Marketing Canvas - Job To Be Done

In a nutshell

JTBD is a key concept that you should certainly consider. It is the reason why people hire products or services. There is a functional part and a social/life-changing/emotional part. If you are capable to serve JTBD who have a strong social/life-changing/emotional part, you might create and capture more value.


Job To Be Done is the first concept you should explore in the Marketing Canvas. It is under the Customer category. It helps you to understand if you really know the people that are buying/using or might buy/use your products and services. This concept comes from Innovation and Entrepreneurship theories but the first to discuss this concept was Theodore Levitt in this seminal article: "Marketing Myopia" where he said: "People don't want a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole" (HBR, 1960).

Marketing Canvas - Job To Be Done

What is Job To Be Done?

When you are working on  your commercial strategy, one of the most important element (if not the most important one) is to understand what people are trying to do, what problem(s) they have. It is the Jobs-to-be-done: it's the higher purpose for which customers buy products, services, and solutions.

The jobs-to-be-done framework is a tool for evaluating the circumstances that arise in customers’ lives. Customers rarely make buying decisions around what the “average” customer in their category may do—but they often buy things because they find themselves with a problem they would like to solve. With an understanding of the “job” for which customers find themselves “hiring” a product or service, companies can more accurately develop and market products well-tailored to what customers are already trying to do.

Products or Services enable customers to get a job done.  It is important to understand that a Job to Be Done is not an activity nor a task (listen to music is not a Job To Be Done) because they describe how you use a product or what you do with it.

Job To Be Done

Job To Be Done

A consumer goes along his life as he’s come to know it. Then things change. He is presented with an opportunity for self-betterment — that is, make changes so he can grow. When or if he finds a product that helps him realise that growth opportunity, he can evolve to that better version of himself he had imagined.

A Job To Be Done is the process a consumer goes through whenever she aims to transform her existing life-situation into a preferred one.
— JBTD - Alan Klement

Customer Jobs is about understanding our intrinsic desire to evolve. This motivation changes slowly. Therefore, Jobs change slowly.

Products, on the other hand, constantly change because technology enables better ways of creating solutions that solve our Jobs. This is why we focus on the JTBD and not the product itself or what the product does.


Tony Ulwick (who developed the concept of JTBD) defines 9 fundamental truths for the JTBD:

  1. People buy products and services to get a “job” done.

  2. Jobs are functional, with emotional and social components.

  3. A Job-to-be-Done is stable over time.

  4. A Job-to-be-Done is solution agnostic.

  5. Success comes from making the “job”, rather than the product or the customer, the unit of analysis.

  6. A deep understanding of the customer’s “job” makes marketing more effective and innovation far more predictable.

  7. People want products and services that will help them get a job done better and/or more cheaply

  8. People seek out products and services that enable them to get the entire job done on a single platform

  9. Customer need, when tied to the job-to-be-done, make innovation predictable

What does it mean?

You should not focus on the product or solution you are selling! When your customer is using a product or service, he has hired this product or service for doing a job. While he might be satisfied TODAY with this solution, any other future alternatives might provide a better solution to the job TOMORROW.

When you observe your (future) customer, you need to understand the problem he is trying to solve with the product (yours or an alternative) that he has hired (Why they do what they do).

The more important the job is for the customer (from a basic functional need to a search for self-transcendance like social impact), the more value you could potentially capture with your solution.  

When you start to understand the why, your mind is then open to think of creative and original ways to solve the problem.
— JTBD - Alan Klement


Marketing Canvas - Job To Be Done

Marketing Canvas - Job To Be Done

I suggest this framework for mapping the key elements of the JTBD. I separate the functional outcome and aspirations. Functional outcome is what the product or service will have to deliver (it is tangible and can be measured). Ambitions are critical components of some JTBD and are highly valuable for the person (job executioner). I would argue that a JTBD that has no aspiration is a commodity and only the price will play a role in the purchase decision (like sugar).

Let's think about selling drinkable water. Evian is promoting life changing aspirations (live young) as part of their answer to the job to be done of some people when drinking water. I don't drink water because I am thirsty, I drink water because I want to stay young (water is good for life)... and by the way it should also quench my thirst (functional outcome).

Questions you should ask yourself?

When working with the Marketing Canvas, you can ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I really know the Job To Be Done of my (future) customers?

  • How much the Job To Be Done of my (future) customers will help me to achieve my goal?

Clayton Christensen, professor at Harvard Business School talks about the job to be done.

Jobs aren’t just about function—they have powerful social and emotional dimensions.