The Framework You Need To Design Remarkable Experiences

Jumping back in time several weeks ago I was sitting in a small open plan office based in Singapore. Post-Its covered many of the walls from top to bottom with snippets of ideas. Several wheeled whiteboards were scattered around the room with roughly drawn graphs and charts. Where whiteboards weren’t big enough windows were the next victim to the marker.

It was clear; I was either in a hub of innovation and creativity or on a special episode mash up between The Office and Hoarders.

It was there that I was introduced to the concept of Jobs-to-be-Done. A simple idea put into an interesting framework. As many marketers will know people don’t buy products. They have a problem they are trying to solve and the goal of any successful business is to prove to potential customers they have developed the best solution.


For those who haven’t yet heard about the Jobs-to-be-Done methodology, it essentially looks to uncover why a customer chooses to purchase a given product over any other. This has led to a series of interview techniques which are designed to dive into one specific situation where a customer had purchased one of your products. Rather than asking general questions, JTBD seeks to bring the person back into that situation so they can describe the emotions they were experiencing at that exact moment.

“With few exceptions, every job people need or want to do has a social, a functional, and an emotional dimension. If marketers understand each of these dimensions, then they can design a product that’s precisely targeted to the job. In other words, the job, not the customer, is the fundamental unit of analysis for a marketer who hopes to develop products that customers will buy.”

The essence of the framework is simple — that human beings, at our core, may only have anywhere between 200–300 jobs to be done. In those situations, we simply research and “hire” the best solution we can find at that time. Of course, those solutions can take many different forms.

It Starts With A Simple Question

We discussed this in further detail for several hours. During that time, one of the members of our group was selected as an example.

Sitting on the table beside Rob (his name wasn’t Rob but Rob’s a good a name as any) was a relatively new Paul Smith wallet. Now this wasn’t your standard brown leather bifold with just enough space for half your cards. This was a work of art. Beautiful high quality black leather covered the outside of the wallet and on the inside, the same leather was the bright green you’d see on a traffic light. It was also about twice the height of a standard wallet so it obviously wasn’t the convenience of keeping the wallet safely in Rob’s pocket that inspired this purchase.

Our JTBD guide for the day took notice of the wallet and asked Rob a simple question:

“Why did you choose to purchase that wallet?”

Rob had several answers for the question. It was the style. It was his respect and admiration for the Paul Smith brand. It could hold everything he needed. It was the right price for him.

Digging Deeper

Now we could all walk away at that point and say it was the product’s quality and brand power that took it from a store and into Rob’s hands that day but the Jobs-to-be-Done framework is designed to dig deeper. Further questions followed but we were no longer talking about a wallet but Paul Smith himself.

It turns out Rob had read stories of Paul Smith’s history. He saw Paul as a leader, someone who doesn’t follow the pack — his own man.

The quality of the product and the price were the functional solutions to Rob’s job. The only problem is that it doesn’t explain why he chose Paul Smith over any other wallet. In digging deeper we had uncovered something much stronger. The social and emotional reasons for Rob’s purchase.

Rob wanted to emulate the qualities he saw in Paul Smith, he wanted to stand out and make his own way. To be a leader.

By purchasing the wallet he was looking to show others that he too was a leader and his own man. That was the social element to his decision.

A Much Stronger Connection

Very few people can describe the emotional aspect of their decision to buy a product but using these details we can make some connections:

• Rob wants to be admired and even envied by his peers
• As a leader, he wants to display independence and confidence

So why is it important to uncover these three elements to a purchase decision?

By crafting a product position and marketing message that addresses the exact job a customer is trying to achieve you change the discussion. It’s the difference between the latest marketing from both Samsung and Apple devices.

Samsung Website 21/03/2016

Samsung’s new S7 uses the above image when describing its camera. Words like Dual Pixel 12MP, Bright Lens and Motion Panorama fill the screen. I’m no photographer but I know generally the more megapixels you have the better defined the photo. Apart from that, it’s a page covered in jargon. If you’re looking to get a phone with an awesome camera I’m not sure this really gets the message across. It’s a very functional conversation, like two engineers talking to each other.

Apple takes a very different approach.

Apple Website 21/03/2016

What Apple does is a much simpler conversation, it’s also a more powerful one. All they do is show you an amazing photo with a single message. Taken on an iPhone 6s. It doesn’t matter how many megapixels the camera has, it could be less, it could be more. The difference is instead of getting into an engineering competition for more megapixels, more features they just show you the proof. The message is clear. If you’re looking for a new phone with a great camera to capture your memories, the iPhone 6s will work for you.

The time for getting into a product feature arms race is over. It costs too much and it doesn’t win customers.

More Features Aren’t What We Need

Look at the trouble some of the biggest businesses are getting in by releasing features their core customers didn’t ask for or didn’t want — Twitter and Evernote.

Twitter users went into meltdown over weekend, using the hashtag #RIPTwitter to vent their fury at reports of changes to the way tweets will appear in users’ timelines. 
BuzzFeed reported on Friday that Twitter is planning to introduce an algorithmic timeline and show tweets it thinks users want to see. Currently Twitter presents the newest tweets first as they happen in real-time.
But this story was enough to send tweeters into a frenzy with many accusing it of turning into rival Facebook.
Evernote has laid off roughly 18% of its workforce in the past nine months, and said it will shut down three of its 10 global offices last week. Earlier this year it replaced its long-time CEO Phil Libin with former Google exec Chris O’Neill.

In one of his latest blog posts, Chris even goes as far as making this promise to the Evernote customers. “We will launch major foundational product improvements around the core features that you care about most, and we will pull back on initiatives that fail to support our mission”

Keep It Simple

The world is becoming a fragmented and noisy place. The companies that can focus on solving the job the customer is trying to achieve instead of simply getting caught up in the noise and competition are going to be the ones growing, launching the most successful products and importantly staying relevant.

JTBD frames the process nicely. A person has a job to complete and they will look for the solution that best meets their functional, social and emotional needs.

However, JTBD suggests that customers never truly purchase an item, they only hire the solution that best meets their needs at that time.

Given that logic, a company can only ever keep customers loyal as long as they continue to be the best solution for the customer’s job.

Have you seen the Jobs-to-be-Done framework before and used it within your organisation. What was your experience?

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