Understanding Your Customers Through the Jobs To Be Done Lens

Understanding Your Customers Through the Jobs To Be Done Lens

Jobs To Be Done Theory

“As the saying goes, no one wants a quarter-inch drill bit; they want a quarter-inch hole.”

Tony Ulwick

There are dozens of noteworthy marketing theories that have impacted marketing strategy over the last many years (Think SWOT Analysis, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, The Marketing Mix, Porter’s Five Forces, Six Force Models, and beyond). One model that consistently bears scrutiny is Jobs To Be Done (JTBD), which has proven its efficacy even in the most complex digital marketing journey mapping, year after year.

The theory of Jobs to be Done (JTBD) is an innovation concept rooted in the idea that individuals purchase products and services with the intention of accomplishing specific tasks, reaching objectives, solving problems, and advancing in their lives. JTBD hypothesizes that people don’t buy products – they “hire” them to do jobs in order to solve their problems. Although not a novel marketing concept, the JTBD theory proposes that for effective market success, businesses need to center their analysis on the customer’s task at hand, strive to comprehend this task thoroughly, and subsequently devise solutions that notably enhance or lower the cost of completing these tasks. JBTD places greater emphasis on a customer’s situation—what they go through that drives them to make a purchase—rather than on their demographic or psychographic details like age, educational background, and values.

Jobs To Be Done Framework

Our life is filled with “jobs to be done”. Some jobs are simple like waiting (patiently) in line at the supermarket and some are life-changing like finding your life partner or making a career change.   The Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD) theory is a framework broken down into nine key tenets. These principles collectively form the foundation of the Jobs-to-be-Done theory, which aims to provide a more customer-centric perspective on innovation and product development.

  1. People Want to Make Progress: Customers are driven by the desire to make progress in their lives, whether it’s achieving goals, solving problems, or fulfilling needs.
  2. Jobs, Not Just Products: People “hire” products or services to help them get a job done. The focus should be on the job that customers are trying to accomplish, rather than just the features of a product.
  3. Job as a Unit of Analysis: The unit of analysis in innovation should be the job that customers are trying to complete, rather than demographic or psychographic characteristics.
  4. Jobs are Stable Over Time: The fundamental jobs that people need to get done remain relatively stable over time, even as products and technologies change.
  5. Segmentation Based on Jobs: Market segmentation should be based on the different jobs that customers are trying to accomplish, rather than traditional demographic or behavioral categories.
  6. Competing Solutions: Customers consider various solutions to get a job done, which includes not only direct competitors but also alternative ways of accomplishing the same job.
  7. Customers Have Struggles and Trade-offs: Customers face struggles and trade-offs in trying to complete jobs. Innovations that help alleviate these struggles can gain a competitive edge.
  8. Hierarchy of Jobs: Jobs can be hierarchical, with higher-level jobs being the overarching goals that lower-level jobs contribute to achieving.
  9. Measuring Success: The success of innovation should be measured by how well it helps customers complete the job and make progress, rather than solely focusing on adoption rates or revenue.

Real-World Examples

Now that we’ve delved into the concept of JBTD let’s delve into its practical essence let’s consider the following JTBD real-world examples:

Ridesharing Apps (e.g., Uber, Lyft): Job to be Done: “Get from one place to another conveniently and reliably.” Customers hire ridesharing apps when they need a convenient and hassle-free way to travel without the need to own a car or navigate public transportation.

Smartphone (e.g., iPhone, Samsung Galaxy): Job to be Done: “Stay connected, access information, and manage tasks on the go.” Customers hire smartphones to fulfill their communication, entertainment, organization, and information-seeking needs in a portable and user-friendly manner.

Fitness Tracker (e.g., Fitbit, Apple Watch): Job to be Done: “Monitor physical activity, track health metrics, and maintain an active lifestyle.” Customers hire fitness trackers to help them keep track of their exercise routines, set goals, and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Coffee Maker (e.g., Keurig, Nespresso): Job to be Done: “Quickly brew a personalized cup of coffee.” Customers hire coffee makers to satisfy their need for a convenient, customized, and rapid coffee brewing experience.

Meal Kit Delivery Service (e.g., Blue Apron, HelloFresh): Job to be Done: “Prepare home-cooked meals without the hassle of meal planning and grocery shopping.” Customers hire meal kit delivery services to simplify the process of cooking at home by providing pre-measured ingredients and recipes.

Streaming Services (e.g., Netflix, Spotify): Job to be Done: “Access a variety of entertainment content on-demand.” Customers hire streaming services to fulfill their desire for convenient access to movies, TV shows, music, and other forms of entertainment.

The History and Personalities Behind the Jobs To Be Done Theory

Tony Ulwick and Clayton Christensen are both significant figures in the development and popularization of the JTBD theory and both lay claim to the popularity of this theory in different ways:

Clayton Christensen: is a renowned Harvard Business School professor and innovation expert. While he didn’t explicitly coin the term “Jobs-to-be-Done,” his work laid the foundation for the theory. Christensen’s concept of “disruptive innovation” and his research on why companies fail to innovate effectively contributed to the evolution of the JTBD theory. His ideas around understanding the needs and motivations of customers and creating solutions that address those needs align closely with the principles of the JTBD theory.

Tony Ulwick: is a practitioner and thought leader in the field of innovation. He played a significant role in formalizing and refining the JTBD theory. Ulwick is known for introducing the concept of “Outcome-Driven Innovation” (ODI), which is a systematic process for applying the JTBD theory to product and service development. He emphasized the importance of defining customer needs in terms of the outcomes they are trying to achieve and using this understanding to guide innovation efforts. Ulwick’s work has helped make the JTBD theory more actionable and practical for businesses.

How JTBD Impacts Digital Marketing and Lead Generation

JTBD focuses on understanding the underlying motivations and goals that drive consumers to “hire” a product or service to fulfill a specific job or task in their lives. It’s a versatile concept that should be applied to digital lead generation:

  1. Segmentation: Applying JTBD theory can help in segmenting the target audience based on the different jobs they are trying to get done. This allows businesses to create more focused and relevant lead-generation campaigns that speak directly to the needs of each segment.
  2. Crafting Relevant Content: Once the jobs are identified, businesses can create content that directly addresses the pain points or aspirations associated with those jobs. Content could include blog posts, videos, ebooks, webinars, and landing pages that provide valuable insights or solutions related to the specific jobs customers are trying to fulfill.
  3. Offering Solutions: The JTBD theory encourages businesses to position their products or services as solutions to the customers’ jobs. Instead of just presenting features and benefits, the focus should be on demonstrating how the offering can help customers get their job done more effectively than alternatives.
  4. Optimizing User Experience: Applying JTBD theory to lead generation involves optimizing the user experience to make it seamless for customers to “hire” your product or service to fulfill their jobs. This could involve improving website navigation, simplifying the signup process, and ensuring that the value proposition aligns with the job the customer is trying to accomplish.
  5. Tailoring Lead Magnets: Lead magnets (e.g., ebooks, templates, guides) can be designed to specifically address the jobs customers are trying to get done. By offering valuable resources that resonate with their needs, businesses can attract and capture leads more effectively.
  6. Personalization: JTBD theory highlights the importance of personalization. Businesses can use data-driven insights to customize their lead generation efforts based on individual preferences and specific jobs customers are aiming to fulfill.
  7. Customer Interviews and Feedback: To truly understand the jobs customers are trying to get done, businesses can conduct interviews, surveys, and gather feedback from existing and potential customers. This can provide valuable insights for refining lead generation strategies.
  8. Continuous Improvement: The JTBD theory emphasizes that customer needs and jobs evolve over time. Businesses should consistently gather feedback, analyze data, and refine their lead generation approaches to stay aligned with changing customer jobs.

Related Content:

Digital Lead Generation and the Power of Personalization

Speed to Lead: How Quickly You Should Be Responding to Inbound Leads

How to Re-engage Unresponsive Leads





  • Fran Jakubowicz

    Fran Jakubowicz is the CEO of SunHouse Marketing, a full service digital marketing agency with a track record of excellence. A digital lead generation expert, Fran and her team have generated hundreds of thousands of leads and millions of dollars in sales for her clients. Fran invests in training and certifying her team across all digital marketing channels to ensure that her clients are benefiting from the freshest digital marketing strategies, Google best practices and tools available. Working across multiple verticals including health, pharmaceutical, finance, law, education, non-profit and eCommerce, Fran and her team have been helping organizations reach their digital goals since 2009. Fran grew up in communications. Early in her career, she worked in her family’s public relations firm, DCI (Dworkin Communications Inc). Since that time Fran has been involved in an impressive array of projects, assisting companies and non-profit organizations to attain their goals. In the days before the internet Fran practiced traditional marketing and PR. With this background, it was only natural for Fran to evolve her skills, and to become a very successful online marketer. In a rare combination, Fran blends over 20 years of experience with her love and passion for the latest and hottest technologies. This unique worldview allows Fran to assist companies to achieve their goals. Connect with Fran on LinkedIn.

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    Shoshi Shapiro is the gal you want to know if you are looking to broaden your LinkedIn social media tactics! A born, bred and educated New Yorker with a Master’s Degree in Communications, she is dedicated to using the latest and greatest digital marketing techniques to bring the best traffic and conversion rates to her clients through Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and other social media avenues. Her expertise in these areas brings results that only she can achieve. These only compliment her well rounded skill base in Social Media marketing and Adwords advertising. Shoshi uses all of the above to create highly successful and cost effective Lead Generation campaigns for B2B projects. Around here, Shoshi is known as the “Voice of Reason”. She humbly offers her words of wisdom, which in hindsight, always prove to be insightful and right on the money. By applying her wisdom, creativity and dedication to marketing projects, she implements innovative strategies that are uniquely advantageous to our clients. When she pulls herself away from social media strategy, blog management and SEO dabbling, you can find her enjoying her kids, cooking, baking and walking in the great outdoors. In fact, not only does she enjoy baking, we at the office often enjoy it as well! (If you are ever in position to try one one of her cakes, request the Double Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cake. If you have a marketing challenge, or specifically a challenge using LinkedIn for Lead Generation, try getting Shoshi on the case. If after hearing her advice, you don’t agree that she is the Voice of Reason, we’ll eat her cake!

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