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Jobs Theory Blog

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

How to Achieve Team Alignment Using Jobs-to-be-Done

team success organizational alignment

Let's just say it: working with a terrible team sucks. It really sucks. Whether it’s your leadership team, your colleagues or your peers, working with a team that sucks, absolutely sucks. It’s even worse when your team doesn’t know what they’re supposed to be focused on. This is called team misalignment and it is especially terrible for product teams. Your team needs to work together on a product roadmap and a product strategy that will help you succeed and beat your competition. When your teams aren’t working together, that can kill your company.

Why is team alignment so difficult to achieve? Well, humans don't really know what to focus on. How do you get your team focused so they start working well together?

Align Your Team by Focusing on Your Customer

Teams have all sorts of issues. They have issues with customers, they have issues with competitors, they have issues with each other, they have issues at home that they bring to work. It can be incredibly confusing. The solution is pretty simple though. Focus on your customers.

This is what your team should be doing: figuring out how to satisfy your customers and do it way better than your competitors. Again, without any sort of agreement amongst your team members on what you're supposed to focus on, this can be incredibly difficult. Enter: jobs-to-be-done (JTBD). JTBD is a better way to get organizational alignment and team agreement. How does this work? The key concept in jobs-to-be-done is that your customers are actually not buying your product. They're hiring your product to get a job done. Think about this for a minute.

Your customers do not care about your product at all. They're humans. They want to get back to their lives. They want to be with their families and their friends. They have goals to achieve in their work lives and they have goals to achieve in their personal lives. These goals are called jobs-to-done. Your customers don't want to spend time using your product. What they want to do is get their job done and get back to their lives.

This is how you can start to align your team (and get them to stay aligned). First, focus on what it is that your customers are trying to do. Are they a consumer? Are they a parent? Are they a retiree? Are they young adults starting their career? Are they trying to change careers? Do they have health problems? Is it a business? Are you focusing on the finance department, operations, product teams, marketing teams, sales teams, executives…? There are lots of different approaches to markets, but you have to know who your customer is and what their job-to-be-done is.

For example, consumers need to get to destinations on time, parents need to get a baby to sleep through the night, patients need to obtain a blood sample, CFOs need to optimize cash flow, salespeople need to acquire customers, etc. The key insight is that your customer’s job-to-be-done is independent of your product. So the market you are in is not your product, it is your customers JTBD.

Job Steps and Customer Needs

Once you have identified and defined your customer and their job, you can start to break that job down into a series of steps and customer needs. This is key. You can understand all of your customer's needs, independent of any product or service. In trying to determine what your customers' needs are, jobs-to-be-done is extremely useful, and it's been proven to work exceptionally well because the needs in your customers’ job are independent of any solutions.

For example, no one wants Apple or Google Maps; they want to get to a destination on time. If your team was trying to beat Apple and Google Maps and your business goal was to generate more revenue, you would want to start by analyzing the job of getting to a destination on time. This job, like all jobs, has steps, and steps follow a pattern. You can think of job steps as a basic explanation of what your customer has to go through to achieve their goal. To get to a destination on time, consumers have to do things like estimate the departure time, plan the stops, travel to the destination, assess if they're going to get to the destination on time along the way, reset the route if necessary (if there's some sort of delay, for example), and then conclude the job by parking the car and walking to the destination. Every job follows this pattern of job steps. 

frustrated driver during a job step

Job steps are complex, but you can break them down into a series of variables. If, for example, consumers are trying to plan the stops throughout their busy day, they need to know a bunch of variables, including the optimal sequence of stops, as well as the route to take to each stop. Then, you add an action your customer has to take with the variable because -- remember -- they're trying to get the job done. It turns out, there are about 100 customer needs for every job. That means it’s critical you use the customers’ needs to have a structured conversation during a strategic planning session with your team that will help you decide how to focus and where to focus.

Once you have all these needs, you can survey your customers to figure out where they struggle. This is what will get your team working together and aligning towards your customer to achieve team success. Here is the process:

  1. Get your team to agree on who your customer is.
  2. Get your team to agree on what your customer’s JTBD is.
  3. Get your team to agree on the job steps and needs.
  4. Get objective survey data to identify where your customers’ struggle.
  5. Use the survey data to build your product roadmap, making sure your product satisfies needs faster and more accurately than your competitors.

Even if there are jerks on your team, if you can get them to agree where your customers struggle, you are more likely to build a strong product roadmap and sell a successful product to beat your competitors. To learn more about team alignment using jobs-to-be-done, contact us today and try thrv for free.

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

Using the Jobs-to-be-Done Framework to Define Customer Needs

creative process

Jobs-to-be-done is more than just a theory. It also provides a framework for complete product innovation that makes your customer the focal point of your product strategy. The jobs-to-be-done framework makes it easy to identify and categorize customer needs. While the jobs-to-be-done framework goes beyond the theory, both rely on the same set of principles:

  1. Define your customer without using buyer personas. You have to understand the different types of customers, and most importantly, the job beneficiary.
  2. Define your market without using your product. Your market is your customers’ job to be done.
  3. Calculate market size without relying on the product price. Your market size is your customer’s willingness to pay.
  4. Define your customers’ needs using actions and variables in the job. Don’t ask your customers what product they want.
  5. Prioritize unmet customer needs with a quantifiable survey rather than relying on industry opinions, trends or NPS scores.

To effectively satisfy your customers’ needs, the jobs-to-be-done framework can be broken down into two main components: identifying your customers and identifying the job they are trying to get done.

Step 1: Identify Your Customers

A common misconception in the product development world is that, in order to understand your customers -- and consequently, your market -- you need buyer personas. However, it’s not the persona, or the characteristics of your buyers, that makes them buy your product. They buy your product because they need to get a job done and your product is the one that gets that job done more efficiently than the competition. The job is the same regardless of the demographic groups your customers fall into.

Using the jobs-to-be-done framework, you can easily segment your market and define your customers’ needs by understanding the 3 types of customers:

  1. Job Beneficiary - This is the person who benefits from getting the job done. This is the person looking to “hire” your product or service to get their job done.
  2. Job Executor - The executor is the person or entity who will help the beneficiary get the job done.
  3. Purchase Decision Maker - This is the person who makes the final financial purchase decision.

In many markets, those 3 customers will often be the same person. In others, the beneficiary and purchaser will be the same but the executor will be different. Let’s look at a simple example.

In the case of someone who is looking to trade in their car, they would be considered the Job Beneficiary because they stand to benefit the most from getting their car traded-in. The Job Executor would be the car dealership -- the organization that executes the job of trading the car. The purchaser would also be the customer -- AKA the beneficiary -- as they are responsible for pulling the trigger on the sale of the old car and the purchase of a new one.

So what do you do once you’ve identified your customer? The next step is figuring out what type of job they’re trying to get done.

Step 2: Identify Your Customers’ Job-to-be-Done

Just as there are 3 types of customers, there are also 3 distinct jobs your customers are trying to get done. Knowing these 3 types of customer jobs-to-be-done can help with defining your market and identifying unmet customer needs.

  1. Functional - Functional jobs are the easiest to understand because they are simply the goal(s) your customer is trying to achieve. They can be measured for speed and accuracy. Innovation happenpoints of view customer struggles when the customer isn’t able to get their job done quickly or accurately enough and an opportunity in the market opens up.
  2. Emotional - An emotional job is the way your customer wants to feel, or the way they want to be perceived by others, while getting their job done. Understanding the emotional job makes the innovation process more personal by giving you insight into their struggle to get the job done.
  3. Consumption - The consumption job is what the customer has to physically do themselves to get the job done. This could mean installing new software, reading a repair manual, or performing routine machine maintenance.

In short, the functional job will define your market, while the emotional and consumption jobs will make for a better overall customer experience.

To learn more about the jobs-to-be-done framework, contact us today and try our free JTBD online course.

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

How to Size a Market Using JTBD

Welcome to the next lesson in our online JTBD course. You will learn how to size a market using jobs-to-be-done innovation methods. In this video, we will explain how to avoid lethal market sizing mistakes and how to determine market size using customer willingness-to-pay data.

We hope you will share and like the video on YouTube.


Welcome to the Market Sizing lesson in the thrv Jobs-to-be-done Innovation Course. I am Jay Haynes, the Founder & CEO of thrv.

In business, the market always wins. So, if you are on a product, marketing or sales team, it is critically important that you size your market correctly. Your potential revenue and profit growth are a direct function of your market size. In this lesson, we will show you how to size a market using jobs to be done innovation methods.

Avoiding Lethal Market Mistakes

As we saw in the previous lessons, Blackberry, Britannica and Kodak all lost billions of dollars because they defined their markets incorrectly. This lead directly to their failure. This was also an enormous lost opportunity for growth because Apple, Google and Facebook created trillions of dollars in equity value in the exact same markets.

So how do you size your markets to avoid lethal market mistakes?

Traditional market definitions are flawed because they all use a product as a key variable. Jobs Theory shows that that your target customer’s are not buying your product, they are hiring your product to get a job done. So your customers job is your true market -- your target market.

In 2006, Microsoft thought there was a huge iPod market. And this made sense using the traditional market sizing equation of product price times the number of buyers. Apple had sold 200 million iPods at an average price of $150, making this a $30 billion market using the traditional equation. This is a HUGE market even for Microsoft. With all their resources and their gigantic customer base, Microsoft launched the Zune. And it was a TOTAL failure!

Their market sizing was the fatal flaw because there is no such thing as the “iPod market.” This supposed $30 billion market is now approximately ZERO! Product-based market sizing always leads to failure because all products change over time, but your customers job-to-be-done is a stable target to hit.

How to Size a Market

To size your market, first define your critical customer as the job beneficiary. In a previous lesson, we saw how critical this is.

Then, identify your customer’s functional job, as we did in the previous lesson. Together, your job beneficiary and their functional job define your market. To size your market, you want to know what your critical customer, the job beneficiary, is willing to pay to get their job done. need curve calculating market size

With this data, you can then plot the results on what we call a Need Curve. This looks like a traditional economics demand curve of price and quantity, but we are plotting the customer’s willingness to pay and the number of customers, the job beneficiaries, in the market. The area under the Need Curve is your market size. The Need Curve enables you to identify the size of your low-cost customer segments and the size of your premium customer segments. As a result, the need curve helps you identify hidden market opportunities for greater potential sales, higher total revenue and accelerated growth.

You can use a quantitative survey as part of your market research to get willingness to pay data in consumer, business, and medical markets.  Let’s look at an example in a consumer market.

Willingness to Pay Data in Consumer Markets

As we saw before, if we were competing with Apple and Google Maps for market share and we wanted to size this market using the traditional definition, the navigation app market would be an entirely unattractive market because the leading products are free. But we know the true market in this example is not navigation apps. It is the job of getting to a destination on time.

In this example, when we surveyed customers we asked them, "At what price per month would you be willing to pay to get to your destinations on time?"

In the survey, you can ask a series of market sizing questions to calculate a range of your customer’s willingness to pay. Plot your survey data on a chart to identify the the Need Curve and calculate your market size. conducting market research with customer survey

In this market example, even with free competitors, including Apple and Google, there is a $2 billion premium customer segment that is willing to pay a premium price for a solution that helps them get the job done better.

Why do high-growth customer segments and market opportunities like this exist even when the leading products and services are free?

Because there are unmet customer needs in your market.

In the next lesson, you will learn how to identify your customer’s needs in their job. Identifying your customer’s needs is a critical step to satisfying unmet needs better than competitors in your market.

Contact us today to get our free how-to guides and try our jobs-to-be-done software for free.


Posted by Jay Haynes in markets, market sizing , 0 comments

How to Define Your Market

Welcome to the next lesson in our online JTBD course. You will learn how to define your market using jobs-to-be-done innovation methods. In this video, we will explain what a market is, types of customer jobs and how these jobs work together in consumer, business and medical markets.

We hope you will share and like the video on YouTube.

Define Your Market Transcript

Welcome to the Markets lesson in the thrv Jobs-to-be-done Innovation Course. I am Jay Haynes, the Founder & CEO of thrv.

In business, the market always wins, so correctly defining your market is critical to your success.

In this lesson we will look at how to define your market using jobs-to-be-done innovation methods. If you are on a product, marketing or sales team, your success depends on satisfying customer needs better than competitors in your market. This bring us to the critical question for this lesson.

What Is a Market?

What market are you actually in? Traditional market definitions are fatally flawed because they all use a product as a key variable. For example, the traditional Addressable Market is traditionally defined as all the units sold in a product category times the price per unit, and the Serviceable Market is the units of a product type times the price per unit.

All of these definitions are flawed because all products change over time. If you define your market using a product - for example, the iPod Market - you are trying to hit a moving target. Product defined markets lead directly to failure.

As we saw in an earlier lesson, BlackBerry thought there was a market for keyboard devices and they lost $50 billion in equity value. Britannica thought there was a market for encyclopedias and they lost almost 100% of their sales in just 6 years. Kodak thought there was a market for film and went from $30 billion to bankruptcy. Companies fail when they define their markets based on their products. Product-focus ironically leads your team directly to failure. And today, technology enables products to change at a rapidly accelerating rate. This is why companies fail. Forty percent of the Fortune 500 will no longer exist in just 10 years because their products will be obsolete.

Jobs Theory shows that your customers are not buying your product. They are HIRING your product to get a job done. This means that your customers will fire your product when a new product helps them get their job done faster and more accurately. This is why Apple, Google and Facebook became three of the most valuable companies in history in the exact same markets as Blackberry, Britannica and Kodak.

Customers Just Want To Get Their Job Done

The core idea of defining your market based on your customer’s job-to-be-done dates back to 1960s and Professor Theodore Levitt. His famous Harvard Business article examined why industries repeatedly failed to identify new growth opportunities and competitive threats when products changed. He was famous for saying, “Customers don’t want a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole.”

In other words, your customers don’t want your products, they want to get their job done. This concept is true in any market, including yours. For example, consumers don’t want records, CDs or iPods. I am old enough that I even owned 8-track tapes in the 1970s. how to define your market

In this market, we all fired our old products, not because we wanted to get rid of our record collections but because the job is to create a mood with music. We all switched to new products that get this job done faster and more accurately. This happens in every market because your customer’s job is your true market.

In 2006 Microsoft made the fatal mistake of thinking there was a huge iPod market. With all their enormous resources they created an iPod competitor called the Zune, which they launched right when the iPod was becoming obsolete and it sales were falling off a cliff.

Don’t make this same mistake!

Products change but your customer’s job-to-be-done is a stable target for your team to hit. This is an important concept to remember. Your market opportunity might be bigger than you think, if you define your market using your customer’s job. We will look at market sizing in the next lesson.

We have seen how you can define your market using your customer’s job with examples in consumer markets. But the idea that your customer’s are not buying your product, they are hiring your product to get a job done, is true in business markets as well.

For example, CIOs don’t want block chain or WEP, which are product technologies. They want to obtain insights from data, which is a job-to-be-done. Similarly, Salespeople don’t want CRM software, they want to acquire customers. This is their job to be done. It is their goal, independent of the products they use.

And Jobs Theory works in medical markets as well. As we saw in an earlier lesson, patients don’t want syringes, they want to obtain a blood sample to diagnose their health. This is a medical job-to-be-done. Because products always change, very soon, you will likely never have to have another needle painfully inserted into your arm to obtain a blood sample. Similarly, surgeons don’t want stents or angioplasty balloons, which are medical products They want to restore artery blood flood. This is another job-to-be-done.

You should redefine your market using your customer’s job.

Let’s look at how you can identify and define your customer’s job-to-be-done - in other words, your market. How do you even know what your customer’s job even is?

3 Types of Customer Jobs

It is important for your team to identify the three different types of customer jobs in your market.

The first type of job is the customer’s functional job. This is the main goal customers are trying to achieve independent of any products or solutions they might be using today.

The second type of jobs are emotional jobs. Customers are, of course, real people with real human emotions. Emotional jobs are personal: how customers want to feel about themselves. And social. Social jobs are how customers want to be perceived by others.

And your customer’s have consumption jobs. Consumption jobs relate to using a solution to get a functional job done. Consumption jobs include interfacing with a product, learning to use a product, purchasing it, maintaining it and repairing it.

define your market

All three types of jobs are important to analyze because helping your customer get these jobs done better than your competitors is what creates the best customer experience with your product.

Let’s look at some examples of how these jobs work together in consumer, business and medical markets.

Consumer Markets

In a consumer market, new parents need to get a baby to sleep through the night. This is a functional job. As new parents try to get a baby to sleep through the night, they feel emotions, including feeling anxious about being a good parent. Avoiding anxiety is an emotional job. And parents need to purchase solutions to get a baby to sleep through the night like swaddle blankets, bedding, and nighttime diapers.

Your goal as a product, marketing, and sales team is to satisfy unmet needs in all three types of your customer’s jobs. We will explain unmet needs in much more detail in another lesson.

Let’s look at a few more examples of function, emotion, and consumption. As we saw in a previous lesson, the JTBD in this market is to get to a destination on time. This is the functional job that defines the market. As people execute this job, they want to avoid feeling anxious about being perceived as unprofessional by being late to a meeting.

A consumption job in this market is to interface with a product while traveling. If your customer cannot easily interface with your product, they won’t be able to get their functional job done.

Business Markets

Business markets have functional, emotional and consumption jobs as well. As we saw before, salespeople need to acquire new customers. This is the functional job, the goal salespeople need to achieve. Salespeople have emotional jobs, including being perceived as valuable to their team. And they have consumption jobs including maintaining current prospect information.

Medical Markets

The function-emotion-consumption pattern works in medical markets as well. As we saw, patients need to obtain a blood sample. This is a functional job in a medical market.

Patients want to reduce their anxiety about the procedure, which is an emotional job.

And patients may have to learn-to-use a new medical device like a micro needle array. This is a consumption job related to using a product.

All three job types are important to analyze because they determine your customer’s experience with your product. But defining your customer’s functional job correctly is critical because your customer’s functional job is your market.

Let’s look at how you can identify and define your customer’s functional job.

Defining Your Customer's Functional Job

Defining your customer’s job at the right level of abstraction is critical to ensuring that the theory is useful. Companies often struggle to define what their customer’s job even is. A functional job has three elements:

First, it is a goal that your customer is trying to achieve. Remember, a job and your market is not your job, it is your customer’s job. It is your customer’s goal and the problem they need you to solve.

Second, a functional job has an action verb and an object.

And third, a job cannot contain any mention of a solution, a product, a service or a technology.

Let’s look at a consumer example.

Consumer Jobs-To-Be-Done

A consumer might say, “I need to play MP3s.” Is this a job? Is it therefore a market?

Let’s use our three criteria to find out. 

First, is this a goal? Yes, this is something consumers want to do.

Second, does it have an action verb? Yes it does - “play.”

And does the action verb have an object? Yes it does - “MP3s.” So is this a job? Is it a market?

This is not a functional job because it contains a solution: MP3s. MP3s are a product format, which makes this an unstable definition of a market. And since formats, like all technologies and products, change over time, “play MP3s” is not a good definition of a market. As we saw before, the job is to create a mood with music. This is a stable definition because people have been creating a mood with music forever.

Business Jobs-To-Be-Done

Let’s look at another example in a business market. Businesses use software to run their companies, and they need to “install software.” Is this a JTBD? Is this a market? Let’s use our tests.

Businesses do install enterprise software, so it is a goal.

It also has an action verb and an object.

However, note that “install” is a consumption job. If you could achieve a goal without installing software, would you? Of course. Not long ago, installing business software used to be a large business for service firms, but today, cloud and SaaS applications are eliminating the need to install on-premise enterprise software.

Over time, new products emerge to eliminate or reduce the need to execute consumption jobs in order to use the product. This make sense because your customers don’t buy your product to interface with it or to learn to use it or install it. They buy your product to get their functional job done. As a result, the consumption job is not your market.

In this example, what about the word “software”? Software is an object, and it is a solution, but it is also a big enough platform that it is stable, like an aircraft. We will discuss platforms in more detail in later lessons.

Medical Jobs-To-Be-Done

Finally, Let’s look at an example of a medical job-to-be-done.

In a medical market, a patient, doctor, or nurse might say they need to “Monitor blood pressure.” Is this a job, is it a market? Again, Let’s use our tests.

Is it a customer goal? Yes, patients need to monitor their blood pressure.

It also has an action verb and an object.

And it has no solution.

But why do patients want to monitor their blood pressure? Is their end goal just to monitor?

It is important to analyze the level of abstraction of any job statement. Monitoring is an example of a step in achieving a higher-level goal. While there may be an opportunity in the short-term to provide a better product that does a better job of monitoring blood pressure, monitoring is not the end goal for a patient. define market

A patient, of course, monitors their blood pressure in order to optimize their health. If you have a health condition, blood pressure can be a key input. But the goal, therefore the job, and thus the market, is to optimize health. With higher level jobs like "optimize health", you can be more specific about your market definition.

For example, a patient who has diabetes needs to optimize their health with diabetes, so this is a specific job and therefore a market based on a health condition.

Different health conditions represent different markets because they are specific goals that different patients need to achieve, independent of any products, services, drugs or therapies they may use.

Level of Abstraction

You can specify level of abstraction for many types of jobs.

For example, parents need to instill a behavior in a child. But like health conditions, there are many types of behaviors, each of which defines a specific market.

For example, parents need to instill behaviors in their children to prevent anger, to learn music, or to resolve a dispute.

When defining your customers functional job, use these three tests, and use action verbs like these to help you identify your customer’s goals. You can refer back to this list when working with your team to define your market based on your customer’s job.

How to Identify JTBD

When identifying your customer’s job, you should conduct customer interviews, and analyze research to identify your customer’s goals independent of any solutions. Apply the three rules for jobs to ensure you have a well-defined market.

Defining your market using your customer’s job is just the beginning, but it has profound implications for everything your product, marketing, and sales teams do for your company.

We hope you will share and like this video you YouTube.

In the next lesson, you will learn how to size your market using your customer's job. This is critically important, since your revenue and profits are a function of the size of your market.

Visit us at to get our free how-to guides and try our jobs-to-be-done software for free.


Posted by Jay Haynes in markets , 0 comments

How to Identify Your Critical Customer

Welcome to the next lesson in our online JTBD course. You will learn how to identify the critical customer in your market. In this video, we will show you how Nest succeeded by targeting a different customer in the thermostat market than the incumbents.

Identifying the critical customer in your market is the key to avoiding customer mistakes that have ruined once great companies. 

And we hope you will share and like the video on YouTube.



Define Your Customers Transcript

I am Jay Haynes, the Founder & CEO of thrv. In this lesson, we will show you how to use jobs-to-be-done innovation methods to define and identify the critical customer to serve in your market. 

In this lesson, you will learn why traditional customer definitions are flawed, and how these flaws in your customer definitions and personas can result in your competition stealing your customers and your market share.

The key to your company’s success is building, marketing, and selling products that satisfy customer needs better than competitors in your market. This brings us to the key question for this lesson. 

Who Is Your Customer?

To describe customers, companies often create personas or fictional characters who represent a user or customer type. Customer personas are often based on characteristics, including demographics like age, gender, and income, geographics like region or zip code, and psychographic, behavioral or situational characteristics.what's wrong with Personas in JTBD?

For example, in a consumer market, you might create two different personas. Paul is younger, urban with a master’s degree. Kate is older, rural and has a high school education. In business-to-business markets, you might create customer personas based on industry verticals, like medium-sized consumer packaged goods companies, or East Coast financial services companies. 

While personas can be useful in certain contexts, the problem with personas is that characteristics do not cause people to buy products. Customers buy new products because they struggle to get a job done at a price they are willing to pay, regardless of their persona or their characteristics.

Let’s look at an example with Apple and Google Maps. Who are the customers to target in this market? 

In this market, the underlying customer’s Job-to-be-done is to get to a destination on time. This is the reason people use Apple and Google Maps. We will define customer jobs in much more detail in the next lesson. But in short, your customers job-to-be-done is a goal they are trying to achieve, independent of your product or your solution. 

So who are the customers to target in this market? Who struggles to get to a destination on time?

If we created two personas using traditional characteristics, these two personas would NEVER be in the same customer segment because they have VERY different characteristics. But could they both struggle to get to a destination on time in the same way? 

The answer, of course, is yes. 

In this case, they both struggle to get to destinations on time because they both make frequent and unfamiliar stops. In other words, these two very different customer personas actually have the same unmet customer needs in this market. We will explore unmet needs in much more detail in later lessons. 

Is There a Better Way to Identify My Customer?

Since traditional personas based on characteristics can be limiting, we need a better way to answer the question, "Who is your customer?" The traditional dictionary definition of a customer is one that purchases a commodity or service. At first, this seems to make sense, since getting someone to purchase your product is how you generate revenue. But defining your customer as a purchaser is limiting because Jobs Theory shows that your customers are actually not BUYING your product, they are HIRING your product to get a job done. Let’s look at a medical market example to explain this in more detail. 

Obtaining a blood sample is a medical job-to-be-done. Patients visit a trained phlebotomist who draws their blood with a syringe to obtain a blood sample. This market exists because patients need a blood sample to diagnosis their health. Patients are the ones who benefit from an accurate diagnosis from a blood sample. So patients are the Job Beneficiary and a Phlebotomist is the Job Executor who executes the job for the patient. 

The critical customer in any market is the job beneficiary. This is the person who benefits from successful execution of the job, regardless of their influence on the purchase decision. This is an important concept to remember. Markets exist because of job beneficiaries, not job executors or product purchasers. In this market, the insurance company is the dictionary definition of a customer who pays.

They are the purchaser of the procedure to obtain a blood sample, but they are not the reason the market exists. Patients are. If a new innovation helps patients obtain a blood sample faster and more accurately, the insurance company is more likely to purchase it. This is exactly what is happening in this market.

A company called SeventhSense has created a device that enables a patient to painlessly obtain their own blood sample at the touch of a button. This happens in every market because markets evolve to remove job executors as customers. This is an important concept to remember. If you are targeting job executors in your market, you are at risk that your competition will launch an innovation that gets the job done for the beneficiary without the executor. 

Identifying Customers in the Consumer Market

Let’s look at another example in a consumer market. In the market for thermostats, thermostat makers sold to professional contractors, who installed the thermostats in people’s homes. Thermostats sold for $30 to $60. Again, Jobs Theory shows that your customers are actually not BUYING your product, they are HIRING your product to get a job done.

And this is true for thermostats. Homeowners are hiring thermostats to achieve comfort in their home.This is the homeowners job-to-be-done. So the homeowner is the true customer in this market because they are the one who benefits from successfully achieving comfort in their home. They are the job beneficiary, the critical customer in the market. Contractors are the Job Executor. They help execute the job (in this case by installing a thermostat) on behalf of the job beneficiaries. Companies targeting executors as their customers are at risk because new solutions will evolve to get the job done for the beneficiary.

And this is exactly what happened in the thermostat market. A new company called Nest launched a thermostat targeted directly at the job beneficiary, the homeowner, rather than the contractor. Nest was priced at $249 against the competition's $30 pricing. Nest included a screw driver to eliminate the need for a homeowner to call a contractor.JTBD Nest Example

The incumbent Thermostat makers initially dismissed Nest’s strategy and pricing. But nest grew fast and took market share from the industry leaders. They were acquired by Google for $3.2 billion dollars. Why did Nest succeed? 

Because the job beneficiary, the homeowner, had unmet needs in the job of achieving comfort that they were willing to pay to satisfy. In a later lesson, we will show you how to to use quantitative surveys to identify unmet customer needs, underserved segments, your customers’ willingness to pay, and the true size of your market opportunity.

Identifying Customers in the Business Market

Let’s look at one final example in a business market. Companies need to enable secure data use for their employees, for example to access email and company data. This is a business-to-business job-to-be-done. One solution for companies is to install on-premise software like email servers and ERP and CRM systems.

IT Managers would manage these complex systems to execute the job of enabling secure data use for employees. But cloud SaaS software emerged to enable employees to securely use data on their own, without the need for IT managers. This is another example of markets evolving to remove job executors as customers. These examples show that the key customer in your market is the job beneficiary.

And remember your customer is a real person with real goals they need to achieve in their personal and professional lives. In other words, your customer has jobs they need to get done. To identify your customer, the job beneficiary, first identify the type of customer you are targeting if you are targeting consumers, you can define the job beneficiary by stages of life. For example, are they parents or retirees? 

If they are parents do they have toddlers or teenagers? You can identify consumer job beneficiaries by activity as well. For example, are they travelers, homeowners, or car buyers. It is important to define your customer as a job beneficiary because the job they need to get done is the market you are in. We will show you how to define your market using your customer’s job in the next lesson. 

if you are targeting business customers you can identify job beneficiaries by the functions they perform at the company. For example, are your business customers in finance, product, engineering or human resources. And you can identify business job beneficiaries by industry.

For example, aviation, telecom, or financial services. You can identify your customer by a cross-industry function, like VP of Operations and you can get specific to an industry, for example, Maintenance Directors in the aviation industry are responsible for ensuring the airworthiness of an aircraft.

In medical markets you can identify job beneficiaries, the patients, by health condition like diabetes, cardiovascular disease or cancer. And you can identify additional beneficiaries and executors by function like, surgeon, radiologist or administrator. 

In markets where the purchaser is not the job beneficiary, you should define and identify the purchaser, like an insurance company in medical markets. It is critical to understand the job beneficiaries in your market and to know how many there are in your target geography. Their willingness to pay to get the job done is your market opportunity.

In later lessons, we will show you how to calculate the most important numbers: how much revenue and profit growth can you generate in your market by targeting your critical customer, the job beneficiary.

We hope you will share and like this video!

In the next lesson, we will answer the question, "What is a market?", and show you how to define your customer’s job-to-be-done to help you avoid lethal market mistakes that have ruined once-great companies. 


Posted by Jay Haynes , 0 comments

How to Beat Apple and Google

how to beat apple and google

We are excited to launch our #JTBD YouTube channel today to help your product team use Jobs-to-be-Done innovation methods. Our first 15-minute video covers all the basics of JTBD and shows how you can use JTBD to beat your competitors.

Imagine you are on a product, marketing or sales team and your mission is to beat Apple and Google. How would you do it?

Using JTBD to Reveal Competitor Weaknesses

A good way to test if product management or innovation methods will work for your company is to apply it to your competitors. Does it help you reveal competitive weaknesses? Does it help you identify unmet customer needs? Does it help you generate and prioritize the best product ideas for your product roadmap?

In this short video, you will learn how to use JTBD to beat even the most feared competitors, like Apple and Google. We use Apple and Google Maps as our example competitors because they are two of the most successful competitors in history and they seem impossible to beat.

However, JTBD methods can reveal weaknesses in even the most successful competitors. Jobs theory shows that your customer is not buying your product, they are using your product to get a job done. They make new purchases because they struggle to get their job done. 

We will show you how to identify unmet customer needs using your customer's job, how to measure competitor weaknesses, and how to generate product feature ideas that will create more customer value and help you win in your market. JTBD will help you and your team gain agreement faster on the best product ideas for your roadmap and come up with the best marketing messages.

Listen to Our 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. 

To learn more about JTBD methods, why your customers are struggling to get their job done, or how to beat your competitors, contact us at thrv today.



Posted by Jay Haynes , 0 comments

How to Save WeWork


Photo by Hieu Vu Minh on Unsplash


As recently as three months ago, WeWork was a high-flying startup headed for an IPO with a $47 billion market cap. Since then, they have suspended IPO plans indefinitely, sold their private jet, fired their CEO, laid off thousands of employees, and suffered a valuation drop of 80%.

According to SoftBank, the majority shareholder, WeWork is now worth $4.9 billion. By some estimates, the paper worth of their property and equipment ($6.7B) is greater than the valuation. With Adam Neumann’s corporate malfeasance dominating the headlines, it’s easy to overlook the fundamental reason for their downfall: WeWork and its investors miscalculated the size of their market. All the cost cutting in the world won’t earn WeWork’s shareholders a return on their investment. The only way to save WeWork (and SoftBank’s shirt) is to find a new market big enough to warrant such an enormous valuation.

WeWork Miscalculated Its Market Size

Even before WeWork published its S1, Wall St analysts were asking how WeWork was different from any other commercial real estate landlord. IWG/Regus, for example, had more space, more revenue, and, wait for it, profit. Yet, IWG currently has a market cap of $3.56 billion. So what made WeWork different?

WeWork's S-1 devotes a lot of space to explaining the company's high valuation. To summarize there were 3 key points: 1. Technology; 2. Employers are willing to spend a lot on office space and there are a lot of employees; 3. WeWork wasn’t just about commercial real estate it was about building a community. This means they can enter new markets such as their nascent forays into housing and education.

Here are the problems with those justifications for WeWork trading at exorbitantly higher multiples that IWG. Let’s start with the technology statement.

Technology is not a market. Nobody wakes up in the morning thinking “gee, I need more technology.” As Theodore Levitt famously said, “Nobody wants a quarter inch drill; they want a quarter inch hole.” The same is true for technology. Nobody wants the tech itself, they want to get something done and tech helps them do it faster. As a result, technology cannot increase how much the world is willing to pay for a place to work. Technology can help provide a better customer experience and decrease the cost of delivering that great experience for people who need a place to work. But all that does is enable WeWork to potentially capture a larger share of the same market. It doesn’t increase the market itself. This is how Wall St viewed WeWork’s coworking spaces. They asked ‘in what way is the market bigger than what we’ve seen from IWG?’

This brings us to point number two, how WeWork calculates its market size using product price * number of buyers. In the S-1, WeWork estimates there are 255 million people with desk jobs in their 280 target cities. They then cite a data point from CBRE and Cushman Wakefield that employers spend a weighted average of $11,700 per employee for occupancy costs. 255 million * 11,700=approximately $3 trillion. There is a huge problem with this formula. The willingness to pay for office space exists on a curve, with a small number of companies willing to pay a lot and a large number of companies willing to pay a lot less. Taking an average number rather than the area under the curve, inflates the market value tremendously. To use their data to calculate a much more accurate market size, we'd have to see the distribution of spend/employee.

In any case, Wall St evidently didn't go along with this and continually compares WeWork's underlying metrics and Market Size to IWG.

If you can’t justify the valuation in co-working or office space, then you have to expand the mission. In this way, it makes sense that WeWork tried to characterize itself as a "community" company and enter other markets: residential housing and education. Unfortunately, they failed to demonstrate ways of delivering in those markets that were significantly better than what customers get today. If the solution is not better than the competition, people will not switch and growth will not happen.

A Historical Aside

From early 2011 to late 2013, I worked at Patch, AOL’s hyperlocal news network, now owned by Hale Global, a private equity fund. I was the Director of Consumer Product during a proxy battle that saw activist investor Starboard Value try to gain sufficient AOL board seats to shut Patch down. AOL won the battle but lost the war, selling Patch to Hale Global. Coincidentally, Artie Minson, current Co-CEO of WeWork, was the CFO of AOL at the time.

Much ink has been spilled on AOL’s large investment in Patch. Here’s my take: the size of AOL’s investment in Patch led shareholders to demand growth that was incongruent with the size of the only market in which Patch was successful: local news. On the inside, we didn’t discuss the problem in these terms, but we reacted to it as such. Our internal traffic and revenue growth goals were ambitious and had to be in order to justify the investment to the board and The Street.

When our local news traffic and ad revenue fell short of the goals, we looked for other areas of expansion: photo sharing, blogs, social networking groups, classifieds, crowd funding...a Patch Credit Card was even in development. We didn't get enough traction in any of these areas and Wall Street didn’t buy the story. Patch was sold to Hale Global.

Since Hale acquired Patch they have re-focused on news and ads, and have reported profits. With a lower investment and a lower valuation, Patch’s expectations outside the eye of Wall St are right-sized for the market in which it performs well. I don’t know the financials of Patch’s sale to Hale Global. It has been widely reported that AOL invested $120 million/year in Patch at its peak, and the terms of the sale were not disclosed. Your guess is as good as mine.

When the investment and the valuation of a business are in conflict with the size of its market, people lose money.

WeWork Has to Enter a Large Market With a Solution That Satisfies Unmet Needs

To think about how WeWork can find a large enough market, it’s worth taking a moment to consider: what is a market?

The most common way to hear analysts define markets is by the product people are buying. This leads to terms like “the office space market,” “the cloud services market,” “the phone market,” “the mp3 player market,” “the encyclopedia market,” or “the film market.”

“Wait a minute,” you may be thinking to yourself, “nobody buys MP3 players, encyclopedias, or film anymore. Why did you use those examples? Those markets don’t exist!”

And that is precisely the problem with thinking about markets in terms of products. Some day a new technology will lead to a new product that causes no one to buy the old products. Products and technologies change every day, which causes product markets to disappear.

History is littered with examples of once great companies that focused on improving positions in markets defined by products and then failed. Kodak failed in the film market. Britannica failed in the encyclopedia market. With the Zune, Microsoft failed in the MP3 player market. While those companies were investing in improving their products, other companies created entirely new products based on new technologies that caused nobody to need film, encyclopedias, or MP3 players.

It’s hard to blame Kodak, Britannica, and Microsoft for these mistakes. If you plug products that don’t exist and don’t have buyers yet into a traditional market sizing formula, product price * number of buyers, you get a zero dollar market. So then you try to guess how many people will buy the product and the whole enterprise starts to feel very risky. It seems much safer to invest in the existing products whose market size you know for sure, right?

Wrong. All product-based markets will eventually go to zero as the old products are replaced by the new. As Jobs Theory states, “Nobody is buying your product, they are hiring it to get a job done. When a new product can get the job done better, they will fire the old product.”

We can use this insight to create a more stable definition of a market and a more accurate market sizing formula. Instead of defining the market as a product, we can define it as a job-to-be-done. If we stipulate that the job is a goal customers want to achieve independent of any solution, we now have markets that stand the test of time. Furthermore, if you want to position yourself better in a job-based market, you need to be the one who will find the new product to get the job done better rather than clinging to your old product.

Using the Jobs definition of a market, instead of the “mp3 player market,” we have the “create a mood with music market.” Instead of the “film market,” we have the “share memories” market. Instead of the encyclopedia market, we have the “find information market.”

To size the market, we can use customers’ willingness to pay to get the job done rather than the price of the product. This enables us to size markets regardless of the new product and helps us see opportunities to create value. Imagine how scary it would be to invest in a new product (the iPhone) that would kill your cash cow (the iPod) using the traditional market sizing formula. But, if you looked at how much people were willing to pay to “create a mood with music on the go,” “talk to their friends and family on the go,” and “use the internet on the go” much better than they could do before, investing in the iPhone wouldn’t have been scary at all. Those markets together represented an enormous opportunity. And considering the willingness to pay to get the job one helps you understand why Apple was able to charge $500 for the iPhone when Steve Ballmer preferred Microsoft’s $99 mobile phone strategy in comparison.

So if a market is a job-to-be-done and the size of the market is the customer’s willingness to pay to get the job done, what job should WeWork look at?

Here is the criteria:

  1. The willingness to pay (the market size) has to support a valuation greater than $47 billion for SoftBank to make a return on its investment
  2. WeWork has to have a believable path to satisfying needs in the job better than the competition.

Let’s take a quick look at the two “markets” WeWork already tried to expand into: housing and education. The core jobs here would be “secure a place to live” and “learn something new.” The willingness to pay likely varies significantly across segment, but it’s pretty safe to say these are very large markets. However, the projects underwent heavy criticism. Most likely few people believed WeWork’s solutions for these jobs satisfied unmet needs and would enable WeWork to grow in these markets.

While thinking about this problem, I came across a lengthy NYTimes aritcle from Feb 2018 called The Rise of the WeWorking Class. In part, it tells the story of Mabel Luna, a WeWork customer:

“She hung up her shingle as a private C.P.A. Though she never advertised, she quickly outgrew herself; she told me that 90 percent of her customers have come through WeWork, either via hallway run-ins or through the social-networking features of its mobile app. She had several clients in the building — including a brewer of natural alcoholic kombucha, a sole-proprietor attorney and the German sunglasses manufacturer by the printer.”

Mabel used WeWork to acquire customers and grow her business. The acquire customers market is enormous. It’s the advertising industry and the CRM industry. Google and Facebook have grown to multi-hundred billion dollar market caps in this market.

Here’s how WeWork can figure out if it can realistically take share in this market and generate sufficient equity value:

  1. Identify the key customer to target: Is it a solopreneur like Mabel, small businesses, large businesses, all of the above?
  2. Identify the market: What is the job they will target? Is it acquire customers? Grow sales? The trick here is to avoid splitting hairs and articulate the goal in the language of the customer.
  3. Identify the market size: What is the willingness to pay to get this job done?
  4. Identify the unmet needs: In what ways are customers struggling to acquire customers? In other words, what are the key problems WeWork can solve?
  5. Identify the customer value: How will WeWork productize what it has done for Mabel to help customers satisfy their acquire customers needs better than any other solution they could use?

Answering these questions will lead WeWork to define a de-risked product strategy. Jobs-to-be-Done customer research can answer all of these questions *before* building the product. It is much cheaper to execute the customer research to de-risk the opportunity than it is to build a failure.

Posted by Jared Ranere in market size, wework, markets, valuation, patch, starboard , 0 comments

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