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Using The Jobs Theory To Innovate Brands


Using The Jobs Theory To Innovate Brands

Today’s marketers are bombarded with directives about what to look for when gathering customer insights. Sorting through all the jargon can be almost as challenging as actually designing a new product. Here’s a quick look at how jobs are fundamentally different.

Jobs Are…

  • The underlying tasks that customers are trying to get done
  • Customer demands that are specific to discrete customer types and occasions
  • Actionable statements that guide the design of new solutions

Jobs Are Not…

Needs – customer articulations of what they would like to see in a new product

Jobs are real representations of what customers are trying to get done, even if customers cannot articulate what they want or do not understand the range of possibilities for a breakthrough innovation.

Need states – occasion-based statements about what customers want and how they want to get it

While the Jobs framework also takes an occasion-based lens, the focus is on fundamental tasks. The framework allows for tailored solutions that can satisfy multiple jobs, including in ways that customers have not yet thought about.

Outcomes – measurable goals that customers are seeking to meet

While customer-created success criteria are useful, jobs are more fundamental. Because customers are notoriously bad at stipulating the emotional outcomes they want to achieve and providing outcome-driven guidance on products that do not yet exist, it is more useful to understand what those customers are trying to get done.

Attributes – features that add value to a new solution

Jobs are not simply easily replicable features that can be used to promote a product. They address underlying customer concerns, allowing for a broader solution space in which new offerings can take a wider variety of forms.

The Jobs Concept In Action

Yowzit had concerns about its website. This South African Internet start-up, which runs a leading site for customers to rate and review a wide range of services, was doing well but not experiencing exponential growth. Management wanted to connect with customers in an intuitive way, driving further traffic and longer visits to the site.

As the company’s managing director, Pramod Mohanlal, put it, “We knew that we were addressing a part of an important job, but we needed to understand more deeply what context we could it into.”

The company started talking in depth to its users. It didn’t ask initially for specific ideas for improvement but rather tried to understand key jobs in certain contexts. When were the last three times you used the site? Why did you do that? If you hadn’t used the site, what would you have done? How did using the site make you feel? What feelings were important to you then? How did the site’s use it into the broader set of things you were trying to accomplish?

Using this approach, the company thought up new tools for its customers to use and figured out how to position the site in a Jobs focused way. In addition to promoting functional benefits, such as tools focused on just-in-time ways to improve a night out, the company created ways to satisfy emotional jobs, including new branding around self-expression. It also added new features such as video reviews that enabled in-the-moment expressiveness, particularly for users who felt uncomfortable writing on the fly. The company has used these insights not only to drive much greater traffic but also to drive entry into new spheres such as rating public services. Mohanlal explained: “Thinking about jobs made us recognize that we were playing at the edge of a huge market, and we’ve vastly expanded our potential by keying into what really motivates behavior.”

Many companies try to innovate by looking backward. They focus on what they are already selling or doing and on how their customers currently behave. By focusing on jobs, you look deeper—at what really drives behavior. This perspective can totally change the innovation landscape, and it ensures that ideas connect with customers’ true motivations rather than with what they happen to be doing today. A Jobs approach sets you up to win both today and into the future. Focusing on Jobs to be Done, rather than on past customer purchase behavior, allows you to define a broader solution space with more opportunities for innovation.

Designing a product that satisfies functional jobs in a superior way is a necessary first step. If you also appeal to customers’ emotional needs, whether your customer is an individual consumer or a large corporation, you can make your product a breakthrough success.

This requires designing offerings for specific customers on specific occasions. Be wary of getting into feature wars with your competitors. Features are easy to copy, and adding too many can ultimately make for a frustrating user experience.

Similarly, focus on satisfying high-priority jobs, looking first to the jobs that are both important and under-satisfied in the eyes of the customer.

More of this approach is featured in my new book JOBS TO BE DONE: A Roadmap for Customer-Centered Innovation.

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