Know Your Customers “Job to be Done”


November 15, 2016

by Carla Johnson

I was talking to the CMO of a $7 billion technology company this week about his secret to success. In just two short years, he’s been able to build a highly innovative, highly accountable team that delivers customer value.

And I don’t mean “value” as in people recognize the logo when they see it.

I’m talking about creating a continuity of experiences across customer touchpoints that measurably drive revenue. In the last two years, the company has grown revenues by $2 billion and increased employees by 15,000 to 110,000 globally.

When I asked the CMO about this, he said one thing they continually focus on is what’s the value they aspire to deliver to customers. And to understand that value meant understanding what was most important to customers. What could they do to make customers successful?

That took me to an article I read in the Harvard Business Review this month titled “Know Your Customers’ “Jobs to be Done.” In the article, the authors reference a McKinsey poll that says “84% of global executives report that innovation was extremely important to their growth strategies, but a staggering 94% were dissatisfied with their organizations’ initiatives.”

With so much focus on innovation, how can organizations be so horrible at it? The authors contend that it’s because disruption and innovation theories don’t tell you what customers want to buy.

Which, you have to admit, is pretty critical to driving revenue.

This is where the idea of customers and the jobs they want to get done comes into play. The article breaks this down into three steps:

  1. Understand the job to be done. In my opinion, the essence of jobs to be done goes back to Theodore Levitt’s 1960 article in the Harvard Business Review titled “Marketing Myopia.” To summarize, Levitt said that people don’t want to buy a ¼” drill. They want a ¼” hole. That sounds ridiculously simple, but it’s the nuance of flipping the focus that makes all the difference in the world. The same goes with focusing on the job to be done, rather than the demographics of people who buy products and services. For example, American Girl isn’t in the business of selling dolls. They’re focusing on how to help girls articulate their feelings and validate who they are. Granted, it’s the products or services that help customers get the job done. But to connect with customers, we have to tell our story from the perspective of what it helps them accomplish.
  2. Create the right experiences for customers. The next step is to create the right set of experiences that motivate someone to buy and use your product. For American Girl fans, it’s not just the doll. It’s the experiences that come from seeing hundreds of outfits that a doll can wear for all seasons and adventures. It’s the salon. It’s the parties. It’s conversations between daughters, mothers and grandmothers about amazing women who came before them that the dolls represent. The stories of values and traditions. It’s the experiences that serve as a way for these girls to understand who they are, develop a sense of self, and honor their cultural and racial backgrounds.
  3. Align organizational processes to deliver those experiences. The final piece is process. What processes do you need to develop to help customers get their job done? Processes tell people within a company what matters most. And focusing them on the jobs that need to be done provides clear focus for everyone in the company. When employees ask themselves, “Is this what I should be doing?” If they know that it will help customers get their job done, then the answer is yes. If it doesn’t, then they need to move onto something else that does.

How about you? Do you understand what your audience wants to get done? Do you know what experiences will motivate them to buy and use your product? Do you have processes in place that help them do all of that? If not, you need to quit focusing on customer profiles and data-driven correlations that don’t mean anything. Instead, you need to look at what jobs your customers want to get done, and then create the experiences and processes that help them do exactly that.

Read the full article here….

Are you interested in creating superb experiences that drive deeper relationships with your audience? Contact me and let’s talk about how we can help. Or, connect with me on LinkedIn, follow me on Twitter, and if you like what you see, Subscribe here for regular updates.

Photo credit: Flickr user Clement127

About Carla

Carla Johnson Innovation Creativity Speaker Author

Carla Johnson helps leaders who are often paralyzed by traditional thinking. They suffer from slow growth, an eroding competitive advantage, low employee engagement, and depleted investor confidence. Their teams lack purpose and progress and constantly battle a resistance to change and new ideas.

As the world’s leading innovation architect, Carla’s spent 20 years helping leaders shatter limits and discover undiscovered possibilities. Through years of research, she’s developed a simple, scalable 5-step process that teaches people how to consistently produce inspired ideas that lead to uncommon outcomes.