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Positioning Better – How Jobs to Be Done Can Help Inform Brand Positioning

Even though it’s been fifteen years since Clay Christensen published his original discussion about Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD), the approach is definitely having a moment in the spotlight. This framework has continued to gain momentum and recognition for its ability to help inform and inspire more predictable, profitable innovation, and it has other potentially underutilized applications.

The JTBD approach can do more than just help fuel innovation – it can also serve as an opportunity to inform strategic initiatives across the base business. Remember, Jobs are about understanding the outcome consumers are trying to achieve when they engage with a product or service and then identifying the desired experience and product criteria that will best satisfy it. And while this JTBD approach can often lead to an answer grounded in product innovation (i.e., opportunities to create new), it can also help us solve the problem through product positioning – where we uncover opportunities to better leverage existing products in our portfolio, if we message them in the right way. In this case, Jobs can quickly give us the understanding needed to “match up” customers’ desired goal with our product, emphasizing the features that matter most in that moment in their language.

And, we can take it a step further. At Egg, we emphasize the power of constraint as part of our jobs work. Constraints are resource limitations (skill, ability, time, mental availability, money, physical availability, etc.) that shape the set of solutions that customers choose from when they hire for the jobs in their lives. In identifying constraints, we focus on the process of solving for the job – the steps involved. We ask- where does constraint create the greatest tension, and/or need for workarounds today? Is there a specific group of customers that struggles most with this? In this way, constraint helps us understand the “for ______” (audience) and “who struggle to/aspire to _______” (tension) of a compelling positioning, so we can best answer for what we can deliver, and how.

For example, someone working in an office might be looking to fill a Job around “help me to sustain my energy” around mid-morning. With a meeting in 15 minutes, she’ll have constraints as to what’s available or convenient – so she might choose a snack like a protein bar. A yogurt maker looking to compete in this Job might better position their product to be chosen by highlighting how much protein their product has, speaking to the completeness of dairy protein and how it provides slower release of energy (versus an immediate spike and crash). This is just one example of how we don’t always need to change the product to compete – we just need to better position it by emphasizing the attributes it already possesses that also matter most to consumers in the moment.

Jobs-to-Be-Done is no swiss army knife – we want to be purposeful in its application as a tool and framework. But, it is a powerful go-to when looking to broaden perspective and identify new opportunities – not just for innovation, but also for product positioning and communications.

We love putting Jobs to work, so give us a call to learn more.