You have been reading so many books about the business strategies? But could not find “the one” for your company? If you are seeking to find the best solution for your business, you’re lucky to reach the JTBD (Job-To-Be-Done) theory here. JTBD can put a period on your endless journey of browsing the random sound-good books. The principle of JTBD is completely different from any other business advice or strategies. Here, you will find what exactly the JTBD is, and how it can lead your business to success.

This article explains JTBD theory based on the book “When Coffee and Kale Compete.” If you want to learn more details after reading this article, you can read it online, or find e-book/ free PDF in the link below.

When Coffee and Kale Compete — Alan Klement

 

Why JTBD Is Effective

Have you heard of this proverb from ancient China?

Give a man fish and you feed him for a day.

Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

The reason why the books you’ve red actually didn’t work is that they only give you the fish. Because we all, in general, tend to be attracted by a simple and quick solution, those books mainly focus on what to do, and not the theory or logic behind it. However, each company has its unique characteristics and needs, so it is almost impossible for “one simple solution” to solve all companies’ issues. In JTBD, on the other hand, you will learn how to fish; the theory explains “why” and how it works. Understanding the JTBD concept will helps you apply the theory to a variety of real-world situations according as a problem comes up.

Creative Destruction Cycle

In JTBD, you will focus on customers’ motivation, and why customers want to purchase a certain product. Why is it important to pay attention to their motivation? It is because the customers’ motivation is relatively stable and even invariable sometimes, while the technologies and solutions are continuously changing. This phenomenon, in which the new/ innovative ones take over the incumbent one endlessly during the companies’ competitions, is called creative destruction.

As shown in this model, the popularity growth of a product always slows down and stops at some point; this is the time the new product replaces it. Therefore, it is essential for companies to predict what customers want next so that you can be the one to take over the market.

“Job” In JTBD

It is crucial to understand what the “job” to be done for your company. Job is the customers’ struggle to make changes for their better life. The job is done when you successfully offer the solution that can help people fulfill their ideal life. When a customer is looking for a product, they picture themselves in the improved situation by using it. The desire may or may not change over time, but the motivation behind it will not change right away. Therefore, JTBD focuses not on how, but on why. In other words, “job” should be defined by people’s motivation, not the activities or means of solving it.

So, What Exactly is JTBD Theory?

The main theory of JTBD is that “people buy and use a new product because they want to make themselves better in a particular way.” JTBD teaches you how to successfully predict what customers want next. Here are 5 major points that you should keep in mind in learning JTBD.

1. Improve systems instead of customers’ needs

In this competitive business world, the winners always think outside of the box. To make it easy to understand, I will show the example introduced in the book. Long time ago, when people were using letters as the main means of communication, they were not happy about how lengthy the delivery processes took. Some companies tried to come up with a new idea to deliver the letters more quickly and smoothly. It could actually improve the delivery process at some degree. However, the innovative one came up with the telephone service. The next moment, all the efforts people put in to make the delivery process better became nothing; because telephone fundamentally fulfilled people’s motivation to communicate more efficiently.

2. Product itself does not have any value

People buy products to make their life better. It is the realization of the better life that has value, and the product itself does not have any value for the customers. As often expressed in marketing strategy, “ Customers don’t want a quarter-inch drill bit, they want a quarter-inch hole.” You will be able to come up with the innovative ideas only by understanding this concept. The book introduces the quote from Charles Revson, the founder of Revlon. “In the factories, we make cosmetics; in the drug stores, we sell hope.” Revlon has been one of the successful cosmetic sellers because they knew what customers want was not to put the chemicals on their face; but to have a hope in their life by making their appearances better. In considering new business ideas, or how to improve your product, it is extremely important to know what customers really want to get through your product. It will guide you to the right direction when you try to make changes on your company or its products.

3. Data-driven operation is not always a good idea

The marketing team often spend the massive amount of time collecting the data. Those data can help you analyze the market needs objectively. However, remember that the data is helpful only if you use it in the proper way. Data does not describe everything about the market or the customers. It is just a small piece of the world showing some results of the system; the real world  consists of not only the visible factors but also a number of contexts surrounding them. For instance, customer satisfaction score, often known as CSAT, is a commonly used data based on customers’ self-reports. It is not necessarily true, however, that the products customers buy always have the high rate. Customers are not happy at all about the airline services, but they purchase the tickets because they kind of have to. Like this example, the single data cannot describe everything about the market. Always keep in mind that entirely data-driven marketing could prevent you from appreciating the customers’ voices.

4. Focus on human motivation, not the solutions

As mentioned a couple of times earlier, JTBD encourages you to pay attention to the customers’ motivation behind purchasing a product. To do so, simply ask yourself why questions.

Why do people buy the clothes? —Because they want to be fashionable.

Why do they want to be fashionable? —Because they want to make themselves look better.

Why do they want to look better? —Because they want to gain self-confidence.

Keep considering why people purchase a certain product until you find their motivation. Understanding the customers’ motivation will help you to come up with innovative ideas and to predict what they want to buy next. Like the example of the mailing service, the winners know what could be the alternative solutions that satisfies customers’ motivation.

5. Progress defines the value

Customers feel satisfied if they find the progresses during the use of product. They are seeking for the better life or improved situation when purchasing the product. Therefore, the customer satisfaction will boost if they can see the progresses not only at the very end, but occasionally while using the product. Sometimes these progresses could be more important for the customer than the outcomes of a product, or goals.

Those are very brief framework of the JTBD theory. The biggest feature of JTBD is that you will be able to apply it to a variety of situations; because JTBD is the logic-based theory, not just the solution advice. I highly recommend you to read the entire book, which you can download for free through the website.

When Coffee and Kale Compete