How to Apply the Jobs-to-be-Done Theory to Marketing: 5 Must-Read Articles

June 28, 2018 Michael Behrenhausen


Harvard Business School Professor Theodore Levitt became famous for pointing out the need to focus on customer outcomes with this quote: “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!”

“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!”


Ever since, marketers have understood that people buy products to get a job done—in other words, to fill a need. Developed 25 years ago by Tony Ulwick, founder of Strategyn and inventor of the Outcome-Driven Innovation (ODI)™ process, the Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD) theory is the ultimate framework for categorizing, defining, capturing, organizing and understanding customer needs.

At Harte Hanks, we continue to explore how both the Jobs-to-be-Done theory and ODI can be applied to marketing and the buyer's journey to better serve the customer. Have a look at our top-performing posts from the first half of 2018:

DOWNLOAD: The Jobs-to-be-Done Canvas

In this piece on The Marketing Journal (, Tony Ulwick shares his Jobs-to-be-Done canvas, which he recommends for use in a workshop setting to help product, marketing and strategy teams learn the fundamentals of JTBD and ODI processes. The canvas also helps these teams to establish a common language for innovation and provides a more predictable approach to innovation and discovery of growth opportunities.

How to Deliver a Better Omnichannel Experience

Marketers are looking for that all-encompassing, seamless omnichannel experience, but the key is to be smart about it. Asha Rangaraj, Harte Hanks Director of Consulting Services, explains how marketers can use Outcome-Driven Innovation to build out rich, omnichannel experiences more efficiently and effectively. After all, we're all working with limited marketing budgets—we need to invest in the interactions that will add the most value for the customer.

No More Assumptions—How to Understand What Your Customers Really Want

With the ODI approach, businesses are rethinking customer segments. In this blog post, Natasha Silensky, Harte Hanks Senior Consultant, looks at the two decades of development of the ODI approach and how it leaves behind old school segmentation methods—stereotyping users based on age, gender, income, and education to create personas—instead focusing on the customer’s job to be done.

How to Retain and Grow Retail Customers: Help Them Complete Their Jobs

Brands tend to focus so much on the transaction that they forget that buying something is an experience. Jon Dome, Harte Hanks VP of Customer Engagement, states that engaging customers early on with a positive brand experience is important to pull them into a productive conversation that may (or may not) lead to a sale. But it doesn’t stop there. It also means that helping customers to complete their jobs to be done will encourage customers to continue their conversation and their relationship with your brand.

The Role of Jobs-to-be-Done in the Bank Branch Customer Experience

Retail isn’t the only industry struggling to determine the future of their physical locations—banking and financial services grapples with the same issue. How does the bank branch as we know it change to stay relevant? JD Metcalf, VP of Marketing Strategy for Harte Hanks, explains how bank branches now need to be designed around the Jobs-to-be-Done approach, with an eye on creating a convenient, omnichannel experience for the customer. Read on. 

If you'd like to learn more about applying the Jobs-to-be-Done theory and ODI to your marketing, drop us a line.

About the Author

Michael Behrenhausen

Michael is a Denver-based content writer for Harte Hanks specializing in marketing copywriting, editing and design. His hobbies include music, travel, film and reading.

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