Why, What You Know Is Useless?



I want to start this article with a little anecdote. Recently I was talking to a customer for a case study, and I asked him why did you buy our product. He said “because you are making social media simple for me”.I was startled; I thought he might say something like your packages are affordable or the in house expertise is amazing but he summed it up in just one line. It got me thinking and I realised that though I know what my product does but I don’t know about it from my customers’ perspective. I believe, as a company and for a company understanding why customers are buying from them is very important. In the pursuit of concreting my understanding of customers’ I stumbled upon JTBD.


Now, What The Heck Is JTBD:

JTBD is an acronym that stands for “Jobs To Be Done”. It is a framework that helps companies understand what causes customers to buy their product. JTBD is based on the premise that people don’t buy product instead they hire products to accomplish certain tasks or to remedy certain problems that they face.

Harvard professor, Clay Christensen is one of the original creators of the JTBD framework. In the video, he talks about a fast food company that we was helping with to increase sales of their milkshake. Clay and his team tried all traditional methods such as making user personas, surveying customers- asking them questions about flavours, ingredients etc. Then they implemented all these findings with the expectation that it will increase the sales, but much to their shock sales remained the same. One fine day, one of Clay’s colleague suggested asking people why are they buying the milkshake or rather “why are they hiring a milkshake”. The answers varied from it helps me cure my boredom while driving, fills me up to is a clean alternative over options like bagel, donut etc.

So, the crux of the study is that if you understand what job your product does, making improvements to it becomes a lot easier. This is precisely the reason why understanding your product from customers’ point of view becomes so imperative.


How To Use JTBD:

It’s very simple- just interview your customers. Ask them why they decided to buy your product in first place, what were the circumstances, and what were the final trigger that pulled them towards your product. It is not just for current customers, you can also interview your ex customers to ask why they swayed away from your product. In JTBD, there are 4 key events, called forces of progression that helps companies get all the relevant information that they need about a customers’ buying habits.

1. The Push: When you are unhappy with a situation in your life, Push triggers thoughts like “I want a new cool solution or I want something new”.

Ex: How my current laptop is affecting my life.
My laptop is very heavy, causing me lot of back pain while carrying it. Also, its battery life is non existent, which means I have to recharge it all the time. Also, I don’t think it is as cool as the swanky new options available in the market right now.

2. The Pull: This is the sweeping force that invokes thoughts like“I got to try this”.

Ex: Apple just launched a new macbook pro, and now I am thinking how it will revolutionise my life. It’s battery life is 10 hours, it is so sleek and light that i can just carry it with my two fingers. Also, the design is very chic. I guess, I should buy it.

3. The Anxiety: That heavy feeling that makes you reconsider every good decision in your life.

Ex: Now that I am in awe of the new macbook, I am thinking of ways it can ruin my life. Personally, I find iTunes very confusing, and I will have to download and sync everything with it, which is annoying. Hell, I like changing wall papers everyday, and with the Macbook I won’t be able to customise much. Also, it is going to be cheaper in the coming few months. I guess, I should wait more. After all Apple always listens to my silent prayers.

4. Habit: A reckoning force that refrains you from challenging or swaying from the status quo.

Ex: Now I am thinking, after all my old laptop is not that bad. It is just a bit slow, heavy, uncool, but it works “just” fine. So, I think I should wait.

These 4 events are present in almost every significant purchase that we make. Once you uncover these four events, you will have your cause, and it will be easier for you to optimise your product according to your customers’ actuals needs.


If you are trying to gain and retain customers, JTBD is the way to go. JTBD is all the more important for small businesses as it will help them in understanding the customer, their requirements, and expectations in a much better way. At Solomofy we have used this technique and it has not only helped us in understanding customers better but also improved our relationship with them.

Let me know in the comments about your view of JTBD.