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. SaaS application development must be focused on filling a void.

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.

Example insights gained
with jobs-to-be-done

Finding disconnects

Discovered vets required offline access due to limited network connectivity within clinics and rural areas

Improving productivity

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

Greater visibility

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
is today…

… 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 SaaS application development strategies:

Time Gap

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?

Global Reach
Distance Gap

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?

Financial 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.

Database Improvement
Bundled Offers

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?

User Interaction
Effort Gap

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?

Information Gatekeepers

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? built a $260M business by informing car buyers with transparent information. How would your customer benefit from the right kind of transparency?

Transform your business with SaaS development

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