“Jobs to be Done”: What do Your Customers Want to Achieve?

What do Your Customers Want to Achieve?

What if you could drill down to the very heart of what motivates your customers?

The “holy grail” of product development, sales and marketing has always been to have the knowledge of exactly what is driving customers to buy. If you have this deep understanding, it will inform your efforts across all of those areas and help you to give customers exactly what they desire.

The “Jobs to be Done” framework was created to help companies understand the context of a person’s problem and what motivates them.

This can be a powerful tool for improving the effectiveness of your sales and marketing efforts. Here’s how it works:

What is “Jobs to be Done?”

The Jobs To Be Done (JTBD) framework emerged in the 1990s as a way to understand what motivates people to buy and has become a core tenet of modern marketing practice. It was made popular by Harvard Business School Professor, Clayton Christensen and has been upheld as a framework to help companies take a more customer-driven approach to product development, sales and marketing.

JTBD centres around the idea that in order to understand customer’s purchasing decisions, companies need to know what job the client is trying to get done.

In practice, JTBD involves a research process to answer key questions about your target customer. This focuses on qualitative market research in the form of customer interviews. JTBD provides insights into what causes customers to buy products and services, what moves them forward or holds them back, their problems, pains and desires.

Clayton Christensen has said;

“Your customers can come in all shapes and sizes across different verticals, but the one single thing that they have in common is the job that they’re looking to hire a product for.”

This makes sense if you think of the problem as a job that requires “hiring” to complete. For example, if I have trouble keeping track of my business account transactions, the “job” I am hiring for is to set them straight and free up more of my time. I might turn to an accounting software, such as Sage, to service that job. Alternatively, I might hire an assistant, or an accountant.

The video below shows Clayton Christensen talking about his work with a large fast food restaurant (widely assumed to be McDonald’s) where customers described the job they were hiring a milkshare for.

What unmet needs do your customers have, and what are they really hiring your product or service to do?

The most successful businesses are solving very well-defined problems and doing so in a way that is better than alternative options. JTBD helps you to get that understanding of what those problems really are.

Why use it?

The JTBD framework provides a great way to think about and understand your customer’s motivations and why they buy or use your product or service. The primary reason to use JTBD is because it can help you increase the effectiveness of your sales and marketing.

The more your business understands the customers you serve, the better your products and services will resonate with those customers. Businesses who try to serve everyone tend to appeal to no one as their messaging gets confused or diluted, so it’s important to gain that deep knowledge.

The best way to achieve a better understanding of your customers is by getting as close to the source of trust as possible. You can do this through structured customer interviews. These can help you understand the answers to questions such as:

  • What problems your customers face on a daily basis
  • What their personal and career goals are, and what stands in the way of them achieving these goals
  • Where they go online for advice and information, as well as events they regularly attend
  • Why people buy your products and services, and what they want from them
  • The challenges that your product/s or service/s help them to overcome
  • What drove them to switch from a competing product or service

“The real answer is, before I’m even going to sell a pen to anybody, I need to know about the person, I want to know what their needs are, what kind of pens do they use, do they use a pen?”

– Jordan Belfort

Before trying to “sell them this pen”, find out if they even use one.

The information you glean from your customer interviews should inform the other decisions you need to make in your business and particularly form a foundation for sales and marketing. This helps with your messaging and positioning and should flow into your collateral, including sales decks, online demos, your website and content.

This might sound like a daunting undertaking, but it doesn’t have to be a large-scale project. Engaging with 10 to 15 customers (or potential customers) can result in a wealth of information to make better informed business decisions.

Your customer interviews can underpin decisions in other parts of the business, too. For example, pricing decisions, product roadmaps and portfolio decisions are made and created around potential new products or services. In addition, while the focus is typically on interviewing customers, these interviews can be extended to internal business stakeholders, such as salespeople and product managers. This is a good way to hear what they are learning from their own daily interactions.

A common business mistake…

It might seem like such an obvious mistake, but a key factor that can harm business efforts toward sales and marketing is by not talking directly to your target audience. How do you know what really connects if you haven’t asked?

Most companies, particularly technology companies, tend to default to a company-centric rather than customer-centric stance when it comes to messaging. Overwhelmingly, they talk too much about the features of their products and services without honing in on what really matters to the customer.

You can have the latest in technological advances and the most feature-rich product, but guess what? None of this is why people use your products or services. Your customers may not be buying what your company thinks it is selling, so instead of focusing on features and solutions, understand what the core motivations are for your customers.

“People don’t want a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole.” – Theodore Levitt

Successful companies focus on the customer’s problem and desired outcome first, rather than the company’s product or solution. Remember, people don’t just buy stuff, they buy what it does for them (the “job to be done).”

Understanding all of this is about context, which isn’t always easy to gather. Marketers need to figure out the nuances behind customer decisions as customers will often buy based on emotion right now, then justify their buying decision with logic later on.

As UserOnboard put it;

“People don’t buy products; they buy better versions of themselves. When you’re trying to win customers, are you listing the attributes of the flower or describing how awesome it is to throw fireballs?”

Source: Christian la France on Slideshare

How We Can Help

Conducting useful customer interviews does take some effort and planning, something that we at Digital Elite are able to help companies with.

Interested in us conducting customer interviews for you? We’ll typically ask you for the following information before providing a quote:

  1. Why do you feel now is a good time for customer research interviews (select all that apply)
    • In the pre-development stages of a new product or service
    • In the early stages of our business
    • Concerned that feedback from prospects and existing customers varies widely
    • Moving into a new niche or market
    • Launching a significant new product or service
    • Keen to improve our marketing and messaging in general
    • New to customer interviews and have never done this before
  2. Are you comfortable with us offering compensation to customers for their time e.g. a £50-£100 Amazon gift card?
  3. Are we also able to interview people within the company, such as your sales team?
  4. Would you like a copy of the recordings?
  5. What you like a copy of the transcriptions?

To enquire about how we can help you, please contact us here.

Related Links

What Is Jobs To Be Done? https://jtbd.info/2-what-is-jobs-to-be-done-jtbd-796b82081cca

When Coffee and Kale Compete http://www.whencoffeeandkalecompete.com/

Clayton Christensen on Jobs To Be Done (Video) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kjcx87JmhvM

Stuart Brameld

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