Creating content for Jobs-to-be-Done

Educating customers comes down to two basic principles: 1. Teach them how to use your product, and 2. Teach them how to get results.

As with the Jobs to be Done framework for products, this gives gravity to the job and reduces the importance of the industry you’re in, the competitors you deal with, and the personas you sell to.

Customers rarely make buying decisions around what the “average” customer in their category may do — but they often buy things because they find themselves with a problem they would like to solve.

With an understanding of the “job” for which customers find themselves “hiring” a product or service, companies can more accurately develop and market products well-tailored to what customers are already trying to do.

People hire information as well. It’s the reason we buy books, it’s the reason we spend time reading blog posts, even if they are free.

Content obviously allows for a few exceptions–the “follow our journey,” the creative use of tools and side projects, the viral lift of a popular opinion piece on the company blog–all can be used to attract new prospects.

But the bread and butter is still figuring out the jobs-to-be-done by readers and future customers (hint: they should be one in the same).

Defining Jobs-to-be-Done

Because this essay only seeks to introduce the JTBD framework to content, I’ll keep it short and sweet by giving you a few examples and letting you go back to your day–what you’ll hopefully walk away with is food for thought.

At Help Scout, I’ve made the mistake in the past of operating around the “customer service” or “customer loyalty” category. But what customers hire Help Scout to do is a bit different than that.

Knowing these jobs helps me address principle #2 by helping them get results. A few examples:

  • Getting to inbox zero without losing the personal touch. A question we hear quite often, “How can we use Help Scout to manage our queue without turning support into an impersonal ticket-churning machine?”
  • Making informed decisions about how support is doing, and what they could be doing better. Support managers in particular struggle with this, and want to know how to make meaningful decisions about their team’s performance (without breathing down their neck).
  • Scaling their support with helpful content so that it’s available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We’ve had so many new customers join Help Scout Docs that this latest job will definitely be addressed in our upcoming blog posts.

These struggles and many more form their “educational jobs,” or things they will gladly hire information to do. I need to give them that information, and help make no-brainer connections to our product.

In short, your content strategy forms around the behavior you get — you don’t decide what the job is, you have to figure out what your customers are already struggling with and then “build” (i.e., write) the solution. Pro tip: few jobs are solved by round-up posts.

I’ve learned more about content strategy from talking with our product and support teams than I have reading the silly shit that appears on most marketing sites.

Go make friends with the product team, go buy drinks for the support team, and start creating content around “jobs” and not around “what’s hot in our industry.”

About the author: Gregory Ciotti is a marketer and (embarrassingly infrequent) writer. Previously, he led content marketing on Shopify’s growth team and was executive editor on the communications team.