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How To Use Jobs To Be Done To Perfect Your Positioning

Claire Suellentrop

Head of Marketing, Userlist.io

For SaaS marketers, I run https://forgetthefunnel.com/ w @ggiiaa // For self-funded SaaS founders, Co-founder https://userlist.io/.

Atlanta + The Internet
Claire Suellentrop


When marketing a product, it’s common for founders to focus on the product itself. “Look at our cool features! We help you do XYZ activity, but better!” This is a recipe for getting lost in the noise, and for losing to competitors with deeper pockets.

Instead, capturing your customer’s attention requires focusing on her ultimate motivation (“job to be done”), which is to transform her current life-situation into a preferred one.

After this talk, you’ll walk away with:

– An understanding of the “jobs to be done” theory – An understanding of how JTBD helps companies create effective positioning – A proven, step-by-step process for uncovering your customer’s ultimate motivation (“job to be done”)

Have you ever described your product like this? It's fine, just don't rely on them day-in day-out to differentiate your product

Your customers do want to be saving time. They probably also want to save money, but you need to get more specific.

How do appointment scheduling tools describe themselves?

Appointment scheduling tools describe themselves very generically: "powerful system", "robust feature set", "save time", and "easy-to-use".

There's a big problem with these generic descriptions: They're abstract: you wouldn't sell groceries as individual ingredients, you'd sell the cake. To capture people's imagination, you need to get specific and vivid. This is way more important if you're on a crowded market.

YNAB Example

YNAB made a feature change that made it much harder to keep track of overspending, which is super stressful

What should Claire do? What product should she switch to that will solve the pain point of this one feature breaking?

"Ready to take control of your finances?" - well, no, I'm looking for a solution to solve this pain from YNAB

"Take control of your finances with Quicken" - uhh these all sound the same

Products with generic swappable headlines are like Zebras fading into eachother

Jobs to Be Done

Coffee and Kale talks more about Jobs to be Done.

Job story: When _, help me _, so I can __.

Job story: when _, help me _, so I can _

For this YNAB example:

  • When my partner has made work-related purchases, and we know we'll be reimbursed for those purchases at the end of the quarter...
  • Give me the flexibility to separate those purchases from the rest of our spending...
  • So I can plan next month's budget without the stress of creating easy-to-screw-up workarounds.

Is this an edge case? Not according to Reddit's community:

People are not happy with YNAB. If you were a competitor, think of how effective it would be to take these words and use them on your landing page!

Instead of "Ready to take control of your finances?", try "The only way to fully customize the way you manage your money painlessly."

This copy change had a 200% increase in conversions from the homepage to the pricing page

How do you figure out the job your product does for your customers? Getting a handful of customers on the phone (customer interviews) can color in any gaps leftover from traditional surveys.


Get templates of these survey and interview templates at userlist.io/microconf.


  • build a short (~5 questions) survey (Typeform makes it easy to include hidden fields) from a template
  • identify 1-200 of your most high-value customers
  • email them the survey from a real person (but hold back about 40 customers to use for interviews later)
  • aim for 25-50 results


Your interviews provide extra context

  • Invite the held-back 40 high-value customers to a 30-minute interview with a link to schedule. People love getting on this call and talking about themselves! You'll probably get a ~20% success rate.
  • Aim for 10 interviews.
  • Don't ask people what they think of your new features (people are bad at answering questions like that). Try to get an idea of why they did decisions in the past. "What did your life look like before our product? What happend that led you to start seeking something like our product? Once you found us, what made you sign up for the trial?"
  • Record these calls - raw language is amazing for copy and developing stronger positioning. You'll use this to mirror your customer's language back at them. You can use Rev.com to transcribe them for $1/minute.

Now you'll have a lot of data to start building a Jobs to be Done story, and you can do it in your customer's language.

You'll start seeing patterns in survey results

When you have your own customer's words, writing copy is trivial


What do you do when you have a lot of verticals you're targeting? Landing pages?

Your homepage is like an Airport: some people want pricing, some want jobs, some want to contact support.

Landing pages is a great move. Buffer also used to have two browser tabs to segment agency owners vs. business owners. If people can self-select on their homepage you can speak to people more strongly.

Note from Christian: Also check out Right Message.

When choosing the high value customers, should you let them settle into your product?

Aim for the people who have been in the product for a while. Rule of thumb is 6 months, but it depends on what onboarding means for your product.

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