Jobs To Be Done + StoryBrand Framework

What causes a customer to purchase and use a particular product or service?

It all boils down to understanding your customer's problem deeply.

As messaging and marketing consultants, we combine two frameworks in helping our clients effectively uncover their ideal buyers problem and craft a messaging strategy that connects with their ideal buyers.

Messaging frameworks

These two frameworks are:

  • 1/ Jobs To Be Done
  • 2/ StoryBrand

1/ What Is Jobs To Be Done (JTBD)?

Jobs-to-be-done (JTBD) is a process that helps you answer why and how people buy the products they do.

Companies who understand and apply the JTBD framework, greatly increase the success of connecting their products with the right buyer at the right time.

  • The JTBD premise is that people don’t actually buy products, they hire them to do a job.
  • Features and benefits themselves don’t cause people to buy. They’re part of it but they’re not the causal reason.
  • You need to be able to understand what causes people to hire or fire your product.
  • The JTBD framework helps us understand causality and what drives consumers to buy.

Jobs To Be Done is a business theory that was developed by Harvard professor Clayton Christensen.

Here’s how Clay Christensen, Taddy Hall, Karen Dillon, and David S. Duncan explain it in their Harvard Business Review article “Know Your Customers’ “Jobs To Be Done”:

“When we buy a product, we essentially “hire” it to help us do a job. If it does the job well, the next time we’re confronted with the same job, we tend to hire that product again. And if it does a crummy job, we “fire” it and look for an alternative.”

These jobs can be anything from passing time while waiting in line to packing a healthful lunch for your kid to finding a more fulfilling career.

The Jobs To Be Done theory was developed in part as a complement to the theory of Disruptive Innovation.

“A deep understanding of a job allows you to innovate without guessing what trade-offs your customers are willing to make. It’s a kind of job spec.”

In other words, when you get clarity on why someone wants to buy something, it makes it easier for you to create the right products and messaging.

Here are a few key principles that the authors advise to keep in mind:

  • “Job” is shorthand for what an individual really seeks to accomplish in a given circumstance.
  • The circumstances are more important than customer characteristics, product attributes, new technologies, or trends.
  • Good innovations solve problems that formerly had only inadequate solutions—or no solution.
  • Jobs are never simply about function—they have powerful social and emotional dimensions.

The breakdown of the Jobs to Be Done Framework

  • 1/ Situational - what is the situation which triggers a need (a job) to be done? [When ...]
  • 2/ Motivational - what does the customer want to do? [I want to ...]
  • 3/ Outcome - Why do they want this? What's the desired outcome (functional job)? [So I can ...]
  • 4/ Emotional - What will the emotional state of the customer be when this job is complete? [Making me feel ...]
  • 5/ Social - How will the customer look to others when they solve the situation? [So others see me as ...]

Your job is to identify the job that your customer wants to hire

"There is a simple, but powerful, insight at the core of our theory: customers don’t buy products or services; they pull them into their lives to make progress. We call this progress the “job” they are trying to get done, and in our metaphor we say that customers “hire” products or services to solve these jobs" – Christensen, Clayton

The JTBD framework is an effective for product design teams as well as marketers. It helps product design teams understand and prioritize the functions for your product development. It helps your marketing team to create targeted messages that will resonate with your ideal customers.

Jobs-to-be-done Examples

Basecamp uses the JTBD process to lead their product development and to uncover the right messaging to connect with their ideal customers.

By visiting Basecamp's home page, you see the JTBD clearly at play.

In the above example, the marketing team behind Basecamp understand that before someone goes buying, there’s a reason they go shopping.

"There are usually a few events that lead to the desire — or demand — to shop. Something happens that trips the initial thought. There’s a spark. This is often when passive looking begins. You aren’t feeling the internal pressure to buy yet, but you’re starting to get curious. Then a second event happens. It could be soon after the first, or months later, but this one’s more serious. It lights a fire. You need to make progress. Now you’re actively shopping.

Over the past few months, we’ve been interviewing customers to understand what led up to their need to begin shopping for — and ultimately buying — Basecamp. Across the interviews, it turns out there were four common situations that triggered people to actively shop for Basecamp." – Jason Fried, the Why Before the Why

Another example, is Intercom. The team behind article has utilized the Jobs-to-be-do framework to better understand the job their customers are using their product for. Every feature that the product design builds is based on a real problem clients are experiencing that they need to hire Intercom's tools for.

Similar to Basecamp, Intercom used the Jobs to be done theory to understand the why before the why their customer wanted to use their products. There was a clear set of situational triggers that led to someone looking to hire Intercom.
4 forces influencing a customer switch
Src. Intercom
Sample questions that helped Intercom harness the functional vs the emotional

Intercom on Jobs-to-be-done
Intercom - the company that used the JBTD framework to build their product has put together a fantastic resource with valuable lessons learned in applying the JTBD framework.

How to use the Jobs To Be Done Framework?

At the heart of the Jobs to be done Framework is knowing the right kind of questions to ask your customers in order to get the right kind of answers. Each question should lead your team in better understanding the real motive or cause that propels your customer to purchase from you (Big Hire), continue to use your product (small hire), cancel or quite using your product/services.

The right kind of questions should help you uncover the reasons or motives why someone fired a competing product and hired your product (this is where the emotional motive/stories are)

If you reflect on your own purchasing decision, you just don't decide to buy something. Something has to be happen to you first. You've got a lot of distractions and priorities in your life and you don't just wake up one day and decide that you're going to buy this new thing today. But rather, a lot of small situations and outside factors have been helping you move closer to making that purchase.

“If you do not know how to ask the right question, you discover nothing.” – As W. Edwards Deming,

Another Example:The Building Company That Was in the Business of Moving Lives

One of the examples that the article authors used to illustrate the Jobs To Be Done framework was a building company that sold condominiums in the Detroit area.

Their target audience was people who were looking to downsize, mostly divorced single parents and retirees.

The company was getting a lot of interest, but they were struggling to actually sell the condominiums. So they asked an innovation consultant Bob Moesta for help.

He decided to talk to people who have already bought units to learn what job they have hired the condominiums to do.

It turned out there was no clear demographic or psychographic profile for the buyers and there weren’t any particular set of condominium features that led to a sale.

Curiously, though, a detail that kept coming up again and again was the dining room table.

“People kept saying, ‘As soon as I figured out what to do with my dining room table, then I was free to move,’” reported Moesta.

At first, he was baffled by this, but then he realized that dining tables have sentimental value due to all the memories that are connected to them (family dinners, birthdays, Christmas, etc.).

Moesta then hypothesized that the anxiety caused by having to give up something that had a profound meaning to them prevented people from buying a condominium.

“That realization helped Moesta and his team begin to grasp the struggle potential home buyers faced. “I went in thinking we were in the business of new-home construction,” he recalls. “But I realized we were in the business of moving lives.”

So they decided to focus on making it as easy as possible:

  • They made architectural changes, such as creating space for a dining room table.
  • They added a sorting room to their buildings so that people could take their time deciding which things to keep and which ones to discard.
  • They provided moving services and 2-years of storage.

And it worked!

By 2007, when the market was plummeting, the building company had grown their business by 27%.

“The insight into the job the customers needed done allowed the company to differentiate its offering in ways competitors weren’t likely to copy—or even comprehend. The new perspective changed everything.”

Here's another example of JBTD framework in action from SNHU.

The SNHU team embraced the Jobs to Be Done process and identified an under-served segment of 30+ year-old adults who hired their online learning program to “resume an aborted education at a later stage of their lives ... it was a miracle that so many students had found SNHU in the first place — and stuck it out to reach graduation.” These customers were essentially “buying and using a product that imperfectly performs the job,” and they were “cobbling together a workaround solution” using SNHU’s suboptimal experience in order to complete their education at a later stage of their lives. - Competing against Luck Book

As a result of applying the Jobs to Be Done framework, SNHU grew their online learning program to serve 75,000 students in 36 states and countries around the world.

By the end of 2016, SNHU forecasted $535 million in revenue; an impressive 34% CAGR (compound annual growth rate) for 6 years in the highly competitive education market. (source)

JTBD for a Website Agency (Example)

Here's an example from our company, applied to businesses looking to hire a firm to design and develop a new website for their company.

Situation JBTD
Situation that causes the need for the job in the first place
JBTD Motivation
What's the motivation behind the job
JBTD Outcome
What will success look like when the job is complete
JBTD Emotional
With the job complete, how will it make the client feel
JBTD Social
How will I be perceived by others when I accomplish this job

2/ What is StoryBrand?

Once you have a product that people want, how can you market it effectively?

This is where StoryBrand comes in. It is a marketing framework that helps businesses clarify their message in a way that truly resonates with their target audience.

It was created by Donald Miller, the author of “Building a StoryBrand”.

The main idea is that you should tell a story based on this universal 7-step narrative structure:

A character has a problem and meets a guide who gives them a plan and calls them to action that helps them avoid failure and ends in a success.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these steps and how they can be applied in marketing:

Step 1. A Character

Donald Miller explains that every story begins with a character that wants something.

It’s important to note that your customer is the hero of this story, not your company.

Question: What do your customers want as it relates to your brand?

See examples of StoryBrand websites.

Step 2. Has a Problem

People are only interested in your product because they hope that it will help them solve a problem that they have.

You need to clearly define that problem and offer to resolve it.

Question: Have you clearly defined the problem your brand solves?

Step 3. And Meets a Guide

Donald Miller explains that customers aren’t looking for a hero, they are looking for a guide.

You should position yourself as someone who can help them achieve whatever it is that they are trying to achieve.

Question: Are you positioning yourself as the guide?

Step 4. Who Gives Them a Plan

You need to provide a 3-4 step plan that shows how easy it is to work with you.

Donald Miller uses the example of a financial advisor who might say:

I think you can probably retire earlier than you thought. I have a really easy process that helps you to make that decision.

  • 01. We meet for an informal meeting.
  • 02. We assess your goals.
  • 03. You get a customized strategy to retire early.

Question: Do you have a simple plan that makes it easy for your customers to do business with you?

Step 5. And Calls Them to Action

You need to understand that customers don’t take action unless they are challenged to take action.

That’s why you should have a clear call to action (e.g. a “Buy Now” button).

Question: Do you have a clear call to action?

Step 6. That Helps Them Avoid Failure

Your customer doesn’t want to fail.

You need to explain the negative consequences of not buying your product.

Question: Have you communicated what’s at stake to your customers? What are the negative consequences of not doing business with you?

Step 7. And Ends in a Success

You need to show your customer how your product will make their life better.

According to Donald Miller, if you don’t do that, people won’t do business with you.

Question: How can you help your customer envision success after doing business with you?

“A Clear Message Is Your Competitive Advantage”

“A clear message is your competitive advantage.

If you fumble over your words and ideas, and you don’t know exactly how to communicate what you do, you’ll confuse your customers and people won’t buy your products.

But by using the 7 elements of story, you’ll be communicating a clear message that customers will hear and respond to,” says Donald Miller.

Case Study: Photographer Cuts Almost 90% of Website Copy, Quadruples His Revenue

Kyle Shulz is a photographer who used the StoryBrand framework to quadruple the revenue from his photography course.

That course was designed for parents who wanted to learn how to take better photos of their children.

His message was “The Power of Photography in the Hands of Parents”.

When he launched it, he made $28,000 in sales. Pretty good, right?

Kyle then clarified his message using the StoryBrand Framework: “We Help Parents Take Better Pics”.

He also cut the copy on his website from 1,000 words to less than 200 words.

What were the results?

His second launch to the same email list brought in $103,000 in sales!

Example of a StoryBrand Narrative Script

Here's an example of our Brandscript Narrative at Creativeo.

At Creativeo, we know you want to succeed in “StoryBranding” your business. In order to measure that success, you need to see the ROI. You need to see more leads in your pipeline, more conversions, and a revenue chart that keeps climbing upwards.

The challenge you face after going “all-in” on StoryBrand is that there are hundreds of guides to choose from. The options are overwhelming, and you deserve the guide who’s the right fit for your business.

We understand how much is at stake with your investment in StoryBrand. That’s why we only work with businesses we know we can help. We vet potential clients to make sure our method is a good fit for their goals. Creativeo clients are looking for an in-depth process for researching and understanding your ideal client, a complete deployment of the StoryBrand marketing strategy, and a process that’s focused on generating ROI.

Furthermore, we guarantee your ROI from our work. That’s how much we believe in theStoryBrand Framework. We’ve seen the results, and we know it works. And to further guarantee your success, we assemble a team of StoryBrand Guides to work on your project so that it benefits from a wide range of perspectives and experience.  

Here’s how it works. We approach your StoryBrand implementation in three “Chapters.”

  • Chapter 1 - StoryBrand Messaging
    We'll use the StoryBrand Framework to explain what you do in a way that draws people to your business.
  • Chapter 2 - StoryBrand Website Design
    We build a custom StoryBrand website that’s designed to capture and convert your ideal clients.
  • Chapter 3 - StoryBrand Marketing Playbook + Execution
    You’ll have a sales funnel and strategy in place that eliminates the guesswork out of attracting and converting leads into customers.

Throughout the journey, we promise you this. We will examine your brand in every imaginable way - frontwards, backwards, sideways, upside down,and inside out – until we find the message that drives ROI for your business.

So, Schedule an Exploratory Call today. In the meantime, you can download our free resource, 7 Mistakes on Your Website that Are Costing You Business.

When you’re ready to implement StoryBrand, the last thing you want to do is stall or feel uncertain about your guide.Instead, you can be confident you’ve found the right fit and keep moving forward on a complete StoryBrand transformation that will be an engine of growth for your business.


These two frameworks are a killer combination:

  • 01 Jobs To Be Done helps you create a product that people want.
  • 02 StoryBrand helps you market that product effectively.

So don’t hesitate to put the ideas that we just discussed into practice.

It will make it much easier for you to grow your business.

More StoryBrand Insights.