Light up Your Marketing Efforts by
Focussing on the Jobs to be Done

Harvard marketing professor Ted Levitt famously said that “people don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter inch hole.”

In Clayton M. Christensen’s Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice, he expands on this idea, aptly naming it the theory of “Jobs to Be Done.” Jobs Theory allows us to look at a particular need through the lens of a customer, focusing on outcomes rather than products, jobs done versus units sold.

Below are four key takeaways on how to stay focused on the job that your customers hired you for.

I. Understand the Job

“At its heart, Jobs Theory explains why customers pull certain products and services into their lives: they do this to resolve highly important, unsatisfied jobs that arise.”

Jobs Theory allows us to abandon any preconceived notions of what a customer might be. Customers come in as many shapes and sizes as there are problems waiting to be solved. The key to attracting (and understanding) your customers is discovering the exact purpose (or job) they hired you to complete.

For example, an instagram follower may hire you because they’re looking for something to occupy their time on a long metro ride to work or because they want to keep up to date on local events. Maybe they’re looking for ideas on how to decorate their home or perhaps they’re looking for fashion inspiration to help build their fall wardrobe.

Once you understand the job your fulfilling (keep in mind there may be multiple) you’re better positioned to effectively reach, engage and retain your customers.

II. Identify Your Competition

“Once you understand the customer’s Job to be Done, it brings into sharp relief the true competition you face to be hired.”

Looking at the competitive landscape through a Jobs Done lens allows you to see a more complete picture of who else your customers might hire.

If an instagram follower is hiring you to keep up to date on local events, you’re not just competing with other instagram accounts; you’re competing with the newspaper, a magazine’s online event calendar, your neighbor telling you about the neighborhood farmers market, a band poster tacked up at a local coffee shop, the TV news anchor and your favorite DJ.

When we understand exactly who our customer might hire instead of us, we can focus on making the experience we’re selling the preferable choice for the job at hand.

III. Keep Your Eye on the Job

“Despite the best intentions and a century of marketing wisdom, companies start to act as if their business is defined by the products and services they sell (“quarter-inch drills”) instead of the jobs that they solve (“quarter-inch holes”)”

It’s easy to lose focus of what exactly you’re selling. We take pride in the products we create and like to focus on them as the be-all and end-all of a customer’s choice.

However, we need to remember that a customer did not hire us because they want our product, but instead because we’re offering a solution to their problem. In order for a customer to hire us again and again, it’s necessary to always keep in focus the original job we set out to fulfill, listen to our customers and innovate only in ways that improve their experience.

IV. Measure What Matters

Data is an incredible tool for a marketer. At KMG we’re focused on not only providing quantitative results, but continuing to provide passive data on customer behavior that illuminates how successfully we’re fulfilling the job at hand.

“Seemingly objective data about customer behavior is often misleading, as it focuses exclusively on the Big Hire (when the customer actually buys a product) and neglects the Little Hire (when the customer actually uses it).”

To fully understand how a customer engages with your product, we need to track more than the initial hiring moment (data that fits neatly into a spreadsheet) but also keep engaged with how and when our customer uses it.