"Jobs to be Done" and "Benefits to be Had": A Powerful Pairing

By Maru/Matchbox Archives
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"Jobs to be Done" theory provides a powerful lens through which to examine opportunities for innovation. It's great for product designers and innovators. But for marketers, a singular focus on jobs to be done results in lost opportunities to fully mine the feelings experienced when a job is done.

These feelings provide powerful clues for how marketers can optimally describe the benefits their offer delivers. We believe that work using jobs to be done (JTBD) theory should go hand in hand with an intense focus on "benefits to be had".

Jobs to be done is a theory, with attendant methodologies, that identifies opportunities for disruptive innovation by looking at what role or "job" a product plays for a user. Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen and co-authors say "Most companies segment their markets by customer demographics or product characteristics and differentiate their offerings by adding features and functions. But the consumer has a different view of the marketplace. He simply has a job to be done and is seeking to 'hire' the best product or service to do it." [1]

Christensen, who originated jobs to be done theory, devised the theory of disruptive innovation. Christensen talks about the link between disruption and JTBD in a recent interview.

"At its core, disruption is a theory about competitive response. If I have a new innovation I want to introduce into the marketplace, I want to predict if competitors in that market are going to ignore me or going to fight me. The theory of disruption helps you understand that quite well. But in many ways, it's not a manual for how to grow or how to predict what customers want. [Jobs to be done] is the second side of the same coin: How can I be sure that competitors won't kill me and how can I be sure customers will want to buy the product? So it's actually a very important compliment to disruption." [2]

But what generates preference?

The interviewer probes the limits of JTBD asking "How about really hard-to-define traits, like taste and style? Can a clothing designer at the high end apply jobs-to-be-done theory to color, for example? Or are there some things that are beyond the reach of the theory?" Christensen replies, "I think you're right. I cannot apply the concept of disruption to choices of preference. It doesn't have anything to say about preference."

Preference is, of course, crucial, especially in markets where there are a plethora of products that can do the job. If a brilliantly designed product is marketed poorly, it will not sell. If its benefits and value are not clearly communicated, it will never reach its potential as a solution for people's jobs to be done. We explored this topic in-depth in a recent whitepaper, 'The Future of Food: Are you Ready for the Millennials', where examples of this are abound in the Food and Beverage category as millennials are challenging manufactures to offer products that solve for a much wider variety of jobs than in the past, while at the same time seeking emotional benefits to help guide their preferences.

Creating a new product offer is only the beginning of a process that must ultimately include communicating the benefits of the offer. Marketing must happen. We need to be prepared for it.

Feelings that drive preference

It's true that customers "hire" a brand to perform a "job". But the job they're hiring for isn't simply a functional transaction. They're hiring for an emotional connection and an experience. That's where the opportunity comes to create conditions for preference.

When needs are fulfilled, people have emotional reactions. Our focus is on finding emotional connections the brand can own and claim in the form of a benefit. These benefits connect a user to an offer and allow a brand to go beyond functionality and create a lasting bond.

These bonds are powerful. "On a lifetime value basis, emotionally connected customers are more than twice as valuable as highly satisfied customers. These emotionally connected customers buy more of your products and services, visit you more often, exhibit less price sensitivity, pay more attention to your communications, follow your advice, and recommend you more" say Harvard Business Review authors Alan Zofra and Daniel Leemon.[3]

Emotions to be understood

It's the brand's ability to deliver on that emotional experience that causes it to be preferred over the competitors. We structure our research to accurately identify the experiential needs that consumers seek. Then we translate that understanding into recommendations for brands to both deliver the right functional jobs and maximum emotional benefit.

Maru/Matchbox offers a solution for exploring, identifying and validating emotional drivers that can enhance brand and product preference within the JTBD framework. Our focus is on leveraging the power of community-based learning to translate the emotional outcomes of jobs into benefits that can in turn drive and explain preference.

These investigations fit seamlessly within our innovation learning streams, which deliver iterative, ongoing learnings that are multi-modal, and technology enabled.

"Jobs to be Done" and "Benefits to be Had": a powerful pairing

Jobs to be done is a great innovation framework. Jobs to be done, combined with a focus on benefits to be had, is even more powerful. We'd love to talk to you about our approach.


[1]Finding the Right Job For Your Product, Clayton M. Christensen, Scott D. Anthony, Gerald Berstell and Denise Nitterhouse, MIT Sloan Management Review Spring 2007

[2]Innovation guru Clayton Christensen's new theory is meant to protect you from disruption, Oliver Staley, Oct 2016, QZ.com

[3] An Emotional Connection Matters More than Customer Satisfaction, Alan Zorfas, Daniel Leemon, Harvard Business Review,  August 29, 2016

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