Changing the way you analyze your customers is a brave move. At Acquire, we started using ‘jobs to be done’ as a framework to grow and understand our customers. Personally, I feel it has allowed us to unlock many challenges we faced as a company."Jobs to be done" is a framework that helps companies understand precisely what customers are trying to achieve with their product. This sounds simple at first. However, once you start talking to your customers and dig deeper, you may realize that they are not using your product in the way you thought they would.
The Never-Ending Challenge
At the very start, we decided to get a better understanding of our customer ‘persona’ and try to imagine who would be our ideal customer. This would involve us understanding their demographics, interests, personality traits and so forth. From our findings, we would attempt to create strategies to market to this ‘persona type’.But with this approach, our results were all over the place. The correlation of different characteristics was never definitive enough to produce one customer type.For example, 35 percent of our customers who contacted us were male, interested in reading blogs such as CNN, Financial Times, Insider, TechCrunch with hobbies such as football, soccer and the like. Twenty-five percent of customers were female, prefer reading HubSpot and medium.com with varied interests.The lists and comparisons were endless. And to generate consistent results – and determine a correlated assumption – would have been very time-consuming and require a huge amount of data.Sooner rather than later we kept running into the same problem. As we were analyzing our premium customers base, which is consistently growing, it was obvious that they all have their own unique persona. In the end, you have a list of customer personas, who are all uniquely different. So what now? Do you keep creating personas? Start marketing to another ‘persona’? All Customers types are different. But are they trying to achieve a similar outcome?
We were definitely not the only company who found a vastly different demographic range among customers. Looking at companies such as Dropbox, Basecamp, where they have a very high variation of customer personas. But, in the end, the different personas have a similar outcome. I could love football, and you could have never even watched a game — yet we use Dropbox to store and share files.
Time to make the change
So, instead of looking at the individual personas of the customer, we started looking at what ‘job’ they were using our product for, and what results they were seeing.Because, regardless of the persona of the customer, they were mostly trying to achieve a similar outcome with the application.We went from numerous personas to approximately three jobs and outcomes. Once you realize exactly where and how your product fits into your customer's day, what they are doing with it and what it allows them to achieve, you can start using this information for growth, marketing, and product development.For example, use this exercise:When a customer______ I want to______ so i can______Example:When a customer visits our website I want to pro-actively engage them so I can boost our conversion rate.This is a great exercise for any company, it breaks down a number of small goals to one-three core customer goals.
As usual, it starts off with the Customer
We made it our mission to talk to as many customers as we could. We wanted to know exactly what ‘job’ customers were using our product for.We asked the following questions:
- What are you using Acquire.io for? (If for example, the customer said ‘sales’, it is our job to pay attention to this). This could lead to questions such as ‘How is the sales team using the product?’ and ‘Who are they trying to sell to and when?’
- What did this allow you to achieve? (This is crucial. We all use products, we use their features — because we want a particular outcome).
- In your entire workday is Acquire being used all day or in increments? (We want to know in the 8–10 hours they’re at work, where and how we fit).
These three questions would lead to approximately 14–15 questions as we tried to go more in-depth with each point. We also recorded all our conversations so that we could capture all the necessary information and go through them as a team.
Making a difference in Product and Marketing
As you learn what customers are looking to achieve with your product and how they achieve it, you gain a whole new perspective on your business. Make sure that your product allows your customers to do their ‘job’ in the most simplistic manner with the best results. Innovate on how these jobs are being done and make sure you keep ahead at all times.By learning more about the use-cases of our product and what ‘success’ looked like for your customers, you get a better idea on how to market to your audience. Marketing material and messaging should reflect what your target audience is trying to achieve. We would go through recordings and try to understand what similar ‘words’ or ‘phrases’ our customers would use when describing their success and issues they came across. We then would implement this messaging in our marketing outreach to test which one worked best.
Are you saying Personas are useless?
What we now use personas for is aspects such as job title, industry, company size, position in the hierarchy etc., which has allowed us to get a better understanding of which person in a company approach us first and who our decision makers are. Even before any conversation, I would know what they are looking for and who I need to bring into the conversation to get this deal pushed through.We examine industries and which ones are working the best for us. What I mean by this is, for which industry are we really providing the best value for and in which location. This allows us to focus on one or two key industries in a specific location. It's vital that we understand these aspects to make sure our marketing budget is generating high ROI.But ultimately, for us as a SaaS company, it was more important to understand the jobs we were solving as opposed to determining a customer's persona.