Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Magic of "Job-Focused" Content

When Theodore Levitt taught marketing at the Harvard Business School, he frequently reminded his students that "People don't want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole." The point Professor Levitt was making is that people don't usually buy a product or service because they want the product or service itself. What they really want is what the product or service will help them accomplish.

In The Innovator's Solution, Clayton Christensen built on Professor Levitt's idea to describe what is called the jobs-to-be-done framework. The basic idea of this framework is that when people become aware of a "job" they need to get done, they look for a product or service they can "hire" to perform the job.

Christensen argues that this is how customers "experience life." Their thought processes begin with an awareness that they need to get something done, and then they seek to hire something or someone to do the job as effectively, conveniently, and inexpensively as possible.

The attributes of the jobs that people are needing to get done constitute the circumstances in which they buy. Therefore, Christensen says, the jobs-to-be-done framework can enable company leaders to reliably predict what features and functionality will cause people to buy a product or service.

The jobs-to-be-done framework is often used to guide the process of developing new products and services, but it also has implications for marketing. What it tells us is that one key to effective marketing is to focus the majority of our marketing messages and content on the jobs our potential buyers need to get done. 

To create compelling "job-focused" messages and content, marketers need a thorough understanding of the jobs their potential buyers are trying to get done. Specifically, marketers need to know:
  • What the specific jobs are
  • Why the jobs are important
  • What happens if the jobs don't get done
  • How potential buyers are trying to perform the jobs - what tools and processes are they using
  • What is preventing prospects from getting the jobs done effectively and efficiently - what are the limitations and shortcomings of their existing tools and processes
Using content that is built around the jobs that your buyers are trying to get done provides several important benefits:

  • Content that can help buyers get an important job done is more likely to earn their attention and engagement because it provides meaningful value.
  • When you use the jobs-to-be-done framework to guide your content marketing program, content development efforts become more focused, and less time is wasted creating content that won't resonate with potential buyers.
  • Job-focused content typically has a longer shelf life. As long as the identified job exists, the content relating to that job will remain valuable and useful. While job-focused content does need to be reviewed and possibly updated on a regular basis, the longer shelf life can ease the content development burden.
  • In many cases, multiple members of the buying group will need to get the same job done. Therefore, job-focused content can often be used with several buyer personas. And such content can be easily customized for each relevant persona. Plus, by identifying the jobs that multiple buyers have in common, job-focused content can help the buying group reach consensus.
It's abundantly clear that content marketing success is becoming more difficult to achieve. Using content that buyers will instinctively see as meaningful and valuable will increase your odds of success, and the jobs-to-be-done framework can help you develop such content.

Illustration courtesy of Mufidah Kassallas via Flickr CC.

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