Jobs to be done in Marketing (JTBD) methodology

Do you know JTBD? In my experience, it’s not well-known amongst marketers.  Knowledge of it tends to be limited to marketers outside of market research and product management. However, I’m seeing people applying the framework in customer experience and startup online value proposition also.

Jobs-to-be done is a methodology aimed at driving growth by improving value propositions as part of new product development (NPD). It is also known as Outcome-driven Innovation (ODI) ® , a strategy and innovation process created by Tony Ulwick founder of Strategyn who have run many projects using it since 1991.

It’s focused on supporting customers complete their tasks more effectively and efficiently in B2B and B2C markets.

Applying JTBD to marketing

The main areas of which JTBD can be applied to marketing are:

Marketing planning:

  • Identifies customer needs from improved planning processes
  • Identifies segments / personas within an organization which have different planning needs
  • Enables audit of marketing maturity based on JTBD across RACE needed for always-on marketing programmes

Value proposition development

  • Research technique to identify customer needs
  • Identify messaging to appeal to different personas
  • Identify segments that are under-served

Example: How we use JTBD thinking to help Smart Insights customers

My interest in JTBD was piqued by thinking about how we could apply it to help Smart Insights members. I think this application illustrates the benefits of applying the mindset, the general principles (but not the full methodology). Previously we have described our value proposition in terms of features such as templates, guides and digital learning tools to help businesses ‘Plan, Manage and Optimize’ their use of marketing. We did reference different JTBD since our site and resources are structured around 20 20 digital marketing toolkits, for example covering digital strategy, campaign planning and channels like search, email and social media marketing and so on. These give broad areas of marketing activities to be managed. Then within these, specific activities like ‘create a digital marketing / campaign / social media plan’ are effectively JTBD. Within our digital learning and Quick Wins we have hundreds of ‘bite-sized’ modules and templates structured withing the toolkits and learning paths which can be reviewed as a form of ‘on-demand’ learning within a short time of 15 to 60 minutes to directly support member tasks.

As well as signposting different toolkits and guides and using Algolia, a fast search tool to help findability of JTBD, we also explicitly ask members about their interests when they first sign up to our free or paid plans.  Our needs-based or motivational outcomes are:

  • 1. Develop my career by improving my skills
  • 2. Grow our business by creating a strategy and optimization
  • 3. Grow our team skills through training and development

We can then help our members by recommending content and tools to support their JTBD to support their main interest, while also signposting the other interests since they may overlap. Plus it’s instructive for us to know which is the primary motive of each member and related this to their business role and company type.

The JTBD philosophy is also applied to how members learn and apply our RACE marketing model, which at its simplest, is based on five goals of marketing: Plan > Reach > InterAct > Convert and Engage. In our digital learning and free digital skills assessment I have defined 5 core JTBD for each part of RACE giving 5 X 5 = 25 key marketing activities to be managed / skills to be developed.

8 Steps in applying JTBD for a startup

  • 1. Identify Jobs Customers Are Trying to Get Done
  • 2. Categorize the Jobs to be Done – including both functional and emotional aspects
  • 3. Define competitors
  • 4. Create job statements: Action + object + context
  • 5. Prioritize the JTBD Opportunities including underserved (opportunities), overserved and neutral
  • 6. List the JTBD’s Related Outcome Expectations. What criteria would the customer use to decide which solution to hire or use?
  • 7. Create Outcome Statements

Recommended resources


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About Smart Insights

Dr Dave Chaffey is co-founder and Content Director of digital marketing advice site Smart Insights. We’re a publisher and learning platform that helps our 150,000 active members in over 100 countries plan, manage and optimize their digital marketing activities by applying the actionable advice in our planning templates, guides and interactive e-learning tools.

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