5 min read

Using the Jobs to be Done Framework to Understand Your Customers

2021 January 7 16:00 GMT-07:00

Revenue operations center on ensuring teams align around helping their products stand out from the competition and sell 

However, a product that fails to gain sufficient traction with its target customer base is typically a symptom of an underlying issue.   

For a product to incite interest in consumers, it ultimately needs to solve a real and pressing problem and provide a viable solution. An approach to building products like this is more likely to generate greater benefits for you and increase overall revenue. 

Introducing the Jobs to be Done Framework 

Clearly defining your company's buyer personas is fundamental to understanding the type of person you want to sell to and creating, marketing, and selling the products and services they are most likely to buy. However, this is not enough to truly stand out from the competition. 

The Jobs to be Done Framework, often known as the Jobs Stories Theory, is a concept created by Clayton Christensen, Business Professor at Harvard Business School. 

Jobs Theory is a concept which aims to help businesses understand what their customers want to do and why they buy certain products and choose not to purchase others.  

Introducing JTBD at your company

(Source: JTBD) 

The premise behind this considers the functional, social, and emotional factors and the tradeoffs customers consent to when making a purchase. These factors influence and explain why consumers choose to repeatedly buy a product and do not try others.   

By explaining customers' motivations and the forces that impact their journey toward making a purchasing decision, businesses can create better products to sell and pinpoint who are the best customers for their products. 

How the Jobs to be Done Framework taps into what your ideal customers want 

Jobs to be Done intends to help businesses discover how they can innovate their products and services to the next level. A well-rounded Jobs to be Done perspective can help companies predict in advance whether their customers are likely to purchase their product or not. 

Jobs Theory determines that consumers do not purchase a product or service for the sake of buying something. Often, there is an intent behind it. Whether it is the byproduct of an impulsive purchase or the consumer has a goal, they expect the purchased product or service to fulfill.  

When a customer buys a product, they do so with the idea that it will help them achieve a specific goal or "job." The completion of this job will allow the individual to make some level of progress toward an even greater objective. 

Christensen explains, "When we buy a product, we essentially 'hire' something to get a job done. If it does the job well, we hire that same product again when we are confronted with the same job. And if we 'fire' it and look around for something else, we might hire to solve the problem." 

If your product or service fulfills its "job" better than the other alternatives available to the customer on the market, the consumer is more likely to hire it again. 

With this in mind, we can say the JTBD Framework works to help businesses innovate products that provide significant value to their target consumers.  

When companies can understand and identify their customer's core values and motivations, they can create a product that can deeply resonate with their core audience and get hired repeatedly. 

Creating a good Jobs Theory roadmap 

To start using the Jobs Theory to your business's advantage, it is essential to consider the following 3 core characteristics of this concept:  

      1. Every customer wants to achieve something, and they purchase orhire a product or service to help them do this. 

     2. Every customer is part of a system. Every product team and the products they create are also a part of that system.  

Let us explain a bit further.  

When a business interested in purchasing office furniture for their new office headquarters is researching the best options, they are part of the office furniture system. The products (office chairs, desks, conference tables, etcetera) and the company that manufactures these are also a part of the office furniture system. 

     3. Each system can be complex and is unique in its way.

Using our previous example, the office furniture system is unique in that furniture manufacturers can build a wide range of furniture pieces. The quality, design, and technology that goes into creating these pieces will differ based on each manufacturer'specialty. The features potential customers (other businesses) are willing to "hire" the furniture piece. 

These three points make up the backbone of practical Jobs to be Done statements. 

What is a Jobs Theory statement 

A Jobs Theory statement is collection of ideas that help a business understand the intention behind their customer'demands. 

Christian Boltz, CEO of Retail CRM Cloudexplains the importance of understanding his customer's demands and how it reflects in the product's overall success. 

"By meeting our customers' needs with our product, we can smoothly transition through parts of the buying process that otherwise would need more time, energy, and convincing to be done. But having a product that matches there is a lot less convincing since the product is aligned with the customers' needs and, in a way, "sells itself."   

Think about it this way: it's much harder to sell something that nobody needs or wants. By understanding your customers and the problems they are facing, you can better develop your product and sales approach. This is done by focusing on the customer, rather than just pushing to make the sale happen with a product that is not a great match." 

To make it easier for your teams to understand your consumers' motivations, Jobs Theory statements should be specific to reveal the thought process that leads a customer to "hire" a particular product. 

A JTBD statement should: 

  • Capture the underlying motivations and the triggers behind the problems a customer face. 
  • Focus on customers' needs and not on your product or service features. 
  • Help align product, marketing, and sales to form a cohesive message. 
  • Help focus your teams because solving your customers' concerns is a priority. 
  • Aid your team to understand the competition and the context in which people choose to "hire" your product. 

Understanding the core requirements of an effective JTBD statement is the first step toward creating one. 

Understanding the competition 

To apply Jobs Theory as thoroughly as possible, Christensen advises  understanding the competition your product is up against. 

His famous McDonald's milkshake example is a simple yet effective way to demonstrate how one product essentially competes with hundreds of other products that all deliver the same job. 

In this example, a fast-food restaurant wants to increase its milkshake sales. What job do milkshakes do? You can say that they serve as a quick breakfast, a light snack, or a drink to accompany a burger and fries meal.  

However, the restaurant must recognize that its milkshakes compete against other quick breakfast items, light snacks, and drinks to accompany a meal. Not only that, but it can also compete against other products – namely the ingredients that usually go into making these milkshakes. 

The important thing in this example is recognizing why someone wants to buy their milkshake instead of indulging in another food item that could satisfy their craving.


Creating a Job Story 

To uncover the job(s) your customers are hiring your product or service to do requires your business to have at least one fully developed buyer persona.  

By uncovering the story behind your customer, including their wants, needs, and pain points, your team can begin to unravel the kind of product(s) or service(s) they are likely to require. 

By asking questions like: Why are people going through this story? What things are they trying to get done by going through this story? Your team can begin to unravel the job your product or service needs to get done to be "hired" for the job. 

These Job Stories can help you describe the "job" your customer wants to accomplish and see your product from their perspective.  

As a (who the person is), 

when I am (the situation the person finds themselves in), 

I want to (their motivation or action), 

so that I can (the desired outcome). 

Using our previous milkshake example, a Job Stories statement could be: 

As a morning commuter, 

when I am driving to work, 

I want to consume a breakfast item 

so that I can fill my stomach and not have to stop to eat breakfast somewhere. 

In this example, the "job" that the fast-food milkshake has to fulfill is to help the morning commuter feel satiated after consuming the shake while avoiding the trouble to stop for breakfast somewhere else.  

If the milkshake can get the job done, the commuter may decide to purchase it again in the future. 

JTBD: A focus on innovative thinking 

The Jobs to Be Done Framework is meant to provide businesses the opportunity of creating products that get the entire job done, not just a portion of it.  

For example, a CEO would prefer his company purchase one software product that can manage and store all of the organization's data, contact information, and marketing and sales strategies in one place over acquiring multiple software products to do the same job. 

By focusing on the specific job(s) a consumer will expect a product to do, product teams can create a final product that fulfills these expectations. 

At Theia Marketing, we work with our clients to ensure that their marketing and sales messaging aligns with the market expectations of their products. Feel free to contact us to schedule a call and see how we can help take your business to the next level!

Interested in learning more? 


Karen Lopez

Written by Karen Lopez

Karen Lopez is Theia Marketing's Marketing Manager.