Using Jobs to be Done (JTBD) research to optimise your marketing messaging

Adelynne Chao

In business, what we’re all trying to do (all of us) is sell products that customers want to buy. Better yet, to sell products that customers love to buy. Jobs to be Done is the most effective ‘lens’ we’ve found which provides a clear, predictable route to getting there. So far, it has been more frequently applied to innovation and bringing new products to market. But it’s equally powerful as a tool for marketers.  

What is the premise of Jobs To Be Done? 

The core premise of Jobs To Be Done is completely logical, even common sense. It says: customers don’t want products, they want to achieve an outcome in their lives. They only use products to help them make progress towards these outcomes. In fact, they ‘hire’ products that serve them today, but can easily ‘fire’ them when something comes along that better serves their needs. 

Take this Job as an example: I want to send messages to my friends. People didn’t want letters. They didn’t want telegrams. They didn’t want emails, or MSN messenger, or Facebook or WhatsApp. These are just the tools that people use to help them: send messages to my friends. By focusing on the customer Job you realise what you’re designing is a solution for sending messages to friends, not just an email or WhatsApp alternative. Directing your thinking in this way can be powerful and lead to outstanding and unique customer experiences.  

How does it apply to marketing?

Marketing is about how we communicate the reasons customers should buy our product. It’s showing customers what the product does and how it benefits them. By understanding a customer’s job to be done, we can optimise our key messaging around that job. In effect, this reduces the amount of effort on the customer’s part to: understand what this product will do for me. 

Jobs To Be Done helps us take a customer-led approach to marketing which focuses on translating product benefits into solutions for customer jobs. The result: messaging that hits at the heart of what I (as a customer) am trying to do. Messaging that resonates with my struggles and shows me a better way. Messaging that directly addresses my worries and concerns and shows how they can be easily overcome.  

Jobs to be Done helps marketers create customer journeys that convert. 

Jobs thinking is behind the success of DTC (direct to consumer) brands

In recent years, the emergence of disruptor DTC brands has hit almost every sector from beauty to fashion to mattresses. Think: Glossier, Harry’s, Casper, Everlane, Reformation. Seemingly arising out of nowhere, these companies have taken a shortcut to growing a successful following. They’ve thrown the ‘purchase funnel’ out of the window - the one that tells us to focus on building brand awareness and consideration. They’re competing with some of the most established and well-known, long-standing brands of our time. How? By focusing both product and marketing on serving specific customer jobs for a specific customer target audience (and serving them extremely well). 

Gone are the days where customers believed they needed to make an effort to navigate the market. To clue up on all the technical jargon so they could buy the best lawn mower. Browsing in department stores for hours to identify that perfect lipstick. Sure, there are always going to be some customers who will make that extra effort but the rest of us tend to rely on recommendations from friends (so we don’t have to make the effort ourselves). The difference with these DTC brands is that they’re making the effort on your behalf - it’s the no effort decision. I don’t need to compare products and read tons of reviews, when I’ve found something which seems to be designed especially for me and is exactly what I’m looking for. 

Jobs To Be Done research is more essential than brand tracking 

We’ve heard from countless clients who are struggling with their brand trackers. They’re spending hundreds of thousands but find that the data they receive -

  1. is hard to make sense of
  2. rarely shows any changes
  3. causes data overload
  4. is under utilised and
  5. doesn’t even reflect business performance

This is because brand trackers are designed for an old world - they reflect the way things used to be and how people used to make buying decisions. They assume that brand is everything, but the emergence of challengers shows how quickly a ‘brand’ can be established in the eyes of customers. 

Jobs thinking is the way forward for businesses that want to adapt to the way things are now (and are going to be) and the way people make buying decisions today (not how they did decades ago). Successful businesses are increasingly going to provide customers with a personalised experience, utilising digital technology to create bespoke customer journeys, and providing products that solve customers jobs better than the competition. Products that customers love.   

For more information about our process or Jobs To Be Done, get in touch at

Untold is a growth consultancy specialising in customer-led growth strategies. 

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Untold is a marketing & growth consultancy specialising in customer-led growth strategies.

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