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Jobs Theory Blog

How Would You Beat Home Depot?

competing in the home improvement market

Welcome to our series, "How Would You Beat?" In each article, we pick a company and talk about how you could use jobs-to-be-done innovation methods to beat that company's product. We'll discuss innovation theory and explain the methods you can use to put the theory into practice at your company. Today, we're going to look at how you would beat Home Depot.

We like looking at large corporations and certainly Home Depot would be one of those. They have a $290 billion market cap and are one of the dominant companies in the home improvement market. In 2020, they earned $33 billion in revenue in Q3 alone, which was up 23% year over year. This raises a very interesting question: In the middle of this pandemic, and with millions of people out of work, how are they still growing?

How Is Home Depot Growing?

If you were a new entrant coming into the market, a startup, or even an existing competitor, how would you compete with Home Depot using jobs-to-be-done? What jobs are people hiring Home Depot to help with?

Home Depot is in the home improvement market so, very simply, we could say the job is "improve your home." Given that we're all in a lockdown right now and spending more time at home, we start to see why Home Depot has been able to grow. If we're socializing at home, schooling at home, working at home, and just generally at home more than we have ever been before, we're going to be inclined to improve it and to make it work for our unique situation. So how does Home Depot help you do that? How are they helping you get the "improve your home" job done?

The reason why they're growing is that people are taking funds that they've previously allocated for things like travel and vacation, and since they're not traveling or going on vacation anymore, they're using those funds to improve their homes instead.

"Home improvement" is one way of looking at the market. If you're going to compete with Home Depot -- if you're Lowe's, for example -- you're in a direct, head-to-head competition with them. You're going to be looking at what Home Depot is doing, making the necessary adjustments and likely asking yourself, "Do they have a product that we don't have in our inventory? Are they offering a service in their stores that we don't have?” That's the traditional, direct method of feature-to-feature competition. What we like to do is to use jobs-to-be-done to help companies think a little differently. 

Competing with Home Depot

If you're going to compete with Home Depot, how would you go about it? First, we'd want to break down all the jobs that people are hiring Home Depot to do. Start with a simple job: improving the home office. What are the jobs that people are doing in their home office? Once you've answered that question, then you can go through your entire home. What are you doing in your kitchen, for example? Or what are you doing in the bathrooms and showers? Your living room? In other words, the job is more than just "improve your home." Improving your home is almost a solution to all these other jobs.

Perhaps your job is "make my bedroom look nicer." You might look at that job specifically and realize that, yes, you want your bedroom to look nicer, but really, the core functional job would be "getting a good night's sleep." That's true in every part of your house. "Preparing a meal" is a good example of a job in your kitchen. The point is, there are solutions to these jobs that don't require direct competition with Home Depot. 

If you look at that high-level job of improving your home as a domain, all Home Depot really helps you with this gathering the materials. There are a bunch of other steps in that job covering everything from figuring out how to improve it, to designing that improvement and actually executing it. I cannot tell you the number of things that I would like to improve about my home that I just don't have the time to do, even if they're really simple (this includes maintenance jobs too).

Your home needs to provide shelter. To do that, you need to keep out water. You need to keep your HVAC system working appropriately and that requires regular maintenance. Unfortunately, none of the existing solutions for those things last forever and that's a whole other domain; there are the improvements to the current condition of your home... and then there's the ongoing maintenance of all these things. 

This holds true for something like landscaping as well. You can go to Home Depot to buy a rake, or you can hire a landscaper. This brings up an interesting point about segmentation: some people have the time to do more of the job steps on their own, and those are the people who use Home Depot to gather materials.

I'm sure I'm not just speaking for myself when I say that when you have a family, and you have two adults who work full time, speed and accuracy is critical for the home improvement job. You do not have time to personally take care of all of the maintenance a home requires. It almost makes you regret owning a home in the first place. This job is incredibly underserved. Even finding help to do it is time consuming. (I can't get a contractor to call me back for next to anything.) There's so much opportunity in this in this domain, quite frankly, it's surprising that Home Depot earns as much revenue as it does when this job is so underserved.

What Is the Actual Market?

Another good way of thinking about this is, what is the size of this market? Sure, you could say people are buying materials to improve their home on their own and that's one market. But is that really the market?  We have to think about it more broadly. Home Depot is serving multiple customers, as well as serving the homeowner who wants to go and build their own garden, do their own kitchen improvements, etc. They have services to help you with all of that. However, they also provide a bunch of stuff to contractors who are doing that for you.

As we mentioned, with jobs like "optimize your home" and "maintain your home", those can be further broken down until you decide Home Depot is actually going to be a part of your solution. In jobs-to-be-done, the job beneficiaries are the reason the market exists. This market doesn't exist because of a contractor; it exists because homeowners have a home. They're the job beneficiary. They're the core element. Obviously, homeowners are hiring contractors to help, but also, in the jobs-to-be-done jobs theory framework, they're hiring contractors as part of the solution. 

home improvement contractor

You could add a layer: "optimize my home subscription service." Whenever I have anything go wrong, I just want to make one phone call and have this single service provider come and take care of it. Again, if you've got a busy family, who has the time to take care of this stuff? That's where the big market opportunity is. Imagine different real estate models, different types of homeowners in different communities where you're outsourcing the maintenance, repairs and optimizations.

Condos and co-ops are great examples of this. You pay a maintenance fee and somebody takes care of most of the infrastructure. They don't take care of the inside of your apartment and all the little nooks and crannies, but they make sure the HVAC system is working, the plumbing is working and that the roof isn't leaking. You even see this at the high-end of the market in the case of seasonal homes, or hotels doubling as homes because people want to outsource everything.

If you were to going to compete with Home Depot using jobs theory, you would want to look at all these different markets that they're in. There isn't a single market here. Home Depot is providing all the stuff around your home, but when you're in your home, there are tons of other jobs, from "preparing meals" to "getting a good night's sleep." You can start to see how there's a disconnect just by searching for stuff on Home Depot. A good example is, if you search their site for something like "home office", you'll probably see a bunch of ceiling fans in the search results. That might relate to achieving comfort, but it doesn't necessarily address any of the jobs that you're trying to do with your home office (and it might actually make your home office worse). It  might not be a good solution to get the job done.

Capturing Market Share

If you were trying to compete with Home Depot and take market share, go through each of the true markets, or jobs, involved in being productive at home. One example is "renovate the kitchen." What you might really be focused on -- what the market actually is -- is "prepare a meal." One of the most innovative meal prep solutions ever was the microwave. Think of how much changed with the microwave. New foods were created specifically for the microwave. There's a newer product, called the Brava, which is a type of oven. It's another solution to prepare a meal that uses light instead of microwaves to heat water. (It's really good, I have to say. They're not paying us anything, I just happen to like the product.) Then there are services like Blue Apron and Gobble who deliver prepared meals right to your door.

These solutions are all in the same kitchen-improvement market as Home Depot, even though it doesn't seem like they're directly competing with Home Depot. The end job that customers are trying to get done is the same. These other solutions aren't home improvement retailers but they still present a real risk to Home Depot nonetheless. For instance, if you're using these other solutions, you might not have to renovate your old stove like you originally thought you would. And you might not even be motivated to anymore because now another solution gets the job done so much better. 

Anybody who listens to our podcast knows this situation is analogous to the one we were talking about before the pandemic: airlines should be buying web conferencing companies. They're both targeting the same job, it's just that salespeople are acquiring customers with very different platforms. This holds true for Home Depot as well. Even though they're not in the business of making new, innovative types of ovens, those ovens are helping people get the job done. These new ovens might not be as big of a threat to Home Depot as, say, Zoom was to United Airlines, but the competitive mentality is the same. What are those underlying jobs? How can you think outside the box (or, literally, outside the Home Depot store)?

One of the reasons why retailers continue to compete with Home Depot is because they can sell those products like the Brava. Under their existing business model, any new appliance that's out there as an innovation to help you do something in your home, Home Depot can sell it and make some money off of it. They may miss out on big opportunities to innovate and get the whole job done, but they seem firmly entrenched in the preparation aspect of most of these jobs. By that, we mean the types of jobs where you have to make lots of decisions about how you're going to get the job done, and then acquire whatever materials you might need to do that.

If you're going to prepare a meal at some point, you need to make lots of decisions. How are you going to cook meals on a regular basis? Are you going to use a Brava? Are you going to use a microwave? Are you going to use an oven? An induction range? How am I going to do this? And then you have to acquire those things. That's the risk for Home Depot: they're not in the part of the job that you do every single day. However, their model continues to work as major innovations come onto the scene because they can always become a part of the solution.

The Role of Retailers

So what is the role of retailers? In this home improvement job, retailers are targeting just one step, not the whole job. In "prepare a meal", they're not actually helping you right now to make the meal, or even choose which meals to eat. You can see clearly that with Brava and their business model. It's very much a type of subscription model. They're not just selling you the oven, they want to sell you everything you put in that oven which is providing recurring business. Preparing food is the job that people actually have to do every single day and that's a really big market relative to the market for, say, retiling your kitchen.

Home Depot isn't targeting the whole job and that presents a tremendous opportunity for competitors. As we mentioned before, if you created a service to help homeowners maintain and optimize their home, Home Depot could become a competitor, but right now they're just getting one step done. It's critically important when analyzing a competitor or trying to enter a new market to go through all the different jobs steps. What does it really take to get the job done? You want to know where to focus that home maintenance. You want to be aware of everything going on in your house, from water and electricity to sewage and garbage.

That’s a great way to look at how jobs-to- be-done could be applied specifically to home improvement. You can dissect that job, look at all the different job steps, see what would happen with it, and then you can go into the individual jobs as well.

What Is the Willingness to Pay?

Returning quickly to what we mentioned earlier about segmentation being based on the willingness to pay, in the case of the hotel-type homes offering the plug-and-play maintenance services at the high-end of the market, those are the people willing to pay a lot to get that job done. They consistently spend money on those services to stay on top of maintenance. Then, thinking about the "Do It Yourself" end the market as the lower end, those people aren't willing to pay nearly as much to get this job done. They'd rather just notice it themselves, not spend money on somebody who's monitoring the situation for them, and then actually execute the solution on their own. They just want to spend money on materials they need. In the meaty middle of this market are the people who aren't willing to spend as much to get the whole thing done for them with a single service, but they recognize they're short on time and they're willing to spend more than just the cost of materials. 

It brings up something we don't talk about much, which is the need to create a solution that's profitable. This boils down to a single question: how can you create a service that's almost as good as what the high-end is getting, but at a more economical price point that's still profitable for your business? There should be a business model innovation opportunity as much as a product innovation opportunity. You may use technology to scale whatever the solution is, but it's not a brand new solution because it's already in the market. The high-end is using it and you just need to figure out how to make that cost effective for a different segment.

Map the Job Steps First

The key is, whether you're innovating your business model, products or services, mapping out all those home improvement job steps is the first thing you should do because those are never going to change. With the exception of big platform changes, such as connecting your home to the Internet or building a smart home, most of the improvements people are making to their houses now are the same ones they were making 100 years ago. We're humans. We live in a home. That was true 100 years ago, it's going to be true a 100 years from now. If you're in this home improvement market, break down those jobs and understand what they are before focusing on innovating.

One last note, looking at Home Depot's jobs, for example (or any home improvement retailer's job), the goal is to grow sales. There's a service that identifies a home maintenance project that people wouldn't be doing otherwise, thereby increasing sales of materials. You're getting a job done for the retailers that they might be willing to pay for. If you can give them information about people who are willing to buy materials, and you give them the pole position to sell those materials to them, that's worth money for them. This is one way to decrease the cost of delivering that service.

This is a great example of cooperating with competitors in trying to shift the market. Use jobs-to-be-done to ask yourself a few questions:

  • Is Home Depot competitive if you're in this market?
  • Are they a direct competitor? Are they a threat?
  • Are they a cooperator or a partner?

When you map out and really understand the job steps, then you can place the competitors in the market and realize where you need to differentiate yourself for particular job steps and how to satisfy customer needs for each by partnering with other companies. You can't do everything, which is why you need to find partners along the way. That's often where market evolution happens.

To learn more about our jobs-to-be-done software try it for free today or reach out to get one of our free how-to guides.

Posted by Jay Haynes in jobs to be done, customer job, how would you beat? , 0 comments

Do You Know Your Customers' Jobs-to-be-Done?

what is your customers' job to be done?

Today, people are asking about jobs-to-be-done because it's a trendy topic. Specifically, they're asking, "What is the job?" If you're on a product, marketing or sales team at a company, jobs-to-be-done can help you identify your customers' job, not your company's job. If you're going to build an innovation process that helps your company grow using jobs-to-be-done, you want to look at who the customer is, whether it's a real person at a company, a consumer, or even an entire market. Those jobs your customers are trying to get done are what you want to focus on, not your company's job. That's the key difference with Jobs-to-be-Done Theory.

Understanding Your Customer's Jobs-to-be-Done

History is littered with failures. These are the businesses that focused on their own job instead of focusing on the customer's job, with their own job often being some version of "improve your current product." If we look at Blackberry, for example, they had a mobile device that was a bestseller. It was good. It had a keyboard. They sold a lot of them and they made a ton of improvements to that product. But then the iPhone came out and it got the customers' jobs done much, much better. People stopped buying Blackberries. Suddenly, Blackberry, who had optimized that product and gotten people to buy a device with a mobile keyboard, was losing tons of market share super fast.

Understanding why people buy products and services is the core underlying idea that Clay Christensen at Harvard Business School articulated so well: People don't buy products, they hire products to get jobs done. What that means is, you need a good job statement to define the market you're in.

There are different types of jobs: functional jobs, consumption jobs and emotional jobs. When you're doing your market research, you'll want to start with a great understanding of your customers' job. We often like to say that, very simply, your customers' job is a goal they're trying to achieve or problem they're trying to solve. For example, drivers need to get to a destination on time. Parents need to get a baby to sleep through the night. Doctors need to restore artery blood flow. Salespeople need to acquire customers, etc., etc. There are lots of examples but the point is, if you have a good job statement, and it can pass that wake-up-in-the-morning test, then you're more likely to create a customer experience that will benefit your customer and, ultimately, help accelerate your growth.

JTBD and Disruption Theory

One of the most dangerous things you can do is to focus on your internal metrics only. Internal metrics are great as indicators for your success, but if you start to believe that the only problem you need to solve is how frequently people use your product, or what your profitability is, you can easily lose sight of what your customers' job is, and the ways you can get it done better than your competitors. While you may miss out on opportunities that are more profitable in the short term, over time, you'll end up taking a larger share of the whole market.

This is similar to classic disruption theory where you are the incumbent and you have a successful product. You keep making that product better and better for premium customers. A new product comes in at the low end part of the market, but it's not as good and it doesn't serve your premium customers and their needs. However, it does do well with the low-end of the market that you don't care about. You "flee upstream"  to get the most profitable part of the market because that's what you need at that point to solve your problems as a business. Eventually, you come to believe that the disrupter doesn't matter. That their product is worse. That it's not useful. And, eventually, they catch up to you because they're getting a different part of the job done -- or they get the whole job done better -- and now they take your premium customers as well. smug businessman

It's really important to ask yourself a couple of questions. First of all, who is your customer? Second, how do you target the largest market size possible without going after pure profitability? In other words, how do you get the job done as best as you can in the most profitable way?

The iPhone Case Study

Apple's iPhone is an interesting example looking at it through a few different lenses. First of all, it was a new platform to get jobs done and, of course, it had to compete with the Blackberry. In other dimensions, it clearly wasn't good for typing; it was worse to type on an iPhone than it was to type on a physical keyboard on the Blackberry.  But Blackberry thought of its market as keyboard devices. So what was the iPhone? It was disruptive because it still managed to enter the market, even though it was a very high price point for a phone. Famously, Steve Ballmer dismissed the iPhone saying no one was gonna pay $500 for a phone.

As it turns out, it wasn't really a phone: it's a small computer. Clay Christensen even missed this. He said the iPhone would never be successful because it wasn't disruptive. This, of course, was probably one of the biggest mistakes in business analysis history because iPhones created the most valuable company in the world -- ever.

The iPhone was disruptive to the computer because it enabled people who weren't buying a laptops to now have a personal computer. It was a computer for people who weren't near their computers. If you're on the subway, if you're taking a jog, suddenly you have a computer in your pocket and your laptop can't do that. Steve Jobs famously said, when he launched it, that it was an internet communicator, it was a phone, and it was an MP3 player. It was all three of those things, but really, it was a computer platform that was going to get more and more jobs done over time. This is just one of many great case studies where you could apply jobs-to-be-done theory, looking at the market from this perspective.

Reach out to us today if you'd like to learn more about how to accurately identify your customers’ job-to-be-done, and try thrv for free.

Posted by Jay Haynes in jobs to be done, customer job, job statement , 0 comments

Find the Jobs-to-be-Done Statements that Actually Work

identify customer job to be done

How do you create a good jobs-to-be-done statement? This is critical because you're using language to define what your customers want and what your market is. We know that people hire products to get a job done, so understanding your customers’ job to be done -- whether you have a product or service -- is incredibly important. This is where jobs-to-be-done theory can be extremely helpful.

Functional Jobs vs Emotional Jobs

Before going any further, it will be helpful to first answer a couple of questions:

  1. How do you define a core functional job?
  2. How do you distinguish the functional job from the emotional job?

Well, first of all, we need to know who the customer is. There are job executors, job beneficiaries and purchasers. A job executor is someone who's actually helping to get the job done. The job beneficiary is the person who benefits from the job getting done. The emotional job, on the other hand, is how people want to feel while they’re executing a job. These are important distinctions.

How to Structure the Jobs-to-be-Done Statement

In any market, you want to structure the jobs-to-be-done statement with an action verb and an object. Using an example from a consumer market, we know that consumers don't want Apple or Google Maps, they want to get to a destination on time. “Getting to a destination on time” is a good example of a customer’s job to be done. “Play MP3s” would be a bad example because, of course, an MP3 is a solution to a problem and you don't want to have solutions in your job statements. The power of jobs-to-be-done thinking is being able to define the job(s) independent of any product or service.

Continuing with the action-verb-and-object paradigm, and thinking of jobs that have action verbs but no objects, let’s analyze another bad example of a customer job to be done: communication. “Communicate” seems like an obvious human goal -- something we all do all the time -- but it has no direct object. The reason why it’s not a great job for your team to focus on is because, without a direct object, you might wonder, “What are we communicating?” Are we trying to communicate an idea, a legal argument, a thesis in school? Are you trying to communicate to your partner about relationship issues? Are you trying to communicate a sales pitch? What you're communicating would drastically change the features that make sense on your roadmap to get that job done better.

In “communicating a sales pitch”, you might either want to help somebody with their deck, communicate a value prop, or figure out if somebody is responding well to a price point. None of those things will matter when you're trying to resolve a relationship issue. It's a totally different job with an entirely different set of needs.

There are lots of apps that help us communicate generally, right? Every single SMS application -- Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, email -- is a general communication application. What is the problem with using “communicate generally” as a job to be done? The problem is that those applications are all, essentially, commodities right now. How much are you paying for email? How much are you paying for SMS as a consumer? The answer is probably zero. They're not great markets to get into. Think about this: why would WhatsApp sell for $19 billion to Facebook if it was just about “communicating generally”?

This is an interesting question. You could look at this and say, “Well, what would you pay for an application that would help you communicate better on relationship issues?” That’s a much more specific question and it will certainly require a much more sophisticated answer. It presents a fascinating market opportunity and it’s also a great example of why, when you're structuring a jobs-to-be-done statement, you need an action verb and an object to help define your market.

Accurately Define Your Market with the Right Verb

What specifically is the market you're going after? In B2B markets, we can see examples of where the verb itself is really important. For instance, sometimes we see companies try and structure the job as “manage cash flow” or “manage customers” or “manage employees” or “set up a CRM.” Those are examples of bad jobs-to-be-done statements because those verbs are not the goal. They don't even define the goal.

team manager leading employees

Why do you want to manage cash flow? Why do you want to manage employees? That's what the underlying job is. In this case, you would change it to “optimize cash flow” because you're not just trying to manage it; you want to optimize it for your company's cash flow and profitability. Same thing with “managing employees.” You're really trying to optimize your workforce and optimize your employees so that they can help you create growth and equity value within your company. Are the verbs representative of the end goal, and are the objects representative of what you're actually trying to achieve? That's a much better way to think about the verbs you're using.

Avoid Busy Work

One indicator that you're probably not using a great verb for your jobs-to-be-done statement is if your verb implies that the customer has to do something that could become busy work. “Manage customers” implies that no matter what happens every day, you're going to have to wake up and do something with your customers. But nobody really wants to do that, right? What you really want to do is retain or upsell your customers. You don't want to just communicate with them idly. In fact, your customers probably don't want to be communicated with idly either. They don't want to be managed. Customers want to have support, and “provide customer support” has a clear goal. Bottom line: avoid customer jobs-to-be-done statements that imply busy work without any real positive result at the end of it.

To learn more about identifying your customers’ job-to-be-done and creating a great jobs-to-be-done statement, get in touch with us today and try thrv for free.

Posted by Jay Haynes in jobs to be done, customer job, job statement , 0 comments

Jobs-to-be-Done Exercises to Uncover Your Customers’ Jobs

team exercises using jobs to be done

According to Jobs Theory, your customers are not buying your products, they are hiring them to get a job done. A job-to-be-done is a goal your customers are trying to achieve independent of any product or solution. Their struggle with achieving this goal causes them to purchase new solutions. In other words, the goal of building new products is to satisfy customer needs better than competitors in your market.

There are countless examples of companies that not only failed, but missed enormous opportunities trying to satisfy customer needs better for their products rather than satisfy customer needs better in the job.

The key question then is, how do you figure out what your customer’s job is?

3 Jobs-to-be-Done Exercises

Here are 3 jobs-to-be-done exercises your team can do to uncover your customers' job-to-be-done:

1. Draw on your personal experience. Ask yourself what goal you’re trying to achieve when you use your own product. This is especially effective in consumer markets where it’s likely that you have had an experience similar to that of your customers, and also in B2B markets where you’ve once held the role your customers hold (e.g. your customer is a marketer and you once had a marketing job).

For example, perhaps your product is a CRM and your customer is a salesperson. If you’ve been a salesperson in your career, you can ask yourself, “Why did I use a CRM? What was my goal?” Because you’ve had a similar experience to your customer, you are likely to get pretty close to understanding their job-to-be-done by drawing on your own personal experience. Many startups are successful because the founder had experience trying to get a job done, got frustrated when it didn’t go well or took too long to do, and came up with an idea to solve their own problem. Because the founder had walked in their customer’s shoes, they understood the job and the unmet needs well, and it so happened that lots of other people had the same unmet needs.

Before you do any research, ask yourself what you would want your product to help you do even if your product never existed. Even if you and your team don’t get to an answer you all agree on, it will give you a good hypothesis with which to kick off your research.

2. Ask your teammates who have had the same experience as your customers or have spent a lot of time with your customers and know them well. Perhaps you haven’t had experience walking in your customers shoes but your teammates have.

Let’s take the CRM example again. Maybe you’ve been a Product Manager your whole career but you have salespeople at your company. Ask them, “Why do you use a CRM? What goal would you be trying to achieve even if the CRM didn’t exist?” Perhaps your colleague says, “Because my manager makes me.” Here it can be useful to use the 5 Whys. Ask why until you get to an answer that doesn’t include a mandate from a manager or another product or technology. You’re looking for the salesperson’s underlying goal.

3. Interview your customers. When you or your colleagues don’t have the same set of experiences as your customers or, even with similar experiences as your customers, you can’t all agree on the job-to-be-done, it’s time to interview your customers. Start with people who use your product and expand your interview set to include people in the same position who likely have similar goals but don’t yet use your product.

Conducting a JTBD Interview

Here’s a brief interview guide for identifying a job-to-be-done.

Start by letting the interview participants know how valuable their input is, that you are conducting the interview to understand why they are using your product or service, and what their key goals are. Initially you want to ask, “Why do you use our product or service?”

JTBD customer interview

Don’t settle for the customer describing attributes of the product they like. Ask “why” until you get to the key goal they are trying to achieve in their personal or professional life. Make sure their goal doesn’t include your product or another product.

These are a few helpful prompts that’ll keep your interview on the right track:

  1. “Do you ever wake up in the morning thinking, ‘I need to use this product today.’ If so, why? What do you need to get done?”
  2. “What would cause you to ‘fire’ our product/service? What failures are unacceptable?”

If the interviewee’s goal is professional (related to their work):

  1. “What would get you fired from your job if you failed at achieving it?”
  2. “What would get you a bonus if you succeeded at it wildly?”

When you hear the respondent explain a goal that is independent of your product, phrase it as an action verb plus an object and confirm that this is their goal. Here you are trying to confirm that you have the language correct.

Follow-Up Questions

Once you’ve identified one or more JTBDs, ask these follow-up questions to better understand, and clarify, their goals:

  1. How do you measure your progress towards [JTBD]?
  2. How successful is your company at achieving [JTBD]?
  3. Do you spend money today in your attempt to achieve [JTBD]? What do you spend money on?
  4. What are the key obstacles you face in achieving [JTBD]?
  5. Are you currently looking for new solutions to help you achieve [JTBD]?
  6. Is there anything particularly slow, time-consuming or frustrating about achieving [JTBD]?

No matter which exercise you use to identify your customers' job-to-be-done, at the end of the day, make sure you’ve identified a clear goal with an action verb, a direct object, and no solutions in the statement. To learn more about what makes a great job statement, read, “How to Answer the Question, ‘What’s the Job-to-be-Done?’”.

Posted by Jay Haynes in jobs to be done, JTBD exercises , 0 comments

Product Roadmap Framework: The Ultimate Risk-Mitigation Strategy


Today we're going to talk about adopting a product roadmap framework. This is for teams who are trying to create product roadmaps. If you've ever tried to create one, it can be extremely difficult. There are different ways to prioritize roadmaps. There are different ways to prioritize what features you should focus on. There are different prioritization frameworks.

What we want to discuss is not just a list of different features -- there are lots of ways to do that with lots of different applications. The reason you really want to focus on prioritization is because of the cost of delays and the cost of building a roadmap. It's a ton of risk to build your roadmap and you want to mitigate that risk. What you really want to do with your roadmap is to achieve your business goals through product development, of course. This means you've got to have as inputs in your product roadmap the right product strategy. You have to have specific features you're building that are going to address unmet needs. Generally, your team has to have the right approach to prioritizing your roadmap.

Who Could Use a Product Roadmap Framework?

Let's talk a little about product teams who could use a product roadmap framework. Maybe they have created a roadmap already, they have a document that everybody's working on, but the product leaders -- the various product managers and the internal stakeholders -- have habitually disagreed on what the prioritization should be. You create the document and then you go into a meeting and you bring your whole internal team there (even the newly onboarded employees). You start to discuss, "Oh, this is what we should do, right?" And you find out that there is rampant disagreement and you end up debating like crazy. Often this can happen because you don't have a clear view of the goals of your product and the goals of your roadmap. When you don't have that -- if things are unclear and you're not all speaking the same language -- a framework can be really helpful.

A Product Vision Based on Customer Needs

It's a step-by-step process to adopt Jobs-to-be-Done as your product framework. But ultimately, it is going to massively increase your product development efficiency because it's also going to mitigate risk. This comes from having a product vision. What should your product vision be based on? Well, of course, it should be based on what your customer wants and what they need: your customer needs to get their job done. They're hiring your product to get the job done. Your product vision has to be based on what your customer is trying to do, not what your products are trying to do. That's the first step.

The next step is to agree on what that job is. You've got to get everybody in your team to agree on what that job is. Every job has a whole series of steps and each step has a whole series of needs. Jobs are very, very complicated which is why it's incredibly important to have that be the first step. Determining what you're going to develop means prioritizing where the struggles are in those needs. And that's the next step: identifying those struggles, where the jobs are underserved, and where your competitors are weak.

It's easier for your team to pick a product strategy. This means agreeing on 2 questions: "Where should we focus?" and "What platform are we going to use to get the job done?" It's much easier to agree on your product roadmap prioritization because what you should prioritize is what your customer struggles with. We always shorthand this and joke that product teams actually shouldn't prioritize their roadmaps. Your customers should prioritize your roadmap. The things your customers are struggling with are what you should focus on.

Problem-Based Roadmaps

For decades, there have been product managers talking about problem-based roadmaps. It seems like once every five years or so, we see certain blog posts really take off because of this. And it's always a product manager positing that there should be a problem-based roadmap, that instead of having a list of features, you should just have a list of problems and the stakeholders should get excited about the problems you as a team will solve. Once you determine what those problems are, then the team can go away and investigate the technologies that could be best put to use to solve that problem. They can investigate the cost of implementing them and they can create the priority order of features that they're going to launch that will solve that problem. But the rubber meets the road in how you define a "problem."

customer problem product roadmap framework

Whose problem should you solve? First of all, should you be solving your problems as businesses? Or should you be solving the customer's problem? Secondly, what level of abstraction makes sense for problem solving? Is it a problem like a customer can't find a particular button on your page? Or, do you want to solve the problems that they have independent of your product -- the problems that they have whether you launch into the market or not? Jobs-to-be-Done can help you focus on that. But how?

How Does JTBD Help?

The first step, of course, as we mentioned, is figuring out what the job is. Then, you figure out all the steps to the needs. That's going to give you a much better definition of a customer problem. A customer problem is a goal your customers need to achieve independent of any products or solutions. That's the key. There are plenty of examples of this throughout history: no one wants Apple or Google Maps, they want to get to a destination on time; no one wants a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole; no one wants a swaddle blanket, they want to get a baby to sleep through the night; no one wants a stent, they want to restore artery blood flow, etc, etc.

You need to identify the problems that work at the level of abstraction that you have a risk-mitigated way of solving. What do we mean by risk mitigated? It means you can launch a solution at a cost and a time that allows you to hit your growth goals. So let's say you need to hit a certain growth number, by a certain date, in order to generate the revenue you need to survive as a company. If you have a product idea that will launch three months after that, your company will probably go out of business before you launch it.

When we talk about mitigating risk, it's the risk that you have the wrong idea. It's the risk that the idea will cost too much or take too long to build such that you can't launch it in time to have the right impact on your business. If you have an idea to get a baby to sleep through the night and that's it, and you think you can just make that faster, more accurate, and you can bring that to market at the time your company needs, then go for long as you know it's going to do that better than competitors. But most teams don't have that kind of runway. They can't solve problems that are quite that big and only wait until they solve it to launch.

We recommend you break the problem down into smaller components so you can solve more discrete things. This is where the Jobs-to-be-Done framework can come in handy; it helps you figure out what those more discrete risk-mitigating problems are. For example, to get a baby to sleep through the night, you might need to figure out how much you need to feed the baby before bed. That's a much smaller problem than the whole problem of getting a baby to sleep through the night. It's what we would call a "customer need." If that customer need is unsatisfied, then that's an opportunity for you to get people to switch to using your product if you can demonstrate that you can help them figure out that problem faster and more accurately than the competitors' solutions.

Not only do you need to figure out how big your features are, but you have to figure out how big the problems are that you're going after, and that's a tremendous help in determining what to prioritize in your short, medium and long term.

Posted by Jay Haynes in ROADMAP PLANNING, jobs to be done, product roadmap , 0 comments

3 Tips for Adopting the Product Management Frameworks

product roadmap framework building analogy

Product Management frameworks are exciting to learn and frustrating to implement. As a product manager myself and a framework teacher, I totally understand the appeal. Being a product manager is a messy job. You’re constantly trying to explain to your peers what you do. You didn’t go to school for it. And every day you have to motivate really smart people who don’t report to you to align with your vision and decisions. In the least, frameworks provide a comforting structure. At best, they align and focus your team, leading to operational rhythm and achieving your goals much faster than you anticipated.

As a Jobs-to-be-Done trainer and consultant, I’m obviously a huge fan of frameworks. In the past few years of helping dozens of large and small companies with Jobs-to-be-Done, I’ve repeatedly seen the enthusiasm of learning something new followed by the struggle to implement the lessons. Those who overcome the struggle reap the rewards.

The phenomenon is not unique to Jobs-to-be-Done. Here’s a pattern you have likely experienced with any framework:

  • Hype: Your team reads some articles or even a book about a framework and gets amped about using it to fix broken processes, operations, decision-making, etc. and hit the targets you’ve been missing.
  • Thrill of Education: You bring in expert trainers to teach the framework to your team. The session is one or more days, and your team happily attends. They believe this new framework has great promise, the training will be a nice change of pace, and you ordered great food. At the end of the workshop, momentum is at its peak. The trainers were inspiring, and the team is excited yet a little intimidated about putting the framework into practice.
  • Cannon Shot: The day after training you and your colleagues are shot out of a cannon. You spend the morning unburying yourself from the emails you didn’t answer while you were in all-day sessions. You look on everyone’s calendars to find time for the “Framework Implementation Meeting.” The next available slot is in two weeks. (While you were in the session the rest of the company slammed you with meeting requests). While you wait for the follow-up meeting, your team falls back into its operational patterns. That’s ok, you think, they need to finish their current projects, and there’s a bunch of research to do before we can really use this framework. The follow-up meeting can wait.
  • Land of the Forgotten: This is where your dreams of fixing your broken processes fade. Your follow-up meeting got rescheduled. Finance told you to wait for next quarter to get budget for the research. Half of your resources are working on tech debt. Growth has slowed so much there are whispers of re-org--definitely not a good time to start something new. Your team, your work, your company, and your career remain on the descending path they were on before you learned about the framework.

Don’t let this happen to you. I’ve learned from experience so you don’t have to. Here are three tips to implementing frameworks. Break the pattern and use frameworks to improve your team and achieve your goals.

1. Don’t Add, Change

Frameworks can be extremely powerful, but they cannot add hours to a day. Not only is it unrealistic to ask a maxed-out employee to add something to their plate without taking something off, it’s demoralizing. We’ve all been on the wrong end of that equation, and as a product manager, you’ve already learned this lesson from your engineering team.

Engineers can only handle a finite number of story points in a sprint. If you want to prioritize a new item, you have to de-prioritize something else.

The same is true for Product Managers. You are not superhuman.

To help your team adopt a new framework and the work that goes with it, change their responsibilities.

Change their metrics of success. Change the way they write specs and user stories. Change the meeting schedule. Change the deployment schedule. Change your criteria for decision-making. Change the process for decision-making. Change one of these things, all of these things, or a new thing not listed here, but change something.

Presumably, the reason you got excited about the framework in the first place is that something wasn’t going right on your team and you thought the framework could fix it. Articulate that something. Isolate it. Before you introduce the new framework, offer it to your team as the candidate for change and tell the team, “I expect the framework to replace this thing we do today.” If you do it right, adding the framework decreases the work.

2. Use The Framework Right Now; Waiting Is a Slow Death

The training session ends, everyone is excited, and they think, “I’m really looking forward to spinning up a new project that will be right for this, but I have to finish my current project first.”

Two weeks alarm! Your team interrupts their current project to put out the fire. It takes another two weeks to clear the smoke. Now, they’re back on the project. At lunch one day, someone remembers, “Weren’t we going to adopt that framework?” “What would be a good project for that?” “We should talk about that when I’m back from vacation.” You get back from vacation to 500 emails. The framework is forgotten.

Waiting to implement a new framework will kill it.

Meanwhile, you continue with your old processes, decision-making, and operations that you thought were so broken that you needed a new framework. And every day you do that, you are spending money on development that isn’t achieving your company goals because they were chosen under the old, broken decision-making rubric. Your budget dwindles and you tighten your belts, “We can’t implement something new now; we’re in crisis!”

Here are two ways to avoid this death spiral:

  • Come up with a project (or multiple projects) that will use the framework before you train your team in it.
  • Don’t wait for a special project. Insert the framework into whatever your team is doing today even if you can only make incremental improvements, which brings us to tip number three.

3. Perfect is The Enemy of The Better

Often when you learn a framework, you learn it from an expert who has spent years using, advancing, and teaching it. The framework is full of new terms with very precise definitions. There are specific research, analysis, and decision-making techniques. There are wrong ways of doing things with seemingly disastrous consequences. Leading practitioners have long-standing arguments about the right way to do things. The experience can be intimidating, like you’re walking on a minefield. One wrong step and BOOM.

It can make you feel like using the framework requires perfection and a tremendous amount of work. You can’t use human-centered design without observing your customer in their natural setting. You can’t be Lean without lighting your road maps on fire, allocating all of your engineering resources to instrumenting every pixel of your application to measure user behavior, and hiring a coach for every team. You can’t use Jobs-to-be-Done without doing dozens of user interviews, running lengthy surveys, and executing a detailed analysis of every competitive feature against every customer need.

All of the above activities are valuable and help you mitigate the risk of investing in the wrong product ideas but none of them are necessary to get started with a framework.
You can use a framework before executing all of the research, training everyone in your organization, and building out the infrastructure to support it. Remember, the framework was appealing in the first place because something about your current work habits was broken and you were not realizing your aspirations. Even if you start with a small piece of the framework, even just the way of thinking, it will be better than what you were doing before. Start with that while you invest in full implementation.

For example, if you’re implementing Jobs-to-be-Done, before you do all the research, create a hypothesis about the job your customer is hiring your product to do. Make sure it doesn’t include a solution. Then pick a feature your team is *currently* working on (don’t wait for a new one, see above). Ask, “How would this help our customers get the job done? Which struggle with the job does it help our customers overcome? Does it satisfy that need faster and more accurately than their current solution?” Then refine the feature based on these answers to try and satisfy the need better than the competitive solutions.

Because you didn’t do your customer interviews yet, maybe your job will not be at the perfect level of abstraction or you’ll articulate it in a way that’s not exactly in the customer’s language. Maybe the need you identified is not the *most* unmet need because you haven’t done your survey yet. Perhaps you’ll miss an element of the existing solution that makes your speed assessment a bit off. But at least you’ll have a justification for developing the feature that is clearly connected to a customer problem, builds your team’s customer empathy, aligns your team with the customer’s goal and a clear goal for your feature, and potentially leads you to refine your feature and increase your likelihood of success with it. Those are a lot of benefits even though you are still far from implementing the framework perfectly.

In parallel, you can do all the work related to getting the full value of your framework, but don’t wait for that. In the meantime, your team can perform much better than they do today.

Posted by Jared Ranere in ROADMAP PLANNING , 1 comment

How Google Sheets Took Share From Excel Using Competitive Positioning


By definition, most product, marketing and sales people don’t work at market leading companies. In order to build a business, we need to get people to switch from using some other product or get them to add our product to their solution set. We know this goal is achievable because we’ve heard great product success stories: Salesforce beats Siebel Systems, Spotify overtakes Pandora, and, one of my favorites, Google Sheets vs Microsoft Excel. 

In this post, we’ll use Jobs-to-be-Done to understand how Sheets’ competitive position made it clear to customers when they should switch and why, and in the process took share from Excel. Through this story, you’ll learn how JTBD can help you define a differentiated competitive position that leads to growth.

But first, what does competitive positioning mean?

Identify Competitive Positioning

Competitive positioning is how you differentiate yourself from competitors so that your customers will know when and why to choose your product over your competitors.

In his 1985 book, Competitive Strategy, Harvard Business School professor, Michael Porter, identifies 4 different competitive positions that can be used to achieve a competitive advantage. The basic idea is that you can use your advantage on costs to target the broad market or a niche market, or you can use your product differentiation to target the broad market or a niche market.





  1. Cost Leadership Position - Target the broad market with lower costs than your competitors. Either maintain a high price and generate higher margins or lower your prices and take more market share. 

  2. Cost Focus Position - Focus on a narrow or niche market with a low cost product.

  3. Differentiation Leadership Position - Satisfy needs with your product differently than your competitors in the broad market.

  4. Differentiation Focus Position - Satisfy needs with your product differently than your competitors in a narrow or niche market.

What was Google Sheets' Competitive Position Within This Rubric? 

The Google Blog post announcing Google Sheets in 2006 is titled, “It’s Nice to Share.” It talks about how Google wants to help people “quickly and easily share information in real time,” and closes with:

So don’t be surprised if you are soon invited by someone to share a spreadsheet. (We're rolling this out as a limited test.) Your kid's sports coach, your aunt in Omaha trying to organize a major family reunion, your friend who promised to compile a list of all your favorite hiking trails (and now wants you to help), or your project team which now has a way to keep tasks and status in one place for all to see.

In the official product announcement, Google highlights the drawbacks of traditional spreadsheet software, “Ever found yourself trading email attachments with several colleagues, trying to collaborate on a document, only to have someone chime in at the last moment with corrections to an outdated version?” They then explain that on Google Sheets & Docs, users can “easily collaborate with others, online and in real time.”

When it launched, Google Sheets was free. Excel, of course, could only be used by people who purchased a Microsoft Office license.

From this messaging, we can see that Google targeted a broad market (the variety of customers mentioned in the blog post) with lower costs (free). But, they also differentiated their product. They used a combination of Porter’s Cost Leadership and Differentiation Leadership positioning strategies to win. 

If you were Google’s product team, how would you maintain confidence in this positioning strategy when publications like MIT Technology Review are writing, “Leading technology bloggers’ reactions to Google Spreadsheets… have ranged from lukewarm to hostile.”

How do you determine the positioning strategy and marketing strategy that will win, on what dimensions to differentiate your product, and what features to focus on during the next product offer to avoid getting caught in the dreaded feature catch-up trap with your leading competitor?

And let’s assume you don’t have unlimited funds like Google so your answer can’t be, “Hire the smartest people in the world, pay them enormous salaries, hope for the best, and if they don’t succeed no big deal because we still have AdWords.”

This is where Jobs-to-be-Done can be a huge help in mitigating the risk of choosing the wrong competitive position and helping your team stay confident that they are on the right path.

In JTBD, your competitor position is defined by answering the following questions:

  1. What customer will you target?

  2. What Job will you target?

  3. What Job Steps will you target?

  4. What product platform will you choose to satisfy unmet needs in the job steps differently from your competitors?

These questions put the focus on the “Differentiation” half of Michael Porter’s quadrant. Once you answer those questions, you can then set your price based on the customer’s willingness to pay to get the job done, the cost of developing your solution, and your target profit margin. 

You can conduct market research to answer these questions. The research gives you insights that help you stay confident in your position decision and your product roadmap even when you will never catch up to the feature set of the incumbent.

Here's how it works: 

  • Define your customer

    In JTBD, your key customer is the Job Beneficiary--the person who benefits from the job getting done. Google made an explicit choice to target consumers and general information workers as opposed to the financial analyst professionals that were Excel’s power users. This is the first way in which they differentiated their position from Excel--a different customer choice.

  • Choose jobs to target

    A job is the goal your customer is trying to achieve independent of any solution. The fact that people want to achieve these goals is the reason why markets exist. In Jobs Theory we define a market as a group of people trying to get a job done as opposed to a group of people who purchase a particular product. Since products change over time but jobs do not, this market definition gives product teams a stable target. As technology changes they are still trying to help customers achieve the same goal and can think through how the new technology will get the job done better as opposed to feeling like the market for their product has disappeared.

    The key is to choose jobs that people struggle with and which have a market size large enough to achieve your revenue goals. The market size is calculated from the willingness to pay to get the job done and the number of people who want to get it done. Here, Google made another distinct choice, targeting jobs like, “organize an event” and “get projects done with a team.” The biggest insight into their strategy is the fact that there are no jobs along the lines of “make a complex financial decision,” which is a major focus of Excel and the complex feature set that power users such as financial analysts use. To feel confident in this choice, you can conduct research to find out how many people need to get the jobs done, how much they are willing to pay for it, and how difficult it is for them to get the job done. Google chose jobs that very many people are willing to pay a little bit to do (still a large market).

    When you look at the job steps you can see the struggle for the customers Google chose is of a very different nature from the struggle of financial analysts.

  • Choose job steps to target

    Job Steps tell the story of what a customer needs to do to get a job done. You can interview customers to determine the job steps.

    Here’s a hypothesis of the steps in “get projects done with a team”:

    1. Define the goal of the project

    2. Identify the tasks

    3. Figure out assignments and timing

    4. Execute the tasks

    5. Assess progress

    6. Adjust assignments and timing

    7. Deliver the project

If we were to conduct interviews, we’d likely find that this job is considerably more complex with more steps. But for the sake of this post, we want to see how different this job is from “make a complex financial decision.” Here are some of the steps in the financial decision job:

    1. Define the outcome of the decision

    2. Collect financial data relevant to the decision

    3. Analyze the data

    4. Build models for forecasting

    5. Assess the outcomes of each decision

    6. Choose the decision that leads to the optimal outcome

    7. Provide evidence for the decision

    8. Gain agreement with stakeholders

Once you break down the steps, you can see how focusing on different jobs leads to prioritizing extremely different feature sets. To help people complete projects, Google’s feature set related to sharing and collaborating helped with the steps: “identify the tasks,” “figure out assignments and timing,” and “assess progress.” Excel’s feature set helps with “analyze the data,” “build models for forecasting,” “assess the outcomes,” “choose the decision,” and “provide evidence.”  

To feel confident in this decision you can run surveys to determine how difficult each job step is for customers trying to get that job done. If a step is difficult for a customer segment whose market size is large enough, you know your position will work even if it means de-prioritizing features that are traditionally viewed as important to your product.

The target job steps lead to the platform choice.

  • Choose a platform to satisfy needs differently.

    When you have job steps in focus, it’s clearer why Google chose to prioritize sharing and collaboration features, which led to the decision to build their spreadsheets on the web rather than as a desktop application running locally. Excel needed to do complex computations quickly to help with the target job steps in the financial decision job. Desktop applications were better at running those computations than the web. And of course, Excel is a legacy product architected before the web. By choosing a different platform Google could satisfy the unmet needs better for their target customers and their jobs (e.g. get projects done with a team).

By answering all of these questions differently than Microsoft, Google created a highly differentiated position for a product in a similar category, which is why they could confidently take their roadmap in a very different direction and take share from Excel with far fewer features.

When you think about how to differentiate your competitive position, figure out how you answer the key questions differently from your competition, collect qualitative and quantitative data about market size and customer struggle to build confidence in your position, and then keep your product and marketing teams focused on making strong decisions that align with the strategy.

Posted by Jared Ranere in jobs to be done, competitive positioning , 0 comments

Stop the Boring Marketing Messages with JTBD Targeted Messaging

send targeted messages to target audience

What is targeted messaging? Why is it important to your product, marketing and sales teams? How do you use jobs-to-be-done to deliver effective targeted messages?

Companies frequently make the mistake of creating messages about their product’s features or technologies. For example, software companies love to message about their artificial intelligence or machine learning algorithms. Messaging to technologies or features is a mistake. Why? Because your customers don't care about your product or your technology. They care about what the technology or features can do for them. Do you think your customers really care about your machine learning algorithms? Trust me, they absolutely do not. No one wakes up in the morning and says “Gee, I wish I had a machine learning algorithm today.” This isn’t a human goal.

“Our machine learning algorithms are the most advanced in the world!” is an absolutely terrible marketing message. Who cares about this? No one.

Uncovering Unmet Customer Needs

What your customers care about is how does any new technology or feature help them get their job done (i.e. achieve their goal) faster, more accurately, and with less effort than the current competitive solutions in the market. In other words, your customers care if your product satisfies their unmet needs. If your machine learning algorithm does that, then great! Your targeted messages should explain how it does that, not what your technology is.

Generating your targeted messaging involves uncovering unmet customer needs in your customers’ job. The jobs-to-be-done framework shows that every JTBD is a goal that has steps that a customer has to take to get the job done. And each step has variables and actions (customer needs) that your customer has to take to get a job step done. (For more on identifying job steps and your customer’s needs, check out our YouTube channel.)

For example, in getting to a destination on time, one of the job steps it to plan the stops and one of the customer needs is to determine the optimal sequence of stops. If this is an unmet need (which you can determine with a quantitative survey), then your messages should target this need.

Transforming Negative Emotions

Your messages should also explain how you are transforming your customers’ emotions -- particularly their negative emotions -- into positive feelings when they have to get a functional job done. For example, if determining the optimal sequence of stops is an unmet customer need and feeling anxious about being late is a negative emotion, then your messages should explain how your machine learning algorithms satisfy this need and transform your customer’s negative emotions (like anxiety) into positive feelings (like confidence).

Here is an example message using an unmet need: “Our machine learning algorithms automatically arrange your busy day in the optimal order to keep you on time, confident and relaxed.” See the difference? Ideally you wouldn’t even mention your “machine learning algorithms” at all.

Wherever you distribute your messages -- via Google Ads, social media, and/or personalized emails -- they should convey your intent to help your customers get the functional job done and overcome the anxiety, worries and concerns associated with executing their job.

This is how you can build a personalized experience that will resonate with your customers. They'll understand what your product is doing for them, regardless of the technologies or features in your product.

Who Are Your Customers?

What do your customers value, either in their personal or professional lives? Start by identifying your customers. Are you targeting consumers like parents, or single people? Retirees, or travelers and vacationers? Or, are you targeting businesses? What part of the business are you targeting? Are you focused on the financial executives, operations or human resources? You can be even more specific by targeting certain industries, such as aviation, travel and leisure, finance or automotive. If you’re in a medical market, who are you targeting? For instance, you could be going after patients with certain conditions, surgeons, nurses or hospital administrators.

Once you understand who your customer is -- and you realize your customers are real people with real goals they are trying to achieve -- then you can begin to segment your market. Parents need to get a baby to sleep through the night. Diabetic patients need to obtain a blood sample. Aviation directors need to ensure their aircraft are air-worthy. Understanding your customer and their job will help you identify all the different needs in that job. The customers’ needs are the variables that a customer should know about in order to get the job done.

Let's return to the example job of “getting to a destination on time,” and the unmet need of determining the optimal sequence of stops on their route. You can see why this is an unmet need because if you're a busy person and you have multiple stops throughout the day, you’ll want to follow the optimal sequence of stops to make sure you're going to be on time. If you're not going to be on time to an important work meeting, that creates anxiety.

google maps decision maker

In this case, a targeted message would explain that your new solution can automatically sync with a user's calendar, ensuring their meetings and appointments are in the right order and helping to keep them on time. If they're not going to be on time because of traffic, construction or some other delay, then your product would notify them of this. A goal of your message should be to help them overcome their anxiety about being late and make them more confident they're going to be on time.

If it takes too much effort for them to satisfy these needs, then you’ll know the need is unmet. Make sure your targeted messages explicitly explain how you satisfy the unmet need. To learn more about using JTBD to create targeting messaging for your customers, contact thrv today and try our free online course.

Posted by Jay Haynes in jobs to be done , 0 comments

How Would You Beat Facebook?

how would you beat facebook

How can you use Jobs-to-be-Done innovation methods to beat your competitors? In this next installment of “How Would You Beat?” we explain how to define markets using JTBD, which is the critical first step in figuring out how to beat a competitor like Facebook. Your customer's job-to-be-done is your market. We’ll discuss innovation theory, show you how to define your customer's job-to-be-done, and explain the methods so you can put the theory into practice at your company.

Beating Facebook with JTBD Innovation Methods

Facebook's 2004 origin and rise to power is well-documented and steeped in controversy. By 2008, they had created their iOS app, introduced Facebook chat, and overtook MySpace, the original social media giant. Facebook’s market cap today is $800 Billion. Over 1.5 billion people use Facebook every day. They own 4 of the top 10-20 most used mobile apps. How can you beat them? The obvious answer seems to be “build a better social network.” However, this is an oversimplification. As we’ve seen with Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp, Instagram and a host of other competing social networks, if Facebook senses competition they will come after you. If they can’t buy you outright, they will simply copy the best features of your product (think FourSquare’s location check-in feature, or Snapchat’s Stories).

The first step to beating Facebook using JTBD innovation methods is figuring out what market Facebook is actually in. According to Jobs Theory, customers don’t want your product, they want to get a job done. What are the goals people are using Facebook to accomplish? What problems does Facebook help them solve? Those are the markets that likely won’t change much over time. Facebook helps people get the job “stay informed” done much better than other competing solutions.

Facebook’s Two-Sided Market

As Clay Christensen said in his book “Competing Against Luck,” Facebook is competing with a cigarette break. Companies compete with more than just a product that directly looks like them. The underlying job of both a cigarette break and checking Facebook is “change my mental state.” In both cases, you’re doing it to relax or de-stress.

Facebook is in a two-sided market. The first market is the users they target through the social network product they’re selling. The second market is helping advertisers sell advertising. Almost all of their revenue, profitability and market cap comes from helping advertisers sell advertising. This means, when competing with Facebook, you can compete on either the user side of the market or the advertising side of the market.

On the user side, is there something you can do to help customers change their mental state better? If so, what is the business model for that solution? On the advertising side, can you help advertisers acquire customers more effectively than they can on Facebook? These are both great ways to cause problems for Facebook.

Which Jobs Do You Focus On?

The next key question: Which job do you focus on to make this work? How you describe the job is critically important. What are the unmet needs in the job and who are the people who really struggle with these unmet needs? Answering those two questions will help you segment your market more intelligently. segment your market

So, how can you beat Facebook? Using JTBD theory, a smart approach would be getting your foot in the door by targeting a more specific segment in your market. This will help you grow your platform over time and allow you to eventually target more jobs and more customers, as opposed to trying to target everyone like Facebook does. If you define your product based on your market -- or, worse yet, your competitors’ market -- you’re almost always going to fail. To beat Facebook, the first step is defining the market from the point of view of the customers you’re trying to target. What jobs are they trying to get done?

Check Out the Podcast!

You can listen to this episode of our “How Would You Beat?” podcast on Spotify, Apple, and YouTube. We will be posting more videos to help you use JTBD at your company. If you enjoy this video, please share it and like it on YouTube.

Don’t play feature catchup. Lead the innovation with JTBD. Jobs Theory gets you the insights you need to think differently about your customers, your markets and your customers’ unmet needs. Contact us today and try thrv for free.

Posted by Jay Haynes in jobs to be done , 0 comments

The Missing Link Between Sales Capability Frameworks and Closing

sales management jobs-to-be-done

As the head of sales, you’ve likely experimented with numerous frameworks for your sales team. There’s also a good chance that you’ve grown tired of the redundant message across all of them:

  • “Challenger reps aren’t focused on what they are selling, but what the person they are speaking to is trying to accomplish.” - Challenger
  • “People buy when they perceive a discrepancy between reality and their desired results.” - Strategic Selling
  • “When we talk about needs we want to talk about them below the surface. We want needs to reflect the real pains of your buyers, consumers, users, and customers.” - NEAT Selling

Although these sales capability frameworks help create a philosophy explaining why customer needs are important, they don’t give sales teams the content or tactical direction on what the customer needs are, or how your solution satisfies them better than competitors. So what’s the missing link? How can you get your sales team to understand the customer need and use that to improve sales performance and close more deals? The answer is Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD).

Here’s an overview of how Jobs-to-be-Done helps you fill out the content in your Challenger, Strategic, or NEAT sales pitch, aligns the sales team with the product team, and allows you to accurately evaluate the performance of your team and the success of your sales capability framework throughout the sales cycle.

1. Gain Alignment on Who the Customer Really Is

In many markets, especially B2B, the distinction between the Job Beneficiary (the person who benefits from getting the job done) and the Job Executor (the person who does the work to get the job done) is critical to understanding the needs of the person you are talking to. The executor is part of the solution to getting the job done. New solutions will be developed to help the beneficiary get the job done on their own without the current executor. If your solution puts the Job Executor’s role at risk, bring up the fact that she can now allocate time to a higher-order task.

One example of a solution targeting a Job Beneficiary is cloud-based applications. They have enabled companies to reduce or eliminate specialized IT managers (Job Executors) so that non-technical employees (Job Beneficiaries) can benefit from secure data use without having to rely on IT. In medical markets, new medical devices have been developed to allow a patient to obtain a blood sample on their own without a specialized phlebotomist.

Once you have defined your target customer as the Job Beneficiary or Job Executor, you can better understand who your solution is really for, target them in your prospecting, and tailor your sales pitch.

2. Define the Ultimate Customer Goal (or Job-to-be-Done)

Connecting your product to the goal of your customer is a fast way to determine the value they want to get from your solution. Framing it as a job-to-be-done is helpful because it ensures that you focus on their goal independent of technology or a given solution.

For example, you don't want to sell AI. You want to sell how AI helps your customer achieve their goal, which has nothing to do with AI. They had this goal before AI and they will still have it when the world is hot on some new tech.

What customers want is to be understood. They want you to tell them that whatever problem they’re experiencing -- whatever goal they want to achieve -- your product is going to do what they need it to do. By getting to the heart of their goal, you’re able to have a more natural, empathic conversation during the sales call. Customers are more likely to open up and discuss their unmet needs. You are there to empathize with their struggle and provide real value.

Tip: Once you’ve discovered the job-to-be-done, share a similar success story. Focus on developing a hero (previous customer) who overcame the same struggle. Highlight how you helped them do it faster, more accurately, and worry-free. Include metrics and proof points of how you helped this customer get the job done.

3. Avoid the Feature-to-Feature Comparison Trap

When a product team strives for feature parity with a competitor, they are in the follower's position. If you've ever been on a team that is playing feature catch-up, you know it's like bailing water out of a leaky boat: every time you release a feature and think your work is done, your competition releases something new, racing ahead of you yet again. 

Microsoft thought they caught up to the iPod by including all of its features in the Zune; Apple launched the iPhone. Microsoft tried to catch up again with the Windows Phone, but playing catch-up leads to failure.

Feature-to-feature competitive analysis often fails to identify new competitive threats that can emerge from a different category of products or services. Encyclopedia Britannica thought they were competing with other collections of books and failed to realize how CD-ROMs (and eventually the Internet) could upend their business and lead to their failure.

If a customer asks if you have a particular feature, guide the conversation back to the unmet needs they have and the job they need to get done. Keep the conversation grounded in what’s most important to them, and the features will become less important.

4. Create a Successful Alignment with the Product Team

Developing a jobs-to-be-done framework for your teams is critical in not only providing your sales team with the right structure to close deals, but it also provides them with the right language to collaborate more productively with the product team.

Sales and product teams have long been on opposing forces within an organization. Sales is unsatisfied with the lack of new features they can sell and the product is unsatisfied with the lack of support and quality feedback they are getting. It’s an age-old battle that will continue as long as features stand at the center of business development, product development and selling.

However, when teams are aligned on the Job-to-be-Done, there is more clarity on what provides real value to customers. Creating a JTBD product development strategy allows for product teams to build a customer-focused roadmap, and it gives sales teams a more guided framework on how to sell the product. Instead of going back and forth on customer demands and new features, sales teams using JTBD will be able to validate the job, and product teams will have more data that falls in line with their roadmap.

Evaluating Your Sales Capability Framework

Now that you know what to include in your sales pitch and how to align your teams, how can you track the progress and measure the success of the JTBD sales capability framework? Obviously there are the financial and conversion-based performance metrics like monthly sales growth, lead conversion rate, customer acquisition cost, and average profit margin, but there are other indicators to track that are just as important. Start by asking yourself a series of questions:

  • What role is the marketing team playing in helping your sales people?  What about the leadership team? Is there much collaboration going on? 
  • What kinds of tools or software are your sales teams using? commercial capability busy salesman
  • Have members of your sales team taken jobs-to-be-done training courses? Do you even offer training courses? If so, how did they perform during these courses? Is there any correlation between their course performance and their field performance? If you're looking for ways to be more innovative with your sales training, consider setting up an innovation training program first. Check out Playing Lean's guide to get ideas for building a sales curriculum, find good training examples and keep your students engaged.
  • How are you measuring customer satisfaction? Do you have a customer satisfaction baseline to compare results to? Are customers getting their job(s) done?
  • Do your key performance indicators (KPIs) differ for each sales role? A sales director will have different metrics than a sales rep.
  • What industry are you in and do your KPIs, sales competencies and metrics reflect that industry?

JTBD is not a strategy reserved solely for product teams. Implementing JTBD across sales, product, and marketing teams allows your entire organization to develop a cohesive language that is customer-focused and memorable. If you want to learn more about how to train your teams on JTBD, contact us today and try thrv for free.

Posted by Jay Haynes in jobs to be done, sales , 0 comments

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