How to Use Jobs-to-be-Done to Accelerate Product-Led Growth

Alan Klement

Founder of Revealed

Alan Klement

Founder of Revealed

Last Updated
September 27, 2023
Estimated Reading Time
7 minutes

Table of Contents

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What causes someone to adopt or abandon a product?

That’s what the ‘jobs-to-be-done’ theory aims to explain and predict. It embodies the general principles that cause people to either hire or fire a product. This is something that every business wants and needs to better understand.

After all, if you know what causes users to adopt a product or abandon it, you will be in a much better position to plan and strategize to improve your adoption rate.

What are jobs-to-be-done?

Strategyn, the pioneer of the Jobs-to-be-Done Theory, defines jobs-to-be-done (JTBD) as follows:

Jobs-to-be-Done Theory is a theory of innovation that is based on the economic principle that people buy products and services to get “jobs” done, i.e., to help them accomplish tasks, achieve goals and objectives, resolve and avoid problems, and to make progress in their lives.

The theory is built on the foundation that the most successful companies make the user’s job-to-be-done the unit of analysis. This allows you to create products and/or services that help users get their jobs done in a more efficient, effective, and/or affordable manner. 

In simple terms, people buy products or services to get a job done. 

How Jobs-to-be-Done Can Improve SaaS Product Adoption

The jobs-to-be-done theory helps you to develop a model whereby you can create a successful product, boost adoption rates, and increase growth for your product and business.

If this sounds like something you’d like to apply to your own business and see tangible results with it, here’s how you can do it!

Two Processes That Can Lead to Product Adoption

Two processes happen that can cause someone to adopt a product:

1. Demand Synthesis: This is how needs are created. For example, last week you were fine and this week, you need a new car. Needs for new products or services are created for all kinds of reasons.

2. Hiring Process: This refers to how users choose a product for the job-to-be-done.

The hiring process is very important and if you want to get serious about product-led growth, you must understand how determined a user is to continue using your product or solution. Are they committed to the product? Or, are they just shopping around?

To help you figure this out, you can start by identifying how the user assesses your product. Can they trust that your product will deliver results based on what it’s promising? Do they understand your product and know how to use it?

You need to design your product with these types of considerations in mind. But, you must do so while having a good understanding of the job-to-be-done and then delivering that value to the user as soon as possible.

Users will always assess how trustworthy a product is. They will look at it from a visual standpoint too. Is it easy to navigate? Or, is the product too confusing and difficult?

This is the type of thing you need to consider with your packaging, positioning, and overall offer.

How to Figure out Your Product’s Job-to-be-Done

When people adopt a new product, it’s usually because they have a job-to-be-done, which is another way of saying that they have a problem and they believe that your product will provide them with the solution to that problem.

The best way to get the answer to this question is to ask your existing users. A few months ago, they were fine without your product. Then, something happened to disturb that contentment, which then led them to adopt the product in search of a solution.

Talking to users about this is the best way to get the information you need. It will help to identify what unmet goals drove them to the product, what constraints blocked them from experiencing or achieving their goals, and what the catalyst was that increased their need for the product.

With the jobs-to-be-done theory, you can get better at predicting when people will have a job-to-be-done, which will then lead them to your product. It will also help you to get clear on your target customer and users are more likely to adopt your product and commit to using it, rather than those who will abandon it.

Understanding the Needs of Your Users

Successful product-led growth is about understanding your users’ needs. Needs can usually be filtered into three different categories:

Functional

This is the process that the user is trying to accomplish in a specific situation. It’s why a market exists. For example, “repairing a leaking roof” or “safeguarding against global cyber threats.” Your goal is to create a product that helps a user do the job better, cheaper, and faster.

Emotional

How does the user want to feel when executing the job? How do they want to be perceived? Answering these questions helps you understand the emotional needs of the user. 

Social

The social aspect takes into consideration both functional and emotional components, as these are used to make a strong connection with the user. This helps when creating a value proposition to attract, engage, and retain your audience. 

The main reason why anyone wants to discern the needs of their users is to create growth. To understand the needs of your users, you must start with the needs you’re trying to solve with your product.

You’ve also got to understand what a need actually is. At its core, a need is a discrepancy. Your user has a goal and it only becomes a need because they don’t have that goal right now. The discrepancy between where you are right now and where you want to be creates the need.

Your job is to provide a product that can take them from where they are to where they want to be. In other words, your product must help them to fulfill their need by helping them to achieve their goal.

How Can You Describe a Job-to-be-Done?

The problem with describing a job-to-be-done accurately, (at least for some businesses), is that it’s not something you can physically see. You can’t ‘see’ people’s needs, which makes it impossible to be objective about what it is. How can you prove that there is a job-to-be-done without seeing it?

That’s why the best way you can describe a job-to-be-done is with the product itself. It’s showing the product that people adopt for the specific job-to-be-done. This makes it a lot easier to prove that people use your product because they have a job-to-be-done and since you can see that people are adopting the product, the job is real. You’ve got the proof!

What Can the ‘jobs-to-be-done’ Process Achieve?

The best result the jobs-to-be-done theory and process can achieve is product-led growth. You want people to get excited about your product. You want them to adopt your product. And, you want them to commit to your product.

So, you need to make sure that your product can help people get closer to and/or achieve their goals. To do this, you need to help people figure out what their jobs-to-be-done are, and how/why your product can help them complete those jobs.

A good way to approach this is by coming up with product concepts. Engage users in the process and hear what they have to say about the product. What do they like about it? What don’t they like about it? What excites them? Can they visualize themselves using the product?

Help people visualize the concept of the product as it relates to the jobs-to-be-done. Show them what their new, better life can look like once they have adopted your product and used it to fulfill the jobs-to-be-done.

What Does the jobs-to-be-done Process Look Like?

When putting the jobs-to-be-done theory into action, this is referred to as ‘Simulated Shopping.’

Step 1: Storyboard

A large part of the process consists of storyboarding for potential users. Once you have identified your ideal customer profile, approach those potential customers and provide them with a storyboard of your product. Ask them how things are right now and concentrate on their pain points.

Step 2: Present

The next step is to present different scenarios or potential outcomes that can come from using your product. See which of them gets the user the most excited and ask them to pick the one they identify with the most.

Step 3: Display 

Once you’ve confirmed that, provide your product as a potential solution or a job-to-be-done. Then, talk about prices and how much they would spend to see the type of results from the product.

These three steps give you a lot of valuable information to help you learn more about your customers, experiment with your product, and use that data to create the best possible product that people can’t wait to adopt.

FAQs about Jobs-to-be-Done for SaaS

Moving past the basics requires you to answer key questions as they pertain to your company, product, and target market. Here are three frequently asked questions about jobs-to-be-done for SaaS.

What’s better for B2B SaaS, buyer personas or JTBD?

There are times when both theories can benefit your business. Compare the finer details, including the pros and cons, to determine which approach is right for your product and the intended path forward. 

What are the pros and cons of JTBD?

The primary benefit of JTBD is the ability to focus on the functional, emotional, and social jobs required by your customer base, without the fear of outside information bogging you down. 

On the downside, there are potential issues regarding how to effectively apply the JTBD theory. This calls for a lot of research and trial and error. 

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