Yes. All too often, marketers define “needs” in terms of product requirements, like the need for a car driver to have a cupholder. A driver’s “jobs” can be much more expansive. For instance, he may have a broader job to eat while driving, and still a broader one to avoid wasting time. Seen through this lens, an automaker has many more avenues for innovation than simply perfecting a cupholder. To address the job of eating while driving, the company may create a thin but sturdy tray that folds out from the center dashboard to hold a sandwich, and a tab under the passenger’s side dash where the driver can attach a small plastic trash bag. To help the driver avoid the feeling of wasted time, the company could e-mail its customers a weekly set of “best of” podcasts chosen to meet their interests. Importantly, the competition for getting a job done often is not in a company’s traditional product class, but instead customer frustration and doing nothing, or an alternative from a completely different industry. Examining jobs to be done can vastly increase the number of levers a company might pull to create innovative offerings.
The jobs that customers are trying to get done stem from context and attitudes, as well as good old-fashioned marketing “needs.” They involve both functional and emotional elements. By understanding customers’ jobs to be done, companies can broaden the canvas for innovation, excelling along dimensions that don’t even occur to their competitors. Firms that embrace jobs to be done win through being different.
This post was written by Steve Wunker. Click for more information on New Markets' rigorous approach to researching jobs to be done.