Stand apart from your competitors
It goes without saying that before a product is built, it must be carefully designed to fill a void in the market. A product that does not solve a pressing problem will fail to differentiate itself in any meaningful way.
But how do you identify the void?
Jobs-to-be-done customer research
Clay Christensen, professor at Harvard Business School, introduced a compelling solution to this challenge in his 2003 book The Innovator’s Solution. A solution he called the jobs-to-be-done framework. In this research, Christensen discovered that classical approaches to marketing, driven by attribute-based segmentation, fell short.
The problem with this kind of segmentation, or thinking of customers by attribute, is that it failed to focus the product development effort on the needs or circumstances that prompted a customer to look for a product as a solution.
What job, in other words, was the customer looking to hire a product to do? Christensen found that by segmenting customers and products by the job-to-be-done led to better product design decisions that enhanced the product’s appeal in meaningful ways.
Speak with a SaaS development expert today
Get a free, no-obligation quote from our experts
Example insights gained
Discovered vets required offline access due to limited network connectivity within clinics and rural areas
Determined that poor usability was reducing productivity for tank leak detection technicians
Discovering a gap
Identified a gap within the education market of existing heart rate monitoring technology and filled it
Realized that smart photo booths could offer marketers greater visibility into in-person events
Once we understand the job-to-be-done, we close the gap
In our work with over 200 companies designing and developing custom software products, we have found a recurring pattern: the products that break through are carefully designed to reduce the distance between
where a customer
… and where they
want to be
Strategies for every challenge
In working in all kinds of industries from financial services to ed-tech, we have identified 6 types of gaps that can lead to differentiated product development strategies:
Do existing products require customers to wait for an “extended period” before filling their need? Extended in this context is relative. In one industry, 1 day might be a long time and in another, it might be unthinkably short. Amazon’s Prime Air drone delivery service is pushing the envelope by continuously closing the time gap. What could such an innovation mean for your business?
Do customers currently have to travel to get the value they seek? Can this distance be reduced or even completely eradicated? Consider, for example, how Netflix destroyed incumbent Blockbuster, despite its mammoth footprint of 8,000 stores, by shouldering the burden of delivery. How could you redefine the customer experience by closing the distance gap?
Similar to the X-factor process improvement process, there might be an opportunity to reduce the financial risk for a customer considering buying from your industry. For example, NRG home Solar, introduced a lease product that enables homeowners to install solar panels on their rooftops without shelling out the cash to buy them outright.
Is it commonplace in your industry for products or services to be bundled and sold together? Apple’s strategy of unbundling the music album is a brilliant example of how to dominate a market by delivering a smaller, more specific unit of value to the customer. Can you imagine a more focused product offering which might offer less than the competition, but creates more customer preference in the process?
Have you ever bought something that required a lot from you as a customer? Renting a storage unit, for example, is typically a precursor to a long and tiresome weekend project dreaded by all. Sparefoot closed that gap for customers with this job-to-be-done by driving to you to pick up your junk, which they store for you. Does your industry require customers to do the heavy lifting? What if you changed that?
Do you require customers to jump through hoops before you share information that’s essential to their purchase? Does your industry rely on information asymmetry to bolster margins? Truecar.com built a $260M business by informing car buyers with transparent information. How would your customer benefit from the right kind of transparency?