Jobs to be Done

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by Sarah Wisbey Freelance Writer, passionate about Growth and Learning by Doing

Table of Contents

What does Jobs to be Done mean? 

Jobs to be done or JTBD is a framework used in product and marketing. It’s a process used to understand what drives customer behavior.

Your product or service does a job that helps a customer make the transition from their current state to their desired state. Understanding the job they need to do with your product helps inform your marketing. 

Source: When Coffee and Kale Compete

Why is Jobs to be Done important? 

JTBD is a valuable concept because it forces entrepreneurs, product managers, and marketers to think about their customers’ underlying motivations.

Every action you try to make a customer take – whether it is submitting an email address, paying for a service, or using a product – is motivated by their innate desires. 

Understanding the motivations behind the actions can help you craft the right marketing message. Knowing the Job to be Done allows you to appeal directly to your customer’s emotional desires.

Highlighting your product’s relevant benefits (rather than features) can make it much easier to sell.

Where does the term Jobs to be Done originate? 

The theory goes back to the 1960s when marketing professors Chester Wasson and David McConaughy theorized that customers don’t necessarily want a product but want to satisfy an emotional, physical or social need. They said the value is in the use of the product and not the product’s attributes. 

In the 1980s, Peter Drucker coined the term Jobs to be Done. He said that innovation happens when you identify the difference between the goal some wants to achieve with a product and how that product delivers. He described this difference as the Job to be Done. 

Clayton Christensen and Michael Raynor published “The Innovator’s Solution” in 2003 and defined the term further. They emphasized that the jobs customers need to be done are a more important driving factor in their decisions than their personal characteristics. The book helped bring the theory into the mainstream.

Anthony Ulwick further developed the theory by breaking down the jobs into many steps,, which he called the customer value model. This concept further developed into a Job Map. You can use a Job Map framework to understand your customer’s desired outcomes. 

In his 2016 book “Jobs to be Done Theory to Practice,” Ulwick deep dives into how to use the JTBD framework when developing a product. 

Ulwick also developed the idea of Outcome-Driven Innovation (ODI). The theory suggests that to develop a product that people will buy, you need to understand how they measure success when getting the job done. 

What does Jobs to be Done help us identify?

People don’t order an Uber because they love sitting in Ubers. They do it because they want to feel like they’re using their time efficiently. They want to treat themselves to a more convenient, luxury mode of transport than a bus.

You don’t buy the newest Apple iPhone because you need a device to make calls; there are far cheaper options on the market for that. You buy the latest iPhone because you want to show others that you care about technology and have money to spend on it. 

It’s about what other people think and how the message you send to the crowd. On the opposite end of the spectrum, some people will use an old phone to show others that they’re different and not concerned with the latest tech. 

When you understand what jobs your customers need doing and the emotional and social dimensions of the job, you can build a better solution. This is why understanding the Job to be Done is so crucial.

How do we use Jobs to be Done?

To understand the job your customer needs done, you first need to assess the alternative solutions they have available. 

What options have they considered (and “fired”) previously, and which ones they are currently using (“hiring”) to get the job done?

Only if these current solutions are not creating sufficient progress in your clients’ lives will they be happy to look for something else. 

Get to know the pain points and frustration that the client experiences with their current solution. In JTBD, these are known as “struggling moments.” 

Knowing their pain points is crucial as that’s when you need to be present and offer your superior solution.mus

Nobody wakes up in the morning and thinks, “I need to change my payment solution today.” 

But if your brand can appear when your potential customer struggles with their existing solution, they will consider your product or service as an alternative. 

Key components of the Job to be Done

Each job has a functional, social and emotional dimension. This is the why that drives customer decisions. 

Source: Growth Mentor Johannes Radig 

Questions to ask when you’re analyzing the Job to be Done: 

  • Who?
    • Who does this job apply to? What do you know about this person? 
  • The functional job
    • What is it your customers are hiring for? 
  • The social job
    • How do your customers want to be perceived when hiring for this job? (Why would they tell others about the solution they are using – what is it supposed to tell others about them?)
  • The emotional job
    • How do customers want to FEEL when hiring for the job? 
  • What are the current alternative solutions? 
  • When is their struggling moment with this solution? 
  • What are the push and pull forces of leaving the old solution behind and adopting yours?
  • What concerns and worries might stop your customer from adopting your solution?

Key takeaways about Jobs to be Done  

People don’t care about your product or service, but they might like what it does for them. 

Originally published in 1960. Source 

There’s a mismatch between what you are selling and what the customer is buying. You need to understand what they are buying. 

When the Jobs to be Done your customers are hiring you for are well defined, all marketing tasks become much clearer. Creating content, ads, landing pages, and emails are all centered around the knowledge of the job.

Suggested mentors to help you make sense of Jobs to be Done

Aggelos Mouzakitis

SaaS Customer research, PLG and Pricing

B2B SaaS companies come to me with their problems. I do customer research, understand the deep causes behind the problems and I fix them.

Vassilena Valchanova

Digital Strategist & Trainer - Passionate about Content Marketing and CRO

I’ve spent more than a decade in digital marketing, with a primary focus in e-commerce and SaaS. My last role at a B2C SaaS startup with more than 500,000 registered users. Then I decided to go solo and work as an independent consultant on other exciting projects – and I always like to see new ones!

Harri Thomas


I love talking about Jobs To Be Done theory, product market fit, the challenges of creating great Co-Founder relationships and the relative merits of both boot strapping and raising venture capital.

Ryan Paul Gibson

Customer Researcher

I help B2B marketing teams run customer research interviews that don’t suck 🕵️‍♂️. We also uncover content, campaign and copy ideas so teams can spend marketing $$$ wisely; not wastefully.

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