The Jobs to be Done (JTBD) framework, also known as Jobs Theory, is a method of analysis used to support innovation in product development and marketing.
JTBD has existed in various forms since at least the 1980s with Don Norman’s famous book, The Design of Everyday Things.
It was popularized in the 2000s by Clayton Christensen and his colleagues in Harvard Business Review (and again in the 2010s) and MIT Sloan Management Review.
JTBD is unique because it centers around the job – not the customer or user.
While used mostly for product innovation, it can apply equally well to SEO and content marketing.
We’ll examine how to use the JTBD framework for SEO content development.
Many examples are from the world of B2B SEO, but the theory should apply equally well to other spheres of web content marketing.
Getting Started With JTBD
Many forms of traditional research for marketing and advertising focus on demographic data, searching for the “average” customer of a product or service to find ways to be more appealing to and reach these people.
Rather than focusing on data points like age or gender, the Jobs to be Done framework focuses the marketer on the problems the target audience is trying to solve.
Regardless of a person’s age or gender, they have jobs to be done – and they search Google for help completing those jobs.
For product development and marketing products directly, the job to be done might be very much related to the product itself.
However, the use of the framework doesn’t need to be limited to jobs that the product can solve.
For SEO, it is perhaps best applied to the small tasks a prospect might be completing throughout their day.
When a prospect turns to Google to find information or complete a task during their normal workday (not necessarily when they’re researching products to purchase), the brands with helpful content build trust with their audience and the immediate opportunity to generate a conversion, according to Christensen Institute,
“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.”
Applying this type of thinking to create compelling website content produces tremendous results.
Finding Your Audience
Start by defining your target audience.
This isn’t just the people who would purchase the product or service your company offers.
Your target audience includes journalists, bloggers, podcasters – people creating content in the target market.
Consider the types of jobs your target audience might use Google to complete in a given day:
- Finding a conference to attend later in the year.
- Looking for statistics, trends, graphs, and images to use in an upcoming presentation.
- Finding answers to technical questions within their immediate field.
- Searching for examples of a plan or roadmap while creating their own.
- Looking for books, authors, and influencers in written form, or podcasts for inspiration, best practices, and industry news.
- Exploring tools to improve their daily processes.
When your target audience is using Google to solve their daily problems, you can be at the top of search results with the best answer on the web to help them.
After they arrive on your website, you can provide a wide range of related content to engage them and, in many cases, generate a conversion.
User Stories For JTBD
Instead of worrying about demographic data, a user story format can help figure out three basics:
- I want to.
- So I can.
Consider the situation, motivation, and desired outcome of the target audience, and develop user stories that can inform content creation.
Below are some examples of the user stories method in action.
Example 1: When I am on an interview panel, helping to hire for a role outside of my usual wheelhouse, I want to prepare by understanding the responsibilities that role typically entails, so I can provide informed feedback that will help the hiring manager make a good decision.
In this scenario, I might turn to Google to search for “interview questions” or “roles and responsibilities” related to a particular job title.
I would be conducting basic research to help me in my day-to-day tasks.
The website providing helpful information at the top of Google results will benefit from my visit, have the opportunity to offer me related content or a conversion, and will start to build credibility with me that can influence future buying decisions.
Example 2: When I am developing a business case to support a new initiative, I want to find research to guide my thinking, so I can craft a compelling argument to support my initiative.
In this scenario, I might turn to Google to search for data points, trends, and statistics to help guide my thinking and persuade others.
Example 3: When I am preparing for a flight, I want to find a podcast to listen to, so I can be educated and entertained about a topical area.
Example 4: When I am thinking about buying a popular book in my field of interest, I want to read a review first, so I can make an informed purchasing decision.
JTBD For Existing Customers
SEO isn’t just for marketing to prospects.
You can use the Jobs to be Done framework for figuring out what your existing customers are trying to accomplish – and create content that helps them do just that.
By looking at support chat logs, help desk tickets, community questions, and other places where existing customers indicate the jobs they’re attempting to accomplish, you can find a wealth of ideas about what to create new content about to help them.
- When you are conducting content planning for your website and ready to move past basic keyword research techniques, consider the JTBD framework.
- Start with the individuals you are creating content for – who is your audience?
- Brainstorm common small or large tasks that these individuals might deal with in their day-to-day work lives.
- Create helpful content ready when they inevitably turn to Google to complete those tasks.
Using the JTBD framework, marketers can identify many good topics and keywords with lower search volume and less competition than head terms but will generate higher quality visits.
A target audience is trying to accomplish an endless number of jobs, from small to large. By producing great content, a brand can develop a trusted relationship with prospects before they’re in buying mode.
This will translate to increased sales when the prospect is ready to make a transaction.
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