- In a land not far from here people are thirsty. And a message is repeated in mass media: for people who enjoy life, there is always a particular little bottle with carbonated cola water.
- The wonders of industrial production allow that, whenever we feel we need to drink something, the same small bottle is at hand, practically everywhere: stores, supermarkets or vending machines.
- Thus it is that we choose to accompany some moments of our lifes drinking the contents of such a bottle.
- And we feel the satisfaction of satiating our thirst and a slight blow of dopamine - related to the memory, almost subconscious of that television commercial.
Fifty years ago, semiotics reached a conclusion similar to one that is settling in management sciences. To understand a narrative, it was not useful to focus on the subject or the object of action, but rather on the plot. Subjects and objects contribute to this understanding to the extent that they play a role in it.
Likewise, to better understand a business, focusing on the product or the clients tends to lead us to blind alleys and leave us vulnerable to disruption. What we should do, instead is devote ourselves to studying the Job-To-Be-Done or, the progress that our clients want to achieve in their lives, which they would want to "hire" our product or service for.
That half century of advantage the science of signs has on us, may still provide some lessons to apply to the analysis of the Job To Be Done.
Currently, the tool par-excellence for Job-To-Be-Done research is the Job-To-Be-Done Interviews, perfected by Bob Moesta and The Rewired Group team. And the information-gathering tools traditionally used in business are still supported — including by Prof. Clayton Christensen, perhaps the main proponent of JTBD theory.
Where Semiotics can help us is in giving a structure to all this information. Supported by the Canonical Narrative Schema (CNS) of A. J. Greimas, we can write the history of our clients and map the customer journey, from when the need first manifests itself until they find their satisfaction.
If the Job-To-Be-Done is a narrative, then these are its components:
- Manipulation: (without any pejorative connotation) where it is established that the client wants and or has-to do a Job.
- Competence: (without any meliorative connotation, either) where it is established that the client meets the necessary requirements to do her Job, namely: that she knows-how-to do it and that she is-able-to do it.
- Performance: this is where the client actually performs the Job.
- Sanction: where it is evaluated if the Job was carried out successfully, and retribution is dealt, if applicable.
This model, largely corresponds to the See-Think-Do-Care framework promoted by Avinash Kaushik, but with an important difference. In our scheme, the central moment of Performance or Do does not contain the conversion or purchase. The acquisition of the product or service occurs in the Competence stage, and with this, your client obtains the know-how and/or the ability-to-do what he needs.
In practice, what the Canonical Narrative Scheme presupposes — in the face of the Avinash Kaushik framework and others such as the Marketing Funnel — is an extension of the object of study that emphasizes the centrality of the Job-To-Be-Done. Consequently, we will need to implement a similarly expanded system of metrics.
Going back to the example that started this article, we could measure the success in each stage of the soft drink business in the following way:
- Manipulation: Reach: how many millions of people saw our ad. Frequency: How many times each of them saw it. CPM: How much did it cost us. Surveys of priming and word association.
- Competition: How many points of sale we have touched with our product. What is the rotation of our product, per month. How much income does this generate? How efficient is our production process.
- Performance: Perhaps this stage can only be measured through surveys, interviews and ethnographic observations. We are interested in knowing the specific circumstances of consumption of our drink and the frequency. To what extent do these circumstances of use correspond to those illustrated in our advertisements?
- Sanction: How many instances can we find of people publicly sharing moments in their lives when our brand is present? Do they look happy?
Such systematization of the Customer Journey, will also help us appreciate that the Job-To-Be-Done and the strategy of a business are two sides of the same coin that inform each other.
In the case of our soda business, it is not a cost-strategy or low-end-disruption, they do not offer the largest drink at the lowest price. Nor is it a new-market-disruption, for you will be hard pressed to find any non-consumption in our soft-beverages drinking world.
On the other hand, it does seem to be a differentiation strategy aimed at a higher segment of the market via sustaining innovations . to the product, an improvement: that is to associate the drink with the enjoyment of life, and with that, it appeals to more sophisticated and profitable consumers.
This article first appeared in Spanish in El Blog de la Anti Agencia.