Build mental models for your audience

Business benefits

Maximize persuasiveness and memorability, and help your audience understand your products.

Identify the types of mental models that you want your audience to use when conceptualizing your product.

Mental models are collections of impressions, data, and feelings about a concept. For example, the word cat will bring up different mental models in every person – some people will imagine an abstract, vague cat shape; others will picture a specific cat that they know.

Highly technical audiences might need a detailed component-based mental model to think about your product; other audiences might be more comfortable with a set of emotions and imagining how they’ll feel using the product.

Categorize existing content into the mental models you selected.

For example, you might have:

  • Technical specifications that list details of product components and capabilities.
  • Marketing content that focuses on communicating feelings and sensations.

Look for existing mental models that your audience already uses.

For example, if you say Stream music, they might imagine Spotify. Or if you mention a mobile phone, they might imagine a recent model of iPhone or Samsung Galaxy.

Brainstorm ways to build on existing mental models to quickly help your audience understand the benefits of your product.

Introducing something new or innovative that your audience cannot easily connect with based on their previous experiences will make the concept difficult for your audience to understand and remember. For example, introducing new services in the sharing industry as “the Uber of” a niche is designed to help existing users of ridesharing services easily understand how the new business might work.

Focus on benefits rather than features to make it easier for your audience to build conceptual connections.

Because benefits are focused on your audience, they can more easily integrate them into their existing mental model and categorize your product as a result. For example, forming an opinion about an iPhone based on technical specs will lead to connections like screen size, display type, resolution, and storage space, which is difficult to connect to everyday life. Focusing the same product on convenience, the types of pictures the camera can take, how good it looks, and how others might perceive the owner makes it easier to connect the phone to real-life situations.

Use split testing, analytics, and Google Analytics events to track the performance of your messaging and find opportunities to optimize your framing.