What is the “Jobs To Be Done” Framework?

by | Mar 8, 2023 | Jobs to Be Done Theory and Target Market Segmentation, Market Research, User Experience

Make the frame work for your business

Life is made up of one big to-do list. Days are filled with work tasks, life admin, homework, and “I’ll get to fixing that” hopeful thinking. And because every errand has a desired outcome, you need a few “helping hands” in the form of tools, resources, people, tech, etc., to draw satisfying lines across your list items.

During the customer value proposition (CVP) analysis, many businesses mistakenly consider what they offer and why it’s the best thing ever – instead of why they’re offering it in the first place.

The jobs-to-be-done (JTBD) theory is a type of target market segmentation that defines and categorises needs on product or service outcomes rather than the product or service itself.

But before sharing your daily to-do list, we’re not talking about the jobs you need to get done. We’re talking about the jobs your customers need to accomplish with your product or service. Get your customers’ to-do lists ready to nail down their needs.


What are jobs-to-be-done?

Let’s use Jack and the Beanstalk as an example. Jack didn’t trade the family cow because he craved beans on toast. He was promised a solution to his poverty, and the magic beans were the answer.

And although rich folk would’ve had more to offer the salesperson for the magic beans, he knew Jack’s circumstances meant he needed it, which improved his chances of selling (or trading) them.

His customer value proposition was that Jack could go from zero to hero by planting the beans – even if it meant trading a valuable asset.

In a beanshell, if you want to convince the Jacks and Jills of the world to give you their cows (money) for your magic beans (products or services), start with the outcome.


What is a customer “need”?

Have you ever wondered why so many companies constantly readjust their marketing strategies? Maybe it’s because their product teams quickly assume their customers’ needs when, in reality, they’re just playing a game of Cluedo.

We know, and we’re hoping you know, that once you analyse customers’ needs based on the outcomes they can achieve with your products or services, you’ll know:
  • Which needs are unmet
  • Which customers have specific needs
  • How to innovate your products or services accordingly
  • Which products or services will win or lose in the market
  • How to align your marketing and development strategies to present and deliver maximum customer value


The Jobs-To-Be-Done Framework

1. Who are my customers?
If you’ve undertaken target customer segmentation, you probably have a file filled with personas and make-believe scenarios.

Group customers into three segments:
  1. The doer: This person uses the product for a core function.
  2. The lifecycle support team: These are the folk executing consumption chain jobs: the installers, transporters, repairers, maintenance people, upgraders, and disposers of the product throughout its lifecycle.
  3. The buyer: A fan favourite, this person makes the purchasing decision.
We often find that B2C consumers play all three roles. If you manufacture hairbrushes, for example, your consumer uses the product, supports it throughout its lifecycle, and is also the buyer.

But B2B companies have more complex scenarios. For example, say you sell CRM software, your employees are the job executors, the IT department is the support team, and the buyer is typically the business.

2. What jobs are we dealing with?
Now that we’ve established who your customers are, we can determine what they need. Jack, for example, is the doer, support, and “buyer” of the beans, but achieving his desired outcome isn’t as simple as you’d think.

Although your goal is to define needs based on a desired outcome, you want to place yourself in the process of getting there.

Here are the different jobs of each customer:

The doer’s jobs:
  • Core function job: This is the underlying process the doer needs to get the job done. Jack’s core functional job is to get rich off the giants’ jewels and gold, and the magic beans will help him get the job done better and easier than the cow would, for example.

    In other words, you want to help your customers get core functional jobs done better and more cost-effective than the competition.
  • Support jobs: This is an additional job the doer needs to do before, during, or after the core job. Getting up the stalk would’ve taken half the time if another salesperson offered Jack a jetpack. Even better, imagine if someone conveniently had a chainsaw nearby during his escape.

    Understanding these support jobs allows you to develop solutions for customers who need to get multiple jobs done quicker.
  • Emotional jobs: Connecting with your customers’ emotions is extremely powerful, especially if they want to feel or be perceived in a certain way while doing a job. The beans man somehow knew that Jack and his family were struggling, so he knew how to convince him that the riches would make him happy while being perceived as the hero by his family.

    If you can create a customer value proposition with functional and emotional elements, you connect with your customers while offering a desired outcome.
The support team’s job:
  • Consumption chain jobs: The lifecycle support team has multiple jobs, from installation, storage, transportation, cleaning, upgrading, etc. And every job affects the customer experience (CX). Jack had to plant, water, and care for the plant if he wanted it to grow. But the beans had to be growable for Jack to use them. (Jelly beans, for example, would’ve been a disaster).

    If you’re selling to support teams, ensure the product functions well enough for them to care for and use it in their chains.
The buyer’s job:
  • Making the decision: The person making the financial decision must decide which product or service they want based on a few financial and performance metrics. Jack realised that riches were more valuable in the long run than the cow. What if the cow dies? What if the beans are magical, and he loses the opportunity? These “financial desired outcomes” will make or break the buyer’s decision.

3. Determining the desired outcome
Well done. You’ve made it to the main ingredient: customer needs. Grab a cup of coffee; it’s about to get deep.

A customer’s need isn’t as simple as who they are and what job they need to achieve. You must uncover the requirements to complete that job seamlessly and successfully the first time.

Time, cost, quality, reliability, accessibility, ease of use, maintainability, and potential failure all affect your customers’ outcome expectations.

To determine customer needs, you must study their core function job as a process. Map out every step involved in getting the job done and see where you can enhance the process by removing more responsibilities from the customer.

A watering can, jetpack, invisibility cloak, and chainsaw would’ve made Jack’s job so much easier, don’t you think?

4. Put it in practice with Outcome-Driven Innovation
“Outcome what now?”

The jobs-to-be-done theory is just the “what” of customer segmentation, whereas Outcome-Driven Innovation (ODI) is the process of making the theory work.

To put it broadly, ODI will help you conceptualise and develop new solutions according to your customers’ needs by eliminating shortcomings in the innovation process.

It’s genius – and it works. This is also when you create a smashing customer value proposition (CVP).

What is a customer value proposition? Two words: unmet needs. By knowing where the customer’s job is underserved, how to communicate your solution, and relentlessly satisfying those unmet needs, you can create a value proposition that slides into your customer’s desired outcome.


Do it once, reap the benefits forever

Look, no one is saying this is easy, but it’s better than going into it blindly. A clear-cut JTBD framework complemented by a bulletproof ODI strategy and killer CVP will get you the magic beans and the golden goose.

Get in touch with JTBD experts who vibe with it every day.

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