July 22, 2022

How to Reach Product-Market Fit with the Jobs-To-Be-Done Framework

Author Profile Picture
Marvin Tekautschitz
Partner @ Demandbay

What we currently know in the marketing space is that customer-centered approaches yield much better results, and they are the future of marketing. Companies that put their customers in the center of their marketing activity are 60% more profitable than those that don’t. If your ultimate business goal is to cater to your customer needs, your can benefit from the Jobs-To-Be-Done framework.

What Is Jobs to Be Done Framework?

The Jobs to Be Done framework provides a way to define, classify and organize customer needs, and it is based on a theory that claims the following:

  • Customers’ goal is to perform a task. They buy a product or use services with that goal in mind. This goal is a ‘job to be done.’
  • Since ‘jobs to be done’ are based on customer goals or needs, they stay fundamentally the same over time. Thus, they can be used as a North Star for product development or marketing activities.
  • Making the ‘job to be done a focal point, instead of the product or the customer, brings more success.

What Does Jobs to Be Done Theory Add to Customer-Centered Approach

One of the first things you will hear when starting a business is that you need to know your customers. This usually means creating a buyer persona or an ideal customer profile, which tells a story about your customer. Understanding customer characteristics doesn’t mean you can predict their actions. The Jobs To Be Done framework solves this problem by classifying customers, jobs, and outcomes that guide understanding customer needs. 

Types of Customers

There are three types of customers in this framework based on the kind of job they do:

  1. The job executor - a person using a product or a service to do a core function job  
  2. The product lifecycle support team - a team, a group of people, or multiple groups that support or use the product at some point or during the lifecycle to execute consumption chain jobs. These include transportation, installation, maintenance, repair, upgrades, etc. 
  3. The buyer: a person who makes the financial purchase decision.

Each customer type has a different, unique set of needs. Although there are many combinations and variations, customers can typically be put in one of these groups. 

In B2C contexts, customers often belong to all three groups. For example, stove manufacturers can determine that their customers are the buyer - who decide to buy the stove, the supporter of the product throughout its lifecycle, and the job executor. 

The situation is usually more complex in B2B scenarios. If a company produces construction equipment, the buyer will usually be someone in the purchasing department. The lifecycle support team are people who deliver this equipment, set it up, secure it, maintain it, etc. Finally, the job executor is someone who uses the equipment (a person in control of a crane/excavator/bulldozer)

Customer types defined in the Jobs-to-be-Done Framework
Source: Strategyn


Types of Jobs

Job types are based on the jobs that the three types of customers are trying to get done.

  1. The core functional job - this is the primary job that the job executor is trying to get done. This job is why the offer is created in the first place. Some examples are: keeping the sink clean, building a wall, repairing the engine, managing monthly spending, etc. Your goal should be to create an offer that gets this job done faster, easier, cheaper, and better than competitors. 
  2. Related jobs - more often than not, job executors want to do more jobs simultaneously, and related jobs represent these additional jobs that are tied to the core functional job. Your goal should be to create an offer that can help your customer do multiple jobs to make your offer stand out and add value.
  3. Emotional (social) jobs - they represent the feeling a job executor wants to have when doing the core functional job or how they want to be perceived. This information is helpful to you when you’re crafting a proposition that should emphasize both functions and emotions. 
  4. Consumption chain jobs - the lifecycle support team does this group of jobs. Depending on the industry, the actual jobs may vary, so make sure your template includes jobs that are relevant to your offering. They can include installation, setting up, transportation, storing, training, maintenance, cleaning, repair, upgrading, changing, disposing, etc. 
  5. The purchase decision job - finally, this job is done by the buyer who makes the purchase decision based on available funds. Your goal should be to discover what the buyer is looking at regarding performance/finances when making this decision.
Job types defined in the Jobs-to-be-Done Framework
Source: Strategyn


Using Customer and Job Types to Define Desired Outcomes

The final part of the Jobs to Be Done framework uses the types of customers and jobs to discover customers' needs further. Remember, this framework aims to determine customers’ needs, and it can do this by making the ‘job to be done’ a unit of analysis. 

The ‘job to be done’ should be considered a process, and you should break it down into stages or steps using a job map (more on it below). Then, you should define what metrics customers use to measure success in each stage. These metrics represent the desired outcomes of each step, which will tell you what need is tied to a job. Ultimately, this will influence what your offer should contain to meet that need. 

Jobs to Be Done Framework
Source: Strategyn

Why is JTBD Framework Important

The amount of data you can get about your customers can be overwhelming, especially in the early stages of your business. Using a framework such as JTBD gives you a structured way to approach customer needs and use your knowledge best. Here are some benefits you can reap by using this framework:

  • Save time and resources - you will be able to collect, classify and organize customer needs in days. Moreover, focusing on jobs to be done will make the data relevant for years, so you won’t have to go back to them all the time.
  • Discover unmet needs within specific customer segments - by analyzing desired outcomes of each job stage, you will see where your customers struggle and what they need to alleviate that. 
  • Reach product-market fit - by determining and focusing on customer needs, you will be able to find the best way to satisfy market demand. 
  • Deliver best-in-class customer experience - by understanding support jobs, you will find ways to make buying and onboarding easier for your customer.
  • Predict innovations - all aspects of your business can be guided by customers' needs. If you know exactly what those needs are, you can come up with solutions and improvements to your offer.

Another great benefit of the JTBD framework is aligning your teams and their efforts to create customer value. When focused on needs, everyone in your company will be able to answer some crucial questions. Here are some of them:

Executives

  • How do we stay innovative but still keep the customer front and center?
  • How to align all teams to provide the best experience and value for our customers?
  • Is there a way to come up with new ideas before anyone else in the market?

Product managers

  • What job or which parts of it does our product get done?
  • What can we do to make our product more valuable?
  • Can we cover more than one job with a product?
  • What can we do with the product to improve the experience for as many customers as possible?

Product development

  • Is our interface effective?
  • How can we improve the user experience?
  • What struggles do customers experience with consumption chain jobs?

Marketers

  • How to create a message that resonates with our customers?
  • What can we do to make more impactful content?
  • How to position ourselves better in the market?
  • Is there a better way to communicate with our customers?
  • How do we improve customer success? 
  • What are our best upsell opportunities?

Jobs to Be Done framework can help your teams be more aligned, efficient, and on the right path towards growing the business. In the next section, we discuss applying JTBD to your business.

How to Use JTBD Framework for Your Business

There are many Job to Be Done Framework templates out there. Depending on the industry, or your specific role in a company, you may need to adapt the framework to get the best results. However, there are five steps that you can follow to gain knowledge and use the framework provided successfully. 

1 | Define the Market in Terms of Jobs to be Done

Step one is to define your market as a group of people AND a job they need to do. There are several things you accomplish by defining your market in this way. 

First, you’re making it very clear and precise. Defining a market based on your personas, location, product uses, etc., will not give you much to work with when thinking about product innovation or marketing. However, a group of people that needs to do a specific job is a great starting point to discovering all the details of the process. 

Second, this kind of market definition will be more stable over time. Groups of people and jobs to be done stay fundamentally the same over time, giving you a relatively stable focal point to create customer value. 

Finally, a simple definition is always a better one. It’s easy to grasp by everyone in the company, and there aren’t many definition elements to draw attention from the main points.

When defining a market, keep this in mind:

  • Don’t define people in terms of their job title but a group (educators instead of teachers, learners over children, consumers over adults, tradespeople over carpenters, etc.)
  • Naming a group of people instead a job title will help you identify who you can interview to define the jobs.
  • Don’t randomly make up jobs; discover them through the interview process with your target group. You want to find out what the job is from the customer's point of view, not yours.

2 | Define and Map Jobs

Now that you have defined your market, it’s time to dig deeper into the ‘jobs to be done.’ First, you need to come up with a job statement. This short and straightforward sentence describes what the customer wants to achieve. It should be written from the customer's point of view and contain the direction of the improvement (more, less, increase, decrease, etc.), what needs to be improved (food, comfort, fun, etc.), who’s being affected, and any context if necessary. Here’s an example:

As a homeowner, I want to increase the safety of my home when I’m away for a more extended period of time.

Now that you have a job defined, the goal is to gain a granular view of a job that includes small steps, activities, or tasks that a customer does when trying to get the job done. This view will help you discover how to help customers get the job done better/faster/cheaper etc., and it provides a structure for revealing and defining needs. It’s important to note that the map does not represent a journey or a process and is not necessarily linear. Customers can go back and forth between tasks, do them simultaneously, take more or less time for some steps, etc. 

8 Steps of the Job to Be Done Map

  1. Define and plan - The customer creates a plan to achieve their goal
  2. Locate - They locate the information they need to move forward
  3. Prepare - They look at the information they have, think about it, organize it, qualify it and then decide whether they need more information or are ready to make a decision. 
  4. Confirm - The customer decides they have everything they need to decide. 
  5. Execute: They perform the job.
  6. Monitor: As they perform the job, they make sure everything is going well.
  7. Modify: If they see a problem during monitoring, they make a change. New information they gathered allows them to assess their decision and make a new decision on whether they completed the job or if they can improve something.
  8. Conclude: If/When the customer assesses that they are happy with the outcome, they may decide to conclude the job. They can also choose to return to the modification phase and make additional changes. 

Remember, you should discover all this information through interviews with your target audience. You can try to make assumptions and validate them in interviews. But make sure you’re not focusing just on your point of you and the role of your product in a job. You should use everything you discover during the interview process to improve your questions and make the job statement and map more stable. 

3 | Understand Customer Criteria

At each job stage, customers use specific criteria to assess the situation and outcomes. You need to learn what these criteria are to discover underlying needs.

These criteria usually fall under three types:

  • Functional (needs: more, less, cheaper, better quality, faster, louder, more straightforward, etc.)
  • Emotional (needs: less stress, more comfort, cause admiration, provides pleasure, etc.)
  • Social (needs: facilitate connection, promote openness, increase trust, etc.)

Customers will have different criteria for each stage of the job. Make sure you note that down and connect criteria with where in the buyer journey the customer is. 

4 | Identify opportunities

Now that you have determined the 50 to 150 most essential criteria, you should conduct another round of questions. Determine what criteria are most important to your customers (ask them to rate all of them from 1 to 5) and how satisfied are they with the current options to meet those criteria (from 1 to 5).

You will be able to see criteria that scored high on the importance scale and low on the satisfaction with options. This is where you will see opportunities for your business. 

5 | Come Up with Solutions

It’s now time to put together everything you learned and know. Based on the opportunities you identified, you’re going to do the following:

  • Describe how you’re going to respond to the unmet needs of your customers
  • Explain why your solution will be the right one for their needs

At this point, you will know your target market and their unmet needs. You can start developing innovations to meet these needs and provide value for your customers. 

Jobs to Be Done Examples 

One of the jobs many people want to do is keep their living space clean and ideally do that as quickly and simply as possible. Keeping a home clean involves many products, from tools to supplies. Since the floor is one of the most extensive surfaces in a home, cleaning usually takes a lot of time. 

Vacuum cleaners take care of one part of the job - removing dust and debris from the floor. However, there are many related jobs that the job executor needs to do. Mopping the floors, polishing, dusting, cleaning the furniture, etc. This is where vacuum manufacturers saw an opportunity. 

If you could have one tool which takes care of cleaning multiple places in different ways, without you having to switch between devices and cleaning supplies - customers would be able to get the job done faster and simpler. 

This is how all-in-one vacuums, mops, and furniture cleaners came into existence. With just a couple of clicks, different extensions, and separate cleaning solution containers, customers can tackle various home surfaces without constantly switching up the tools. 

By understanding this job, companies can craft a message that resonates with their customers' needs. A complete cleaning solution, all-in-one, clean all floors with one product - all of these can be conveyed to customers and instantly speak to them. They are not only innovative in the product space but can also communicate that in their messaging.

How Microsoft Applied the JTBD Framework

Big companies such as Microsoft also applied the Jobs to Be Done framework when their offers failed. Their data showed that Software Assurance didn’t provide enough customer benefits. Microsoft thought that their maintenance program provides the value of quickly and simply keeping other Windows products up to date for business users. However, their customers haven’t shared the same view, and the renewals started declining. 

Microsoft applied the JTBD framework to pinpoint the best opportunities to add value, their customers’ needs, and their customers' criteria to measure success. They did this in 5 steps. 

First, they defined their market as two groups of people - procurement managers and IT professionals who wanted to complete two jobs - purchasing a software license and managing it.

Second, they researched their customer needs/desired outcomes by interviewing their target market. They discovered more than 50 outcomes for both groups and their jobs. For example, some of the needs their target customers have is an easier way to track the number of licenses they own and any software conflicts that may appear. 

After conducting surveys to determine essential criteria, Microsoft determined that the current offers in the market are not meeting many fundamental needs. Beyond purchasing and managing licenses, they determined many needs are related to software acquisition, training, maintenance, and even disposal of old devices. 

Microsoft changed its offer to address these pain points to cater to these needs and ensure desired outcomes for its customers. Microsoft already had solutions for some desired results, such as monitoring licenses and anticipation of software conflicts. Once they made this change, they saw a dramatic and stable increase in revenue. 

Final Thoughts

You can always benefit from new perspectives if you want to grow your business. Having your customers’ needs guide your company activities will help you find a place in the market for your product, get your message-market fit by crafting a message that resonates with your customers and be a leading innovator in your industry. The Jobs to Be Done framework provides a roadmap to achieve these goals. 

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