Key takeaways

Sometimes a Job to be Done is described as functional, a task or activity. Does that thinking help you or limit your creativity?

  • Focus on why customers want your product (the emotional motivation). This helps you understand and describe their JTBD.

  • Focusing on what the product does or what customers do with it can distract you.

  • Knowing your customers’ JTBD helps you create advertising that speaks directly to your customer’s struggle for progress.

  • What did the founder of Clarity.fm learn about his customer’s Job to be Done?

  • You can’t create a breakthrough innovation by studying how customers solve their problems today.

  • How does Charles Revson (founder of Revlon) describes his customers’ JTBD?

Episode Transcript

Following is a lightly edited transcript of this episode of Jobs to be Done in 5.

Eric White: The first time you and I talked about JTBD, you urged me to get away from thinking about functionality when describing a Job to be Done.

I didn’t get your point at first but over time I noticed with my clients that when we started talking about functional jobs our conversation veered towards describing the product and what it does rather than why customers were buying and using it.

You’ve remained adamant that Jobs shouldn’t describe tasks or activities, why is that?

Alan Klement: Tasks and activities just describe solutions for Jobs. They don’t describe the Job itself. We want to focus on why customers use a product, not how they use it.

Eric: Can you offer an example?

Alan: One example is the Clarity case study from my book.

If you were to describe Clarity as an activity, then it would just be a “talk to an expert” service. That describes what Clarity does and how people it.

However, that description don’t tell you why people use Clarity. It doesn’t tell you what customers are struggling with and that picture in their mind how their life will improve when they use a product like Clarity. And that picture in their mind is the progress customers are hoping to make.

Eric: What progress are customers trying to make when they use Clarity?

Alan: When I interviewed Dan Martell about Clarity — Dan is the founder of of Clarity — he told me what Job customers were hiring Clarity for. He described how his customers would start off in an innovation or entrepreneurial slump. And these customers figured that if they could get advice from someone whom they respected, then they could get out of the slump.

Eric: He said that his customers didn’t want to have some random person tell them ‘go get 10 sales tomorrow’. They wanted Mark Cuban to tell them ‘go get 10 sales tomorrow’. So, the JTBD was something like… help me get through an entrepreneurial slump, with inspirational advice from someone I respect.

Alan: I would say so.

Eric: Potential customers had a lot of ways they could get advice from someone they respected. They could try to connect with that person on LinkedIN or go to a conference where they were speaking.

Dan also found anxieties that held people back from using Clarity to get their Job Done. Entrepreneurs were looking for help to get out of a slump, but what if that person was a jerk or couldn’t answer their questions? What should they do to prepare? They wondered if the call would be recorded so they could take notes later.

Once Dan’s team understood these anxieties, the solved they problem by setting expectations about the call with both the entrepreneur and expert. After the call was booked, they sent prep questions and guidelines so everyone would know what a great call looks like.

Have you seen examples of companies using jobs insight to market and innovate?

Alan: One of my favorite quotes, which is also a great quote about a JTBD, comes from Charles Revson — who founded Revlon. He said, “in the factories we make cosmetics; in the drug stores we sell hope”. And for the last 100 years or so, that insight has directed Revlon’s marketing and innovation efforts.

Revlon’s Fire and Ice campaign. The ads were accompanied with a questionnaire meant to intrigue customers. There’s no mention of how the product works or it’s functionality.

Revlon’s Fire and Ice campaign. The ads were accompanied with a questionnaire meant to intrigue customers. There’s no mention of how the product works or it’s functionality.

Revlon’s Fire and Ice campaign. The ads were accompanied with a questionnaire meant to intrigue customers. There’s no mention of how the product works or it’s functionality.

“In the factory we make cosmetics; in the drugstore we sell hope.”
— Charles Revson, founder of Revlon

For example, one of Revlon’s most successful marketing campaign was called Fire and Ice. The goal of that campaign was to communicate that with Revlon’s products, any woman could be just as glamorous as any famous actress. That’s an example of the “hope” Revlon is selling.

When it comes to innovation, if all you’re doing is focusing on functionality, tasks, and activities, then the most you can do is improve existing solutions. And if you want to do that, that’s perfectly fine.

But if you want breakthrough innovations, then you have to break away from that type of thinking. In fact, breakthrough innovations are often about eliminating or inventing new functionality, tasks and activities, not when you design for existing ones.