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Grow Past the Core: The Criteria For Success

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This post was originally published on Medium.

There are a number of ways to drive growth in adjacent markets. One effective way is to target other jobs that customers are already trying to get done when using your products — their related jobs.

Your company must work continuously to deliver value to its customers — or risk losing them. Competitors pose an ongoing threat as they are constantly targeting the same customers, trying to help them get their “jobs” done better and/or more cheaply. So how can your company stay out in front?

We know that customers don’t want to have to cobble together lots of different solutions to get a job done. This means that helping your customers get the entire core job done with a single offering is always a winning strategy. But what happens when that strategy has been realized and you find yourself in what appears to be a commodity market? Where should a company turn next to generate growth?

As Peter Drucker says, the prime directive for a business is to “create and keep a customer.” An effective way to deliver more value (and keep customers) is to help customers get more “jobs” done — specifically, help them get more related jobs done.

Related jobs are the functional jobs that your customers are trying to get done in conjunction with (or related to) the core functional job for which they currently buy your product or service. For example, a financial services firm like Charles Schwab, TD or Fidelity helps its customers get a very specific core functional job done: invest to grow wealth. But these same customers have other functional jobs they are trying to get done that are closely related to “invest to grow wealth.” These related jobs, for example, include:

  • Pass on wealth to family members
  • Plan for retirement
  • Lower the tax burden
  • Store important financial documents/records

Notice that these related jobs have been around for a very long time. This is in alignment with one of the core tenets of Jobs Theory: solutions come and go, but jobs are stable over time. Because related jobs are stable and plentiful, targeting them can provide your company with an ongoing stream of attractive opportunities for growth.

When uncovering your customer’s related jobs it is best to stay close to the core functional job your product helps them execute — don’t go too far afield. Why? Because the closer you stay to the core functional job, the more likely it is that, (i) your company will be able to address the job with its existing capabilities and, (ii) alignment will be achieved with your customer’s brand expectations.

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A Real-World Example Of Targeting Related Jobs

Fidelity recently targeted a related job when it introduced FidSafe. This product tackles the job of storing a family’s important financial documents. Up until now people would get this job done with the help of a safety deposit box, a fire proof box in the home, or possibly a folder in a file cabinet. Each of these solutions has its downsides. For example, information could be misplaced, lost, modified or stolen and access may be limited, making it hard for heirs to take the appropriate actions when needed.

FidSafe is a cloud-based storage application that addresses these underserved needs. It offers families a way to store, access and share digital copies of their most important documents such as wills, trust and estates, work contracts, incentive stock option plans, and property deeds. Offering its customers this “digital safety deposit box” is a natural match for Fidelity’s capabilities, yet it extends beyond addressing the core job: invest to grow wealth.

Criteria for Success

So how did Fidelity conclude that this related job was the right job to pursue and why did it believe it had the right to play in the cloud storage space? To evaluate a related job for attractiveness there are two major questions a company must ask. First, is this an attractive opportunity to address? Second, can we solve it with reasonable cost, effort and appropriate risk? For each of these questions, there are criteria that companies should use to evaluate opportunities. A high-potential related job should excel on as many of these criteria as possible:

Is this an attractive opportunity to address?

  • Executors are underserved: The customers executing the related job are not well satisfied with the solutions they use today, i.e., they have underserved outcomes.
  • Frequent execution: Customers execute the related job frequently.
  • Enhances the customer relationship: It is a job that deepens the relationship with the customer making a switch to competing products less likely.
  • Fits with strategy & brand equity: The related job must align with the mission and vision of the company.
  • Return: Adequate revenue and profitability can be achieved with a solution that will better satisfy the related job.

Can we solve it with reasonable cost, effort and appropriate risk?

  • Addressable with technology: known technology can be used to help customers get the related job done significantly better and/or more cheaply.
  • Platform enabled: The solution can be implemented on the current product platform.
  • Fits with company capabilities and resources: The company will be able to leverage its core capabilities and resources to ensure customers get the related job done better.

So how does the related job that Fidelity chose to pursue measure up against these criteria? Assuming it met the first criteria, and users were underserved, we can say that it performs well across the criteria, making it an attractive related job to target for growth.

Pursuing Related Jobs-to-be-Done

How do you embark on your pursuit of related jobs in your market? To get started, we recommend you take the following steps:

  1. Select a core market that your company is seeking to grow. This could be a cash cow or a market with declining market share or revenue.
  2. Define the job executor and the functional job-to-be-done for the chosen market. For example, if your company is in the streaming music space, your job executors may be defined as music enthusiasts and the job-to-be-done may be to listen to music. Framing the core job is critical since your related jobs will be in orbit around this job.
  3. Interview customers and uncover the jobs they are trying to get done before, during and after they execute the core functional job. These are your customer’s related jobs.
  4. Evaluate the attractiveness of each related job against the criteria stated above and select the related jobs you want to consider. This can be accomplished using a cross-functional team (development, strategy, marketing and business development) to ensure the best results.
  5. Determine which of the related jobs under consideration is most underserved and select it for pursuit. This is best accomplished by quantifying the importance and satisfaction of each of these related jobs with a representative sample of your target customer population.
  6. Define the customer’s desired outcomes for the selected related job. This can be accomplished through a hand full of customer interviews. In the FidSafe example, you would be collecting outcomes on the job of storing financial documents.
  7. Determine precisely which outcomes are underserved, e.g., where the customer is struggling to get the related job done. This is best accomplished through a quantitative survey.
  8. Add features to your current product that will help customers satisfy their most underserved outcomes and help them get the targeted related job done better.

By focusing on related jobs, a company can almost always discover new opportunities for growth and create lasting value for its customers.

Here are some additional examples of related jobs for a variety of markets:

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Learn more: download a FREE PDF version of Tony Ulwick’s latest Jobs-To-Be-Done book, JOBS TO BE DONE: Theory to Practice.

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