23 Sep Jobs to get done and entering new markets
Entering new markets might entitle learning new customer segments and new jobs to get done for them without changing the product. When building a persona profile for your marketing strategy, the “job to get done” comes across for many marketers as a very difficult thing to nail. Pin-pointing this will be a cornerstone of your business. The term was introduced by Tony Ulwich in 1991 but only became popular after Harvard Business School promoted it in 2003.
Let me explain why:
Some years back, when I initially started with a job in advertising, it was the early days of BTL ( below the line in advertising is anything consumer-facing in outdoors or indoors) in Romania, my home country. At this point, I was 14 years years old. I started my work experience as soon as I had an ID card and could legally get a working contract. I was at the time working in supermarkets and trade shows or fairs promoting different brands among which, my longest relationship was with Nestle. I quickly became my soul project which was feeding into my need to learn more about nutrition. At that point, I knew nothing about jobs to get done, but I knew a lot about psychology of people already so I intuitively did what we call today figuring jobs to get done through lean experimentation or growth hacking.
The advertising message
Nestle was promoting one line for female audiences between 22-35 in Romania: “our cereals have whole grain” but did not market before any of their products to this audience. The HQ of Nestle came up with the marketing campaign trying to reach this audience with no previous data on how ready this customer segment is for their products. In the first few weeks of the campaign, I and the rest of the hostesses working on this campaign tried to sell this marketing pitch to the client. It didn’t work!
The company had pushed marketing from top-down without properly assessing what was the reality on the ground. With so many of us hostesses spread in the main commercial centers across the city, they were able to pull together some data collected from hundreds of clients we interacted with daily. Because at the time I was just a teenager with a side job to make some pocket money from my high school study, I wasn’t as involved in the strategy part but for my age, I was quite impactful in that campaign.
The market reality
In a matter of weeks after we started the reach with our campaign, I realized this was not working well so the first thing I did was to call everyone back at the agency and talk to everyone about our interactions. Talking to the other girls I realized we can tweak a bit the speech and pitch a slightly different positioning in order to test their reactions. Most of these women did not have healthy breakfast habits. It was simply not a “thing” in 2004. As such, I knew that the “job to get done” for our customers was not a healthy breakfast. The effort put in educating these women about eating healthy and the difference between the whole seed and only the grain and the impact on their diet was too hard. It was simply not selling because the awareness was not there. Being ahead of your time in a market is quite often the reason why a product doesn’t “pick up”. So I flipped the coin with this situation trying to figure out by experimentation what was their job to get done.
We divided the team of hostesses in 4 and we tested according to the areas of residence of the ladies that would go in those supermarkets the 4 profiles we had in mind. One example is this:
- The rushed mother with kids to prepare in the morning who would simply go for the easiest effort type of breakfast for herself while not skipping it. That was the pitch for the areas of lower-income in the city to see if this hypothesis fits for them. The pitch was somewhere along the lines of “Try our cereals that are super easy to make every morning why you get everyone else ready in the house”. It worked like magic! It didn’t even need differentiation from competition like Kellogg’s because it had a slim figure on the bag which helped give them a boost of confidence thinking they would lose weight if they buy the cereals. It was their “special treat” added to their shopping cart when everything else they bought was for the entire family.
The other 3 were less successful because it blended too much with the health part which became too complicated. But we tested these as well:
- The fitness girl that wants to lose weight while not skipping breakfast. This was generally in the areas with a lot of student campuses and young professional women. The jobs to get done for her were closer to our initial brief yet not really touching the same idea. The reasons we tested were more around losing weight than eating healthy. That means that some women might reject the product for having too much sugar.
- The modern girl who wants to change how she eats because the cultural standard in Romania at the time for breakfast involved eggs only. She would try new things because she wants to be cool and evolve. This was addressing the high-end areas of the city where residences where more expensive and residents would travel more. We did not know at the time that rich people stick so much to tradition. That hypothesis failed. The jobs to get done for people like that are really hard to assess because they are not loyal customers. They buy impulsively and most of the time according to what’s trending so if we’d have some waves of success with that it would be the equivalent of a influencer campaign today on Instagram. It won’t be sustainable.
- The light and easy woman who works out and wants to keep herself in shape by eating fibers and a good mix of ingredients for breakfast. We anticipated this would work out in almost any neighborhood where we would come across them in the supermarket so we instructed everyone to have this as the “back-up” speech and test where we meet them. This was also the closest to the headquarter marketing strategy team but it resulted in a lot of these women not even paying attention to us. They were too busy to learn new things and experiment so we didn’t engage them at all. The jobs to get done for these women were probably something the product can do but we were underestimating them by promoting the product this way. The channel was not right for them!
Having this example of an “in-store advertising” campaign I can imagine that in the digital world we can’t check data as easy as we check in with people who pass by us when we try to get their attention with our product, but back in the days that most of us don’t even remember, we used to do advertising like this. However, our experimentation DNA was not really a thing at that time either which made us some of the early “big data” testers in analog conditions. Having in mind the same principles we can easily translate them into the digital world and see how it makes sense to test what your product can do for your buyers.
How do you test jobs to get done for your customers will be the topic of a future post!