The Malibu approach: Different jobs are aligned with
specific vehicle attributes.
If you ask people what their needs are, they will tend to talk
about solutions. With the jobs approach, you constantly ask "why"
to get at the root cause that is driving their need, and thus the
reason that a job exists. Insights garnered in this way are more
unique and much more powerful than needs-based research, and the
method drives innovation in a more actionable way.Zeroing in
The jobs model provides a blueprint for innovation: Find frustrated
customers and zero in on the roots of their frustration. It
captures the functional, emotional and social drivers of purchase
and use behavior, and calls attention to product and service
attributes that drive value creation and differentiation.
And the jobs approach can be used at any point in a company's
pipeline. It can be employed upstream as a powerful brainstorming
tool before there's even a product or service concept. This can
drive deep insight into the most meaningful elements of an
offering's design. Jobs insights are also useful much further
downstream, to help with positioning, marketing and selling an
offering after all of its design elements or benefits are fixed.
Here the process helps identify the key attributes that drive
effective positioning and messaging.
So how this approach work in the real world? Intuit's QuickBooks
launch is a famous example of the power of jobs-focused thinking.
In the early 1990s, the company noticed that many small-business
owners were ignoring software from an array of established
accounting-software suppliers and instead were using Quicken --
Intuit's personal-finance software package. Those "small-business"
packages were too complicated and provided a confusing level of
detail, when in fact many business owners had one simple job: to
make sure they didn't run out of cash. The owners were "hiring"
imperfect solutions such as Excel spreadsheets or paper ledgers,
but there was plenty of room for improvement. Recognizing that
simplicity, not accounting language or deep analysis capabilities,
was its target's end goal, Intuit adapted and repackaged Quicken to
better serve small-business owners. The result, QuickBooks, rapidly
took over the category.
Of course, there can be a level of uncertainty about which jobs are
most important to customers. LiveTV, a subsidiary of JetBlue, will
soon find out if it chose the right job with its in-flight Wi-Fi
offering. LiveTV isn't the only company trying to bring internet
connectivity to the skies, but the company is gambling that what
travelers most want to get done is "stay connected while I'm in the
air," not be entertained.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
is chairman and co-founder of Innosight, an innovation-based
consulting and executive-training firm focused on helping companies
and institutions innovate for new growth and transformation.
is a senior partner at Innosight. Along with Innosight President
Scott Anthony and Elizabeth Altman of Motorola, they are co-authors
of 'The Innovator's Guide to Growth: Putting Disruptive Innovation
The latter requires full broadband internet access, an expensive
proposition that will most likely require passengers to pay a fee.
LiveTV's e-mail-only solution is much cheaper to provide and as a
result will likely be offered for free. "We're betting that e-mail
scratches the connectivity itch when you're on a plane," said Nate
Quigley, LiveTV CEO. The company is targeting a very specific job
and has been able to cut scope -- and cost -- from its
Is it a good bet? Check back in a year or so. Continental Airlines
recently announced that it will also offer the service, which is
being tested on a handful of JetBlue planes. JetBlue plans to
gradually roll out the service to the rest of its fleet.A different approach
The QuickBooks and LiveTV cases highlight the value of jobs framing
a strategy and defining an offering. But it can also prove useful
for positioning, marketing and sales. Imagine you're at a
dealership searching for the right new car. Usually you'd be
approached by a salesperson who'd ask you if you wanted to look at
Car X, and then you'd get hit with a list of features ranging from
the upholstery to horsepower, crash-test ratings, sport or luxury
packages, torque, subwoofers. It's a ton of information, but you
probably care most about only a handful of key features.
The launch team for the new Chevy Malibu wanted to take a different
approach. With the help of advertising agency Campbell-Ewald
and our firm, the Chevy marketing team uncovered distinct jobs the
car addressed: Some customers were most concerned with taking the
best care possible of their families, while others wanted to use
the car to commute and hoped to enhance their daily experience. The
jobs were closely aligned with different vehicle attributes: A
shopper looking for a family car is likely to care more about the
safety features, roomy interior and affordability. Someone who
wants a commuting car, on the other hand, could be more interested
in a sporty, feature-rich, quiet interior, and performance and
handling characteristics. With these insights in mind, Chevy
educated many of its salespeople to try to understand potential
buyers' jobs to be done. Salespeople might ask buyers about their
lifestyles or why they want a new car. How are they planning to use
the car? Will they use it mostly for commuting? Taking the kids to
school? Depending on the specific jobs that are important to
customers, salespeople can show them the features of the car that
are most helpful for what they're trying to get done.
Why the change in tactic? Last year Chevrolet's marketing team had
worked through various elements of the launch for the
new-generation Malibu and sought ways to further differentiate the
car and draw attention to its new features. Given the brutal
competition in the midsize-car category, Chevrolet wanted to
continue to improve the quality, reliability and dependability
perception of the all-new Malibu. Chevy addressed past challenges
in these areas and also enhanced the car's interior and exterior
fit, finish and style. Chevy wanted to make sure customers got a
good look at it. The goal was to make Malibu "the car that you
Overall, Chevy incorporated a deep understanding of its target's
jobs into the Malibu's advertising campaign as well as dealer
training for sales representatives, showing them how to communicate
the right set of features to customers, depending on what customers
wanted from the car.
That brings us back to that car lot, where you aren't getting
lectured about the stuff you don't care about; instead, you're
learning about the things that really matter to you.
Refreshing, isn't it? Now imagine how powerful those concepts can
be for marketers. It's time to stop asking "Who?" and start asking