What is Jobs to be Done?

Jobs to be Done (JTBD) is a framework for understanding what motivates customers to buy (hire) your product. In the same way, a boss hires an employee to make their business better, customers hire products to make their lives better.

You can visualize it this way: people want their lives to be better. They have a vision of where they want to go. But there are obstacles in their path. A product’s job is to help people make progress towards their dream.

What is JTBD (Jobs to be Done?) graph

Contrary to what you might think, a Job to be Done isn’t functional. It’s not about getting a drill so you can drill a 3/4″ hole.

Jobs are emotional. You saw a beautiful painting in a gallery. Immediately, you could visualize it hanging in your house. You imagined having guests compliment you on your good taste.

So you bought the painting. You got it framed. And now you need to drill a hole so you can hang it.

Having a hole drilled isn’t the destination; it’s a way for you to achieve your dream.

Who is using it?

Companies like Intercom and Basecamp have made big bets on JTBD and made it a part of their product development process.

Jason Fried, of Basecamp, reported that interviewing their customers generated valuable product insights:

What’s most interesting is the situations people find themselves in before they’re our customers. It’s not about this industry or that one. It’s not about demographics, either. It’s not even about the competitive set, yet. It’s all about the situation they’re in, the reality they’re trying to wrangle, and the progress they’re trying to make.

How can you use it?

One way to understand a customer’s Job to be Done is to interview them.

Alan Klement has written an excellent guide on conducting interviews, with sample questions you can ask. For example, to discover the initial trigger in the customer’s mind, he recommends these questions:

  1. When did you first realize you needed something to solve your problem?
  2. Where were you?
  3. Were you with someone?
  4. What were you doing, or trying to do when this happened?

The idea is to build a timeline around the product purchase.

Why do people buy? The purchasing timeline

Understanding the initial trigger, and the events that lead up to the purchase will help you design an effective marketing strategy for your product.

(To learn how to do JTBD interviews the right way, I highly recommend this course by Chris Spiek, Bob Moesta & Ervin Fowlkes.)

Aside from interviews, you can also observe your customers making purchasing decisions, both in-person and online.

People often leave clues on social media, in forums, and in blog posts, that help us understand the timeline behind a purchase. Here’s an example:

i've bought almost one self-help book per day for the last week

lord bless it

— dakota williams (@dakotaw) July 6, 2017

seriously thinking about getting a kindle + kindle unlimited. do any of y'all have experience / thoughts on it? cc @zmagg

— dakota williams (@dakotaw) July 11, 2017

Jobs to be Done Resources


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Published on July 11, 2017