Have you been building products to solve a problem or a particular pain point for a target market? Are you struggling to stay focused on the problems of your target customers?

By using the Jobs-To-Be-Done framework (JBTD) and staying focused on your customer’s needs, your business can build products that your target audience wants.

There has been so much conversation around the Jobs-To-Be-Done framework. I wanted to learn more about the framework from someone who has effectively implemented the philosophy into product management roles. That’s why we interviewed Alan Klement, Partner at Revealed and author of the book “When Coffee and Kale Compete”.

Alan is a person who understands the importance of building products that his target audience wants and he achieves this by staying focused on his customer’s needs as part of an effective Go-To-Market strategy (GTM).

 Across the space of five years, Alan Klement started building his own products and small businesses. Along the way, the serial entrepreneur experienced both success and failure with his initiatives.

In his own words, “The excitement for me was creating something new, putting it out onto the market and having people adopt it, or not”.

The trials and tribulations of Klement’s innovation lead him to a realization, “I needed a better way to think about how to create something new and bring it to the market”. This is what attracted him to the Jobs-To-Be-Done framework.

Are you ready to learn about what the Jobs-To-Be-Done framework is and how you can use it to create products that will attract more potential customers? Keep reading.

 

What is the Jobs-To-Be-Done framework?

People purchase products to get a “job” done. It’s like ticking a box. A successful product has the ability to solve and extinguish a problem faced by potential customers.

The jobs-to-be-done theory suggests that in order to understand a customer’s needs, companies must put considerable thought into the value proposition of their product. By focusing on the job-to-be-done, product managers and tech founders are able to identify all of the customer’s needs and determine which are unmet.

Subconsciously, when customers are executing a job, they have a set of metrics in their mind. These metrics, or desired outcomes, are used to define the successful execution of that job.

At the moment, there is plenty of buzz around the topic of the Jobs-To-Be-Done framework, with many people contributing to the theory.

I wanted to learn more about Klement’s perspective on the theory and how it can be useful to product managers and tech founders outlining their GTM strategy and trying to create growth.

“There’s often a lot of confusion and misunderstanding around [Jobs-To-Be-Done],” said Klement. “The theory was developed by people who were not professional theory-makers.”

Alan Klement uses the analogy of a bathtub to describe the concept of the Jobs-To-Be-Done framework (JTBD).

If you want to fill a bathtub, you have to add water to it. You also have to figure out how to prevent water from leaking out. Growth is about increasing the inflows and reducing the outflows.

When you’re only talking to existing customers, that won’t help you fill the bathtub. Alan created growth for the business he worked for by increasing the inflows (consumers adopting) and reducing the outflows (consumers abandoning).

 

What led Alan Klement towards using the Jobs-To-Be-Done framework?

Over a decade ago, Klement was in charge of a product called FDT. “I did what I thought I was supposed to do as a product manager, I talked to my customers,” he said.

Studying the needs of the target audience, Klement was planning ahead for the next major release, jumping from version three to four of the product.

After seven months of working, Klement’s team released the newly updated version of the product. “They loved it – it was a huge success,” he said. The FDT team received countless emails from customers, telling them how much they liked the product.

On appearance, the updated version of the new product had been a success. However, in a frustrating turn of events, the CEO had a conversation with Klement, who expressed disappointment at the lack of new sales.

As Klement shared with me, “We really hadn’t sold anything new”. The excitement generated around the latest release was from existing customers who were updating from version three to four.

Alan Klement began to realize that his approach to project management was not “in-line” with what the business expected of him. As Alan told us, “I realized I was there to create growth for the business”.

This is when Alan created an action plan and decided to completely overhaul his product launch and go-to-market strategy.

Klement’s bold new strategy was to ignore existing customers. “If there was a big issue, I’d talk to them about it, but for the most part I’d ignore them,” said Klement. 

Instead, Alan looked to people who were not upgrading. They may have purchased the third version of the product, but they didn’t upgrade to version four. Klement wanted to dig deeper and understand why this was happening.

Alongside this, he analyzed the customers of competitor products to gain a competitive advantage and understand their marketing strategy.

As Alan told us, “I only made changes that would attract more customers and would keep existing customers upgrading the product”.

Instead of just talking to existing customers, Alan looked to the potential customers to learn about buyer personas. This enabled him to build a roadmap for the product, bolstering the value proposition and increasing customer acquisition.

“This is how I think about growth happening”, Alan told us. “It’s about getting more consumers to adopt while reducing consumers abandoning”, he said. This situation is—according to Alan—the equation of Growth = Adoption > Churn.

 

 

What causes people to adopt and abandon products? This is the question that the JTBD framework tries to understand by analyzing the value proposition of a new product to gain a competitive advantage and increase customer acquisition. “How can we describe this phenomenon that is out there in the world?” said Alan.

Jobs-To-Be-Done Framework Example

Alan Klement likes to use the example of the Snickers candy bar to describe the Jobs-To-Be-Done framework.

If you look at the old advertisements of Snickers in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the brand had a marketing strategy that positioned the candy bar against Milky Way.

 

 

These candy bars both sat on the shelves next to each other, making them direct competitors. Rather than asking the existing customers about how the Snickers candy bar could be improved, a different approach was taken.

Snickers decided to investigate the behaviour of potential customers who were thinking about buying their candy bar for the first time.

At the same time, they also conducted research into Milky Way, investigating why some potential customers choose to purchase Milky Way candy bars.

What causes a potential customer to purchase a Snickers bar? When they were looking at the Snickers bar, what other products were they thinking about buying? These were just some of the questions that were asked in the research.

In the case of the Snickers bar, many customers also went on to buy products such as coffee, energy drinks, apples and burgers. Customers who purchased a Milky Way bar would go on to buy products such as wine and ice cream.

 

 

As Klement explained, “Just by looking at what consumers consider to be options, it tells you that there’s something very different going on here”.

When you look at Snickers and Milky Way, there are contrasting buyer personas. In other words, they are different types of people with unique interests.

“With Snickers, it was all about energy and revitalization. Whereas, when people were looking at Milky Way, looking at the context of what other options were available, [Milky Way] was a luxury food” he explains.

Initially, Snickers were concerned about their product. There were conversations about removing peanuts from the recipe, in a bid to make the candy bar more appealing.

Rather than making their product more like the MilkyWay or changing their pricing strategy, they created growth by adjusting their marketing efforts, putting an emphasis on revitalization and endurance.

 

What causes people to adopt and abandon products?

“We reduce it down to this idea of progress. People want to make a change and that’s what causes them to start buying a new product,” Alan explains.

So, how can you apply the theory of Jobs-To-Be-Done to your own product development? According to Alan Klement, it begins by asking yourself a few questions.

Going beyond yourself, he also recommends sending out a questionnaire to your product team, sales team and decision-makers in your company to see if everyone is aligned with your perspective and vision for the new product.

 

Because of us, what can our customers do that they couldn’t do before?

 

As Klement shared with us, “People adopt a product because they are trying to make some changes.” He suggests comparing a consumer’s life with and without your product, questioning the impact it has on them. 

Hopefully, with your product, there should be a change in the consumer’s life. “If you can’t really articulate that change, then you need to do some research and figure out what their jobs-to-be-done are,” said Alan. This change will ultimately become a  core component of your new market and sales strategy.

 

Who are we really competing with? Who are we trying to beat?

 

By understanding the goals and struggles of your potential customers, you will be able to craft a product with a high value proposition.

As we saw in Alan’s example, Snickers thought they were competing with the Milky Way. 

However, upon researching the buying characteristics and interests of those who purchase these candy bars, they discovered that a Snickers bar appeals to a very different type of customer.

Through learning this, they readjusted their marketing plan to focus more on energy and revitalization and less with competing against the Milky Way.

 

When a consumer switches to your product, what will they stop buying/using?

 

“It could be the case that maybe someone is entering the market for the first time, but that doesn’t happen nearly as much as consumers switching,” said Alan.

For example, with Snickers, their growth strategy is to persuade their target market not to buy other rival products of interest, such as a power bar, banana or apple – encouraging them to buy a Snickers candy bar instead.

In the closing moments of our conversation, Alan Klement talked about why this is a vital question to ask. “Growth comes from understanding adoption and churning…understand that and then figure out, when you develop your strategy, what can you do to ensure that they switch to you?”, he said.

Alan Klement is currently working on a new book that will dive into the Jobs-To-Be-Done framework in great depth.

Speaking about the book, Alan says, “Whereas the first book was maybe 275 pages, I think this next book will be a hundred pages or fewer. Not only that, I think the theory part is like 10/15 pages. We’ve really reduced it down to ‘here’s what it is’, ‘here’s what we’re trying to explain’.”

About the Author: Aggelos M

Aggelos M
I have over 8 years experience in Digital and Growth marketing. Currently, running Growth Sandwich, a London based Product Growth Lab. Before turning in Growth Marketing and Product Growth, I had the chance to pass by head marketing and head digital positions in Athens and London, work with numerous tech startups but also build and run companies. In my spare time, I am consulting ambitious startups about their Growth and Business strategy.