in Inc., HuffPost, Bustle, CBC, CTV, Global TV and more. Katelyn is recognized as one of the “top 20 wonder women of SaaS marketing and growth” by SaaStock. Katelyn’s past clients include high-growth tech startups, SMBs, business support organizations, and Fortune 500 companies like Target and Holiday Inn. She has delivered in-person and online training with prestigious accelerators and incubators worldwide. Today Katelyn helps frustrated founders, marketers, and salespeople to focus on what really matters—their customers. After all, whoever gets closer to the customer wins.

Here are a few of the topics we’ll discuss on this episode of Long Story Short:

  • Using the principles of buyer psychology to get into the minds of your customers
  • Why your customer’s perspective is your most valuable asset
  • The power of understanding your customers’ decision-making process – and why it’s essential for marketers
  • The best tactics to create messaging that resonates every single time
  • How Barnum Statements are a marketer’s secret weapon, and how to use them effectively
  • Why B2B purchases are MORE emotional than B2C purchases

Resources:

Competing Against Luck – Clayton Christensen

Demand-Side Sales 101 – Bob Moesta

When Coffee and Kale Compete – Alan Klement

Clarity Call Cheatsheets

Why We Buy Newsletter

The Choice Factory – Richard Shotton

What Your Customer Wants and Can’t Tell You – Melina Palmer

Alchemy – Rory Sutherland

Nudge – Phill Agnew

 

Connect with Katelyn:

CustomerCamp

LinkedIn

Twitter

Connect with the Host:

Jeff Sirkin on LinkedIn

 

Connect with Sirkin Research:

Website

Twitter

Instagram

LinkedIn

Jeff Sirkin:
Hello and welcome back to another episode of Long Story Short, the podcast about storytelling and connection. I’m your host, Jeff Sirkin. On this show we talk to people making a difference as marketers, entrepreneurs, and social impact advocates. We dig into actionable strategies and tactics to help you connect with your audience and keep your finger on the pulse of your market. My guest this week is Katelyn Bourgoin. She is a Forbes times founder, turn growth strategist and trainer. She understands the challenges business leaders face because she’s been there herself. With operational experience spanning the marketing, tech and hospitality sectors, Katelyn has been named as an influential entrepreneur by Forbes Magazine and featured in Inc, HuffPost, Bustle, CBC, CTV, Global TV, and more. Katelyn is recognized as one of the top 20 wonder women of SaaS marketing and growth by SaaS Stock. Her past clients include high growth tech startups, small medium size businesses, business support organizations and Fortune 500 companies like Target and Holiday Inn.

Jeff Sirkin:
She’s delivered in person an online training with prestigious accelerators and incubators worldwide. Today, Katelyn helps frustrated found, marketers and sales people to focus on what really matters. Their customers. After all, whoever gets closer to the customer wins. This episode is a real masterclass from Katelyn on why we buy and the buyer psychology that drives decision making. As marketers our job is to show prospects how our products and services can make them into better versions of themselves. We go deep into what it means to understand your customers and buyers, and we get into tactics that you can use today. So, without further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Katelyn Bourgoin. Hi, Katelyn. Thanks for coming on Long Story Short.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
Thanks for having me.

Jeff Sirkin:
So, today’s episode is all about why we buy. And you and I both help our clients get in the mind of their buyers. And I would love to hear from your perspective, how did you come to recognize the power of understanding your customers in the first place?

Katelyn Bourgoin:
Well, like many people who become incredibly passionate about something in business, it’s often by making a lot of mistakes and then thinking there’s got to be a better way. So, to make the long story short, essentially, I had run an advertising agency early in my career. I had a restaurant consulting business and decided, hey, I’m doing these service businesses. I want to do something a bit more scalable. I should launch a tech company because that can’t be hard, right?

Jeff Sirkin:
Of course.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
And it’s very hard. Spoiler alert, very hard. But we were able to get some traction. We raised money from investors. We grew the platform. We are being called the next LinkedIn for women by Forbes. But like internally everything was going wrong. So, as a marketer, we were great at getting new users to join the platform. But we hadn’t built the right thing.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
And so would come in, they’d take a look around, they wouldn’t really remain active. They wouldn’t really invite their friends. And so as a network, we were screwed. And so I ended up closing down that company and trying to figure out what the heck am I going to do next. And one of our lead investors came to me and said, “Hey, you are good at marketing. And we’ve got all of these technical founders who suck at marketing, can you help them?” And I was like, “Yeah, absolutely.” Because I’m broke and this would be a good opportunity for me to make some money consulting. So, started working with all of these great founders and sat down at the boardroom with them and we would very quickly realized that they were struggling with a similar problem.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
They also didn’t understand who their best customers were. They didn’t understand why those customers bought. And because of that, they were building this great software that nobody understood that they needed. And so saw this over and over, realized it was a problem. And I was like, well, maybe I should start focusing on helping people to understand who their best customers are. And that became my obsession. That was about I guess, 2018. And through that journey discovered Jobs to be Done, Jobs to be Done really changed to the way I thought about it. Because like, oh wait a minute. It’s not about who the customers are. That’s important, but it’s really more about what those customers are trying to achieve and who they’re trying to become.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
And if you can figure that piece out, then you really have what you need to be able to get people excited about what you’re creating. And so fast forward. Today, almost four years later, it’s the core focus of my business. We deliver training, helping people to better understand their buyers. Primarily through qualitative research, which is something I’m excited to chat with you about. Because I know that you’re on the other end, you do a lot of quantitative research. And so that’s how I got here. But essentially it was launching a company, having every reason to think it would be a success and having it be a big old stinker. And seeing that I wasn’t alone. And, in fact, this was a really, really big problem for a lot of really smart teams.

Jeff Sirkin:
I love that. And again, I just want to share because it sounds very similar to my story again. But I love when people are solving problems that they themselves had. So, I came from the world of analytics and so I was doing work with a growth stage healthcare company. And it’s a great product. If you don’t have health insurance, it saves you 50% when buying a prescription in the US and it’s free. They called themselves a prescription savings card. And we kept hearing customers refer to the product as a prescription discount card. Almost the same, a synonym of course. And then keyword research confirmed for us that prescription discount card gets seven times the search volume that prescription savings card does. So, we literally worked with them to change their messaging, to align with what the market was looking for. Their natural search traffic grew by five X in six months. And the point is the reason this was such an unlock for me is they were 99% of the way there. But so much of that value was tied up in the last mile-

Katelyn Bourgoin:
Which happens all the time, right?

Jeff Sirkin:
Yeah. Yes. But that for me just got the wheels turning.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
And often times people missed it because … I love that you shared that the insight that led to you digging deeper into the analytics was that they kept hearing their customers talk about it in a different way. And the language that customers use or perspective buyers use it is so compelling when it comes to figuring out how to better frame what you’re offering, how to write copy that’s really resonating with your perspective customers.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
And it’s something that a lot of teams are missing out on because they’re either not talking to customers for the point of doing research. Or they are not looking to really understand things from the customer’s perspective. A lot of teams build a solution to scratch their own itch as both of us have. But in doing that, oftentimes assume that they have the answers. And they’re in fact really biased. And so I love that insight came from a qualitative insight.

Jeff Sirkin:
Always. Always. And I’m sure we’ll get into that too. So, I want to just kind of take a step back again and just kind of hit some of this at a high level in terms of what are the things that you see and you mentioned Jobs to be Done. What are some of the things specifically that you sort of focus on around? What are those key things that you need to identify to be able to help your clients find that are going to be those unlocks for them?

Katelyn Bourgoin:
The biggest tool that I’ve found, and it is so powerful and surprisingly challenging to get teams to do it consistently. But the biggest tool that I’ve found that helps you to kind of unlock these details are one-on-one interviews with people who have actually bought. And the reason I think teams are resistant to this is they think this is going to be about market research. They think it’s about asking them, what do you think of our product? And what features should we build next? And all of that stuff, it has its place and it can be helpful, but that’s not the purpose of the interview I’m talking about. The interview I’m talking about, the goal is to understand what was going on in the buyer’s real life. The stuff that you can’t track with analytics, or that is more difficult to track, that led them through the process of first being triggered to realize they had a problem in the first place, all the way through to discovering your product, considering your product, buying your product, using your product. You want to get all of the details of their story.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
And there’s so much great insight in that story that marketers that are solely taking a analytical approach are missing out on. And it’s so interesting because when people think about the buying journey, it’s commonly thought of as all of the touch points that customers have with your brand. But there’s this huge piece that they miss out on, which is what happens before they discover your brand? What leads them to you? What other solutions did they try that didn’t work? Who did they talk to? Who helped them to rethink about their problem in a way that led them to think that your solution might be the right one? Because if you can get that piece of the story and that piece of the story is dark, you can’t discover it through your own tools.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
You need to ask people and you need to ask them, and then you need to be able to ask followup questions that, oh, so tell me more about that. And what made that feel like the right choice? And then what did you do? And so this tool, this idea of understanding the buyer’s journey and doing an interview where you’re basically asking them to map it for. You’re kind of retracing every step. That’s become one of the most valuable tools that I’ve found to inform some really unconventional and smart marketing that just is isn’t obvious without those insights.

Jeff Sirkin:
Yeah. I love that. And we think of it, for us we’re looking for the big three as we sort of refer to them that we’re always looking for. The pain points. What are their challenges and obstacles that the buyer is trying to overcome? Priorities, and this is not priorities specifically, but who they aspire to be. And I think that’s really a big one that I want to dig into. But then the other piece that’s super important is the language of the market, because it isn’t enough to understand your buyer. You need to speak it in their language.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
That’s right. Yeah, absolutely. And I mean, Joanna Wiebe, she’s one of the world’s top conversion copywriter. She kind of coined the term. And she’ll say, she is like, “I don’t write copy. The best ideas are not waiting in my head. They’re best spoken by your prospects and you need to go and get that. And that’s how you write good copy.” Yet so many teams hire a copywriter. Don’t give them time or budget for upfront research and then are disappointed when and that new sales page or that new ad doesn’t convert the way they’d hoped. And the reality is, well, how is your copywriter who may have some empathy for your customers, but likely is not really an ideal fit for you as a business. How are they supposed to just put themselves in the shoes of your customers, if you don’t give them time to actually we go out and engage those customers.

Jeff Sirkin:
Well, I think another thing we forget so often is that unless you’re in a magical company, that markets to marketers, you as a marketer are marketing to a role that you don’t fit into. So, you are not in the shoes of your audience. And frankly, I mean, I encourage everybody to think about that for a second. How many of you are actually in your own ICP? How many of you would actually fit your own target customer? And for the most part you don’t. So, essentially you need to be able to hear from them there isn’t, sort of to your point, like the magic that’s sort of jumping around in your head, that’s just waiting to be put on paper.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
That’s right. And one of the things that I say too sometimes is empathy doesn’t travel through osmosis. In a lot of teams, what they’ll say is like, okay, we’ll go and listen to a sales call. Or talk to the founders. The founders were the ICP and that’s why they built the product and they can give you all the answers. And the reality is listening on sales calls can be really, really compelling. But again, there’s a completely different conversation happen when somebody who is not a customer yet, and they know that they’re trying to be sold to.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
It’s not the same conversation as that reflection of why they actually bought and pulling out the whole buying story. And so it just doesn’t get you to the same place. But because marketers are so often not given access, direct access to customers, they’re trying to rely on the team and the sales team to kind of give them these insights about the customer. But just hearing it from some third party is not the same as hearing it directly out of the mouths of customers.

Jeff Sirkin:
I couldn’t agree more. And again, not to say that personas are not a worthwhile exercise, but what happens is if you actually take a step back, how much of personas and marketing is built around assumptions? The assumptions that we’ve now just reaffirmed within the four walls of our companies and, oh, well, sales told me this so that must be true. But in reality, all of that is coming from inside our walls and not from the mouths of our customer.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
Yeah. To that point, I’m a big believer that personas are great, but they’re usually done really poorly. So, the value in personas is in the actual act of doing the research that goes into making personas research-backed. If that doesn’t happen, if it’s an internal exercise with some stickies and everybody kind of shooting ideas out, or you just take a look at your data and go, well, it seems like we’re getting a lot of traffic from people in this area. Let’s make sure that’s in our persona. If they’re not research back, the exercise will feel really good and it will be hollow. It’s like eating a burger before you do a run for a marathon. It’s going to give you like a short burst of energy that’s going to feel great, but it’s not going to give you the fuel you need to sustain. So, we’re totally on the same page around that.

Jeff Sirkin:
So, can you just briefly sort of explain what the Jobs to be Done theory really means because again, and how that relates to so often when we see companies and again, whether it’s something as simple as an alarm clock or as complex as any other product. But they’re so focused sort of on their own product features.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
Absolutely. I’ll tell you a little bit of the history of jobs because I think it will make it clear how it came to be. So, it’s an evolution with a lot of different people who have been helping to kind of propel this theory and they would call it a theory. And really it’s a theory to understand why people buy. What makes somebody switch from an alternative solution to a new one or make somebody adopt something new. And some of the people behind it, one of them is Clayton Christensen. And Clayton was a, he was considered one of the foremost experts on innovation. He was a Harvard Business Professor. And throughout his decades of his career, he would have the top CEOs from the world’s largest companies coming to him and asking him help us innovate, show us how we can innovate.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
And so he kept studying different companies and seeing the ones that would successful in the ones that weren’t. And trying to figure out why are some successful and others aren’t. And essentially what he discovered was something that flew in the face of what most marketers believed, which is we are way too focused on understanding more and more about the customer on correlation between who the customer is. Like these shared attributes like demographics or firmographics if you’re looking at a business. Where that’s actually leading us in the wrong direction, because that’s not the reason why people buy. People don’t buy things because there are 37 year old mom who lives in a small city and drives a minivan. That’s all correlation stuff. It’s not actually causation. The causation stuff, that’s what he calls the job. Essentially the job is the progress that somebody’s trying to make in a particular context.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
And we will pull products into our lives to help us to do a job the same way that we might a person to help us to do a job. We have a criteria of what a good job looks like and we need it to work in our context. And if the product works well and it helps us to make the progress that we’re trying to make, then we’re happy and we will tell people about it and we’ll keep paying for it. And if it doesn’t work well, or perhaps it stops working because the context of our situation changes, then we’ll fire it and we’ll start looking for something new to hire. And when you start realizing that it’s not about examining the person per se, but it’s about examining what it is that they’re trying to achieve, the progress that they’re trying to achieve. And the context of their situation and understanding all of the emotional, social and functional dimensions of that job.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
So, how do I look? How do I want to look to others when I’m doing this? How do I want to feel when I’m doing this? What criteria matter to me, functionally about finding the right solution? When you start to bring all of that into your lens, now you can see the bigger picture and now you have a sense of what job is. And then you can figure out, okay, so we’re going after people that have this job to do, they might look differently demographically or even firmographically if you’re selling to businesses. But they all have the same job to do. And now we can be really focused on how we talk about our product, who we compare ourselves to in the market and what new features we build or don’t build because they are really meaningful for that core set of customers.

Jeff Sirkin:
I think that’s so important. And to me, I think even just to summarize at a really high level, fundamentally, it’s about making this story about your customer. That they are the hero of this story. And so often, and I think about this and I see this now so often just in my day to day, is if the first thing on a company’s website is we’ve been around since 1962. You’re telling a story about you. But ultimately what you haven’t done yet is tell your customer what you can help them to become.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
Absolutely. Kathy Sierra has a wonderful quote. She says, “Upgrade your user, not your product.” Don’t build better cameras, build better photographers. And if you think about it, before the iPhone came around and now everybody essentially has a high Def camera in their pocket with amazing filters and you can post your pictures on Instagram and make them look even better. And you’ve got all these editing tools. Before that happened most people had a digital camera. Some people had a really nice one. And now some of the world’s best known photographers, these people who are creating content for Instagram, content for TikTok, having millions, tens of millions of followers, they’re not using a $4,000 camera. They’re using something that they can fit in their pocket. And that tool made better photographers. It wasn’t about upgrading the camera. It was about upgrading the user. And suddenly people who might not have considered themselves to be photographers were able to use this tool to make them come create amazing photos.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
So, it’s really, when you understand the customer, you understand the context of their situation, that’s where you can start doing really cool things. I love, one thing that Zoom does that I think is just brilliant is Zoom has now, because we’re all Zooming. It’s become a verb. They’ve done some really smart things like as a person who’s about to go on Zoom, you care about what you look like to the other person on the other end. And so suddenly everybody’s doing Zoom calls from their bedroom, which we talked about too. And they don’t necessarily want to show the messy bed in the background. And so zoom adding the blur feature. It’s them understanding the social of the job. This idea make me look good to others. I want to look like I have my shit together.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
I don’t want them to see the mess behind me. And Zoom has filters now that you can put on a little bit of makeup or smooth up your skin, or pump up your lighting. All of this is understanding the social dimensions of the job. So, it’s not just about, can I have high quality video that does break. It’s about also, can I look good to the person on the other end of that camera? So, there’s so much that goes into really understanding your customers that allow you to create innovations that maybe your competitors aren’t even thinking about.

Jeff Sirkin:
Well, and I think the other thing there is, it’s not that products and companies are not necessarily going to win on and the specific technical capabilities, right? It’s about making their customers be a better version of themselves.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
That’s right.

Jeff Sirkin:
But that’s the answer. And that’s so often is, because what I see so much out in the market is our processors are 7% faster, X, Y, Z. And so on one hand, A, you’re only talking to a very small subset of people, the people that are in an active buying cycle. So, you’re missing sort of a big portion of the other people that are maybe more passively looking. But the other piece of that is, again, that’s not even ultimately what’s going to make the purchase decision at the end of the day.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
No. I mean, Apple is the best example of this. When Apple started telling, when Steve Jobs came back after he’d been forced out and then they cut their product line down to like from a whole bunch of different products, they were trying to service the B2B market and they went down to like three computers, I think. And he said, “We’re not going to talk about megahertz anymore or RAM.” Yeah, that’s going to be on the product page. You’re going to be able to get there, but that’s not it. And it was such a stark difference from the way that other people were talking about computers. And of course that worked out. Today still like how many people own Apple products and couldn’t tell you one of the specs of them, but are still proud of them and still love using them.

Jeff Sirkin:
My wife actually worked on a competitor of the iPod at the time in the early 2000s. And the whole thing was the iPod was not technically the best product in the market, but it’s the one that dominated and ultimately won because of the way it made their customers feel. Not because of the technical specs.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
Absolutely. And to use Apple as an example. My sister and her boyfriend are both pretty technical geeky people. They work for video game companies. He’s a programmer, she’s a digital artist. And they hate Apple products, because in their social circle they know that they’re not the most superior. They’re not the best products technically. And so there’s almost like a status to not having them, to being able to see above the marketing and to have an improved product in their mind. So, in their social circle, there’s something above that. And so if you’re one of their competitors and you’re trying to narrow out kind of a niche in the market go after these programmers, these video people. The people that actually understand those specs and there’s clout for them in not buying into them marketing. So, it’s really, again, just about understanding your customers.

Jeff Sirkin:
Well, I think another theme that we keep coming back to is the fact that buying decisions both in B2C and B2B are ultimately made emotionally. And I think we see them and especially I hear this a lot that in B2B that it’s all logic and it’s just about showing the ROI product can help you achieve. But from your perspective, what would you say is the role of emotion when it comes to purchase decisions?

Katelyn Bourgoin:
Well, science would say that it’s everything. So, there have been multiple studies that have been done on purchase decisions. And this idea that we are making them rationally is complete bupkis. 95% of what’s being buying decisions are these unconscious urges. And the biggest of which is emotion. Essentially we are being pushed and we are being pulled by our urges, our emotional urges, and then we’re justifying our decisions with logic. And so while particularly in a B2B setting, you need to be able to justify your decision. You need to be to point to what we chose this solution because yada, yada, yada. You’re not going to say in your presentation to the C-suite that you’re choosing a particular MarTech software because you know that it’s going to be the safe bet and you’re not going to lose your job. Even though there’s this other one that is really cool, but not the safe bet. And therefore you’re not even considering it. You’re not going to tell them that. The reality is that the way that we make decisions are emotional and business is an incredibly emotional arena.

Jeff Sirkin:
Yes.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
There’s so much locked up. It’s your whole livelihood, your ego, your family’s future. So, it’s an incredibly emotional arena. And to think that in a B2B context, people are making purely logical decisions is completely foolish. And the fact that some business leaders still claim that, that’s how they make decisions just goes to show the lack of self-awareness of that leadership.

Jeff Sirkin:
Yeah. I mean, frankly, I would even argue that B2B has more emotion built into it because if you, the example you gave before we started recording here is if you buy a shampoo that you don’t like, okay, you can stop using it. And it doesn’t affect anybody else. But if you’re in a business and you buy a wrong piece of MarTech software, A, it’s going to set the company back hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of dollars. That could end up being detrimental to you personally in your career. The right purchase decision can get you promoted. It can get you all of this authority within your organization. It can get you fired.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
That’s right.

Jeff Sirkin:
The wrong purchase, right? So-

Katelyn Bourgoin:
April Dunford has this joke. She says she spent a lot of her career working with big enterprise tech companies. And she says, “One of the running jokes is nobody gets fired for choosing IBM.” If you are an enterprise buyer it’s risky to go for the new entrant. Even if their solution might technically feature wise, be it improvement for you and your organization. When you suggest IBM, you’re sheltering yourself from risk. When you suggest this new entrant, that’s doing some really cool new things, but they’ve only raised one round of funding. They could be gone in two months. That’s risky for you. And so thinking again, as a product creator or a marketing team or a sales team behind that product. You need to understand those emotions. You need to be able to de-risk as you talk about all of the glitzy cool new features, and then you start comparing yourself to the entrenched competitors that everybody knows and trust.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
And you say we’re so much better than IBM. You need to understand that might not be the best comparison to give, because you’re actually benchmarking yourself against something that is known and trusted. So, it’s really about, again, through conversations with customers, through surveys, through just understanding their motivations and the buying process. That’s how you start to figure out how to consistently kind of improve your message. And this is the thing that I also want to touch on because I think that it gets overshadowed a lot. When I started working with a lot of companies, there was this moment of like, oh my goodness. They don’t know who their best customers are. They don’t know why those customers buy. But that’s not an easy thing to do. It’s not as though all these smart people are just making this really dumb decision to just ignore this.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
It actually takes a lot of work and it takes reiteration and it takes putting things out into the world and seeing how people respond. It is not a let’s sit down and do this exercise of creating personas. And now we’re good. That’s not real, it’s not. And so many companies pick who they’re going to target aspirationally, who they’d like to have as customers. Not around who’s really the best fit for their products. So, I think that business leaders need to give themselves a break and understand that, yeah, we don’t have this figured out. But you know what? So, do most companies, they don’t have it figured out. And it’s not something that we can just like turn on and say, okay, done. That project is done. Now we can just move forward. We’ve figured it out.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
This whole elusive product market fit, it’s not an event. It’s an ongoing exercise and companies need to recognize that and give themselves the kind of grace to make some mistakes and to fumble as they’re figuring this out. Because if marketing doesn’t have that psychological safety to know that it’s okay to try things and that not everything that they do has to be a hit, because you learn by putting things out there. And sometimes those things aren’t going to work. If there’s not that psychological safety created, well, they’re just going to copy what competitors are doing. And they’re going to say, well we did this because look, they’re doing it. And it seems to be working for them. So, it was a safe bet. And you don’t want your team always making the safe bet. You want them to try things and try to move the needle in new and interesting ways that competitors aren’t doing. But if they’re not given the environment to do that, then they end up falling back and they become apathetic to the mission.

Jeff Sirkin:
I couldn’t agree more. And I think from my perspective, one of the big reasons, ironically, that companies don’t do this well in mass is almost because they have too much data. And so what happens is they convince themselves that they know their customers. Is that because they know all the demographics, all the firmographics, all the behavioral activity, because they know … Because they know that you’re a 37 year old mom that drives a minivan. They feel, they know so much about you. So, what’s to learn? And I think we dilute ourselves into thinking that these facts about our customers and buyers are who they are. When in reality, again, as we keep coming back to it’s the Jobs to be Done, it’s the things that are going to help them survive and thrive. But it’s the emotion that you create in them that is not something that you can get from any piece of analytics software.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
That’s right. The attributes about a person are great at answering, the what, the when, the where, the who, all that. But the why-

Jeff Sirkin:
Yes.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
The only way to get the why is to ask somebody.

Jeff Sirkin:
Yes.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
You can have hypothesis, you can have assumptions and sometimes you’ll be right. But more often, if you want the true answer and the deeper answer and the answer that sometimes people don’t even know themselves until they’re asked the right question. Because that’s the other thing, when was the last time you sat back and thought really deeply about a purchase decision you made and you went back in your mind and started thinking about, well, how did I find out about this? And what was the moment that I realized this brand. And what was it about their website that was compelling to me? We don’t do that.

Jeff Sirkin:
No. It’s subconscious.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
We are moving forward and we’re picking up bits of information and connecting dots, and we’re doing it all using our system one thinking. As Daniel Kahneman talks about system one is kind of the impulsive and immediate and system two is like the having to use logic and thinking deeply about something. And so unless you go back and ask them to recount that story to you, and to actually dig into their memory and start connecting those dots backwards, then you can’t get those answers. Because they can’t tell you because they’ve never been asked that question and they’ve never thought that they would need to know that information.

Jeff Sirkin:
Right. And the other piece, and you mentioned this briefly, but I just want to reiterate it, but you need to ask them the question in the right way too. Because otherwise they are going to come back because it was not a conscious thought that they had in their mind, if you don’t pose the question in the right way to get them to kind of back into the feeling that they had during that process, they’re going to give you the same answer. Well, you were cheaper. But they’re actually telling you the wrong thing. But it’s because they’re not being asked the right question.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
That’s right. I have a talk and I can share a, we can share a link to it where I talk about why I bought a old school alarm clock. One of those twin bell alarm clocks. The old ones, you’d put a battery in it. You wind it up. And if somebody were to ask me what job were you trying to get done when you bought that twin bell alarm clock? I wouldn’t be able to answer that. Especially if I never even heard of what a job to be done is. I would say, well, I wanted to wake up. But if you actually dig into the details of my story and why that alarm clock made sense compared to other of solutions that I tried, that weren’t working for me. The reality was I wanted something that was going to force me out of bed in the morning when I was tempted to sleep in.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
That’s a different thing than like I needed to wake up. I think that when you start to dig into the detail of your story and that’s where you need to be able to connect dots too. Because they can’t often tell you exactly what the job is that they’re trying to get done. They can tell you what else they tried. They can tell you what they considered. They can tell you what pains they had. They can tell you what goals they had that were unmatched. But they’re not going to be able to sit down and articulately say, this is what I want to do. And oftentimes that’s exciting, but challenging. Because from an innovation perspective, you need to be able to figure that out. But from an opportunity perspective, like there’s, other people aren’t doing that work. So, if you are doing it, then how much of a advantage do you have?

Jeff Sirkin:
Well, and again, I mean, and just to your story specifically. You wanted to become the better version of yourself that woke up earlier and worked out right away. But it was about you wanting to feel like that person that was a better version of yourself. And that is not something that you would just know off the top of your head when you’re searching for an alarm clock. And to the point you make in the talk, which again, I highly recommend watching is, well, when you see all the alarm clocks, none of them are out there advertising it either.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
They don’t know that’s what they are. And that’s the other thing. There’s this quote I love who it’s a famous management consultant, I’m blanking on his name. But he says, “The customer rarely buys what a company thinks it’s selling.”

Jeff Sirkin:
That’s right.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
And that in a nutshell describes the biggest problem that most companies have. Is that the thing that they think they’re selling is not actually what their customer’s buying. And that disconnect is leading to people discovering their product and using it and being unhappy because they were trying to buy something else in the company to know it. Or them not being able to get people to even try them. Because the way that they’re selling what they’re selling is not compelling. So, it’s such an opportunity, if you can figure out how to sell what your customers want to buy and that sounds obvious, but it’s hard. It’s not easy.

Jeff Sirkin:
No. And that’s why, I mean again from April Dunford and obviously awesome. I mean it really encapsulated that so well. The idea of talking to your best customers, because likely what they’ve stumbled into is something that you’re not actively selling, but you should. And if you can find what that is, find the black box and then make that part of your messaging and then you can sell other potential customers on that.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
Yep.

Jeff Sirkin:
So, I have to say that I really love your why we buy email newsletter. It’s just such a great weekly dive into buyer psychology, which again, I think everybody can relate to. And so when I was talking with my team earlier this week before having you on. Kelly on my team, and when I asked her specifically are there a topic or are there a couple of topics that you’d want to hear us talk about. And she immediately, without missing a beat said “Barnum statements.” So, could you give some perspective in terms of what they are and how they’re most effectively used in marketing?

Katelyn Bourgoin:
Absolutely. So, a little bit of history on the Barnum statement. So, they were named after a famous showman. So, if you’re familiar with, what are they called? They were like the circus of the early, like the 20, well, I guess the 2030s, 2040s, I’m not a history major. But at these circuses there was the Barnum circus and they would have these horoscope writers or tarot card reader. And people would go and they would put down their money and they would get their horoscope read and they would be blown away. Because suddenly it’s like, oh my God, they know me so well, this is crazy. And how did they know that? And in reality, what these people are doing, if you really understand it is they are essentially using statements that feel incredibly personal, even though they could really apply to anyone. So, let me ask you a couple questions, Jeff.

Jeff Sirkin:
Sure.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
Would you say that security is one of your major life goals?

Jeff Sirkin:
Of course. Absolutely.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
Would you say that you pride yourself on being an independent thinker?

Jeff Sirkin:
Yeah, I think we all should.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
Would you say that sometimes you have such big aspirations that they feel a little bit unrealistic.

Jeff Sirkin:
I think about that every week when I look back on the last week of my life.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
Right. So, these are statements that to you’re like, oh my goodness, she’s totally gets me. But probably 70% of the population cares about security and considers it to be like a major life goal. Most people wouldn’t say, oh, I go with the herd. I never think independently. They would go, of course I think independently. Nobody else does, but I do. And so Barnum statements just allow you to make a statement that people are going to resonate with. And they work particularly well, and you could do it as a question as opposed to a statement. So, for instance, there’s a really popular online program called Ship 30 for 30. And the premise of the program is you learn how to start a writing habit by shipping a new piece of writing every day for 30 days. And when you go to their sales page, they ask these great questions on the sales page, which if you are somebody who’s interested in becoming a writer, chances are these are going to get you nodding your head.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
So, one is, do you have plenty of ideas, but struggle to put yourself out there? Immediately I’m like shaking my head. Do you find yourself creating draft after draft and never hitting publish? It’s like, yes, this is my problem. Have you started writing online, but you now feel stuck. Are you hacking away at blog posts, publishing to the void, not getting any traction. So, not only are they giving you these questions that have again, would appeal to anybody that people would feel that they could relate to, but they’re also getting the pain point in there.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
So, it’s like, they’re getting you to start saying, yeah, that’s me. That’s me. And then as they introduce their solution, you’re like, well, this is made for me. Clearly from the questions they were asking, they know my struggles and they’re creating a solution for me. So, Barnum style questions can be really powerful. They can also be off putting or break trust if you do them in a way that feels like a horoscope writer. So, you’ve got to be careful with how you use this. And of course, with anything, when it comes to buyer psychology, you want to use it for good. Don’t try to trick people to buying a product that isn’t actually a good fit for them. You want to ask them questions that will help them identify that this is a great solution for them?

Jeff Sirkin:
Well, the reason I love that is I think as we can all attest to is the best marketing, when we see it, is marketing that feels like they’re talking right to us. It feels like again, it’s … But so similarly, when you ask is Barnum style questions right up at the top immediately, it’s like, oh my gosh, she can see right into my soul. And so the whole idea is like, when you can create that level of trust with your buyers again, ideally, in a positive way. You create that. And then to your point, then you’re able to position your product as the solution to the problem that you were trying to help them solve.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
Absolutely. And funny enough, right before we jumped in this call, I’m working on a new little product and it is a review mining playbook. So, if people haven’t heard of the term review mining, it’s essentially going out and looking at what people have written about your products. Let’s say that you have your own product reviews or what they’re saying about competitor products and mining those reviews for insights. And one of the things that you’ll find is you read these reviews is what I call the swipeable copy where people will describe something and they describe it in such a sticky way. So, I’m using an example right now in this new playbook. And I’ll read you one of the examples. So, I was mining reviews for CBD Gummies and the reviewer said this. She said, “Very great product. Mother of two, with the craziest days, these gems help me to unload after the bedtime frenzy.”

Katelyn Bourgoin:
I love that. The bedtime frenzy. “And have a moment of solitude and total relaxation without any anxious thoughts getting in the way.” Anxious thoughts, getting in the way. These are powerful, powerful language that you could be using in ads, you could be using on your sales page. And I didn’t have to write this. I just read a review of somebody who bought the product and they wrote it for me. And it’s so compelling. So, as I said, I’m a huge proponent for interviews. They are my absolute favorite technique. But there’s other ways too, of being able to get this customer language, if you are not investing in reviews or sorry in interviews, then you can go and do review mining. Another method of getting these insights.

Jeff Sirkin:
I love that. And I think, again, I think that’s really the main point here is there isn’t one way there’s a hundred ways. But frankly, the idea is just the more you can do to get out of your own four walls and into the minds of your customers, the better off you’ll be. And the more you can make the story about them and paint this so that they can see how your product can help make their life better then you’re on the right track.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
That’s right.

Jeff Sirkin:
So, what resources, books, blogs, podcasts, anything like that you’d want to recommend to our audience?

Katelyn Bourgoin:
Well, I’m going to put them in kind of like two banes, so the Jobs to be Done sources and then there’s the Buyer Psychology resources, interestingly. The way that I became, I’ve always been geeky about buyer psychology. But the way that I decided to incorporate my newsletter, the Why We Buy Newsletter into my business as our primary style of content was that once I identified the job that I wanted to do for my clients and customers and people who come to my training, it was like, I want to help them understand why customers buy. And it was like, well, interviews is one way of doing that. Review mining is one way of doing that. To your point there are many ways of doing that. So, what other ways are there that maybe would be relevant and interesting to my audience, that I could create some content around.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
And that was where the idea for buyer psychology came into play. It’s like, this is something that I can give them on a week to week basis. I can help them to understand buyer psychology, which will essentially help them to understand why their customer buy. Super valuable. Again, it’s kind of like a prelude to going off and talking to your own customers and learning from your own customers. Because understanding how the human mind works is a great foundation to start with, but you still need to get into the minds of your customers. So, for me, it’s like, this is the perfect kind of lead magnet if you want to say for the types of people that I want to work with. The types of people who understand the importance of understanding buyers, are actively interested in learning and doing more of it. So, with that point, I’ll say that there’s two kind of streams of resources.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
I would definitely read the book Competing Against Luck, which is a really great intro to Jobs to be Done written by Clayton Christensen and a couple other co-authors. I would read Demand‑Side Sales 101, which is written by Bob Moesta. Bob and Clayton worked very closely together on developing Jobs to be Done. And that is a resource specifically for taking Jobs to be Done and thinking about it from a sales perspective. And I’d also look at When Coffee and Kale Compete, which you can actually get for free. It’s written by Alan Klement. And it’s again, an introduction to Jobs to be Done, but it’s a bit more actionable with more examples than perhaps in the Competing Against Luck book. So, those on the Jobs to be Done side great resources. Bob’s actually working on a new software to help teams to understand the jobs that their customers are trying to get done better.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
And to kind of like organize their data that they’re gathering from customers. So, that’s not available yet, but it will be soon. So, I definitely check that out. I have a resource, I guess, that I would recommend too. I have got a resource called Clarity Call Cheatsheets, which is essentially a bundle of all of the kind of script and the templates that you might need to start doing customer interviews and learning what the buying journey. So, it’s like, how do you actually get somebody on the phone? I’ve got scripts for that. I’ve got help ways to help you with that. What do you ask them once you get them on the phone. There’s example interviews for you to go and watch so you understand how this is done. And then there’s an interview summary that allows you to kind of make sure you’re pulling out the most useful part.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
So, the Clarity Call Cheatsheet’s a great resource as well. So, moving on to the buyer psychology side, I’d say the four things I’d recommend for you. One would be my newsletter. I really think that we do a good job of distilling some heady concepts down simply, and it’s bite size and it’s fun. So, you can find that on my website, sign up there, or you can find a link to sign up through my Twitter. So, then my newsletter, but a lot of the work in my newsletter is inspired by the work of others. So, of course there’s the book Choice Factory, which is a book that gives you insight to 25 different behavioral biases that influence why people buy.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
So, Choice Factor is a great one. What Your Customer Wants and Can’t Tell You by Melina Palmer, another great one. Rory Sutherland’s book Alchemy, another great one. And finally, the last one I’d give you is Nudge, which is a really good podcast by Phill Agnew. And so these are just kind of like the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much great stuff out there. But if I were starting and I wanted to understand Jobs to be Done, and I wanted to understand how to understand customers make buying decisions from a behavioral psychology perspective, then those are the resources I’d start with.

Jeff Sirkin:
Those are great. And we will link to all of those in the show notes. And finally, before we let you go, where can people find and connect with you on social media?

Katelyn Bourgoin:
I’m most active on Twitter. So, you can find me at Kate Bour K-A-T-E B-O-U-R, short for Bourgoin. And I’m really active there. Any questions you have, shoot me a DM. I always try to answer. I am a new mom and really busy these days. So, if I don’t get back to you right away, don’t be afraid to follow up again. It does happen. And that would be, I guess, the best spot. I’m on LinkedIn as well. I’m not less active over there and would like to be a little bit more active in the soon to be future, but not the biggest priority for me right now.

Jeff Sirkin:
Makes sense to me. Well, Katelyn I feel like this is just scratching the service and I feel like you and I could go on for hours, but this has been amazing. And thank you so much for taking the time. And thanks for sharing your story with us.

Katelyn Bourgoin:
Thanks for having me on Jeff.

Jeff Sirkin:
I really enjoyed my conversation with Katelyn. I love the Jobs to be Done concept and how to get under the surface of your buyers to create messaging that resonates. Whoever gets closer to the customer will always win. If you want to learn more about the resources mentioned in the episode, you can find them in our show notes. In addition, we’re publishing the full text transcripts of the episodes on our website at sirkinresearch.com/podcasts. Thank you for listening and I hope you’ll join us for a new story next week on Long Story Short.

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