How to Apply Jobs To Be Done to Content Writing

What job is your content hired for? Learn how to apply the JTBD framework to content marketing.

Here is a question: Does your content help people do a job people are hiring it for? Right, people hire content as well as they hire doctors, plumbers, presidents, or software developers. Let's find out why they do it and how you can use it in content marketing. 

What is jobs to be done?

Imagine the world without Google. Where would we go if we needed to know how to buy bitcoin, how to earn money online, or how to delete an Instagram account? We would probably need to learn new skills or hire someone to help us solve our problems. 

The fact that we have Google and other search engines doesn't mean we have fewer problems (or jobs to do). It just means we don't always have to hire someone to solve those problems or do those jobs for us. Instead, we can google. 

Every time we want to improve, evolve, or change our life situation, we have a job to do. 

Jobs to be done (JTBD) is a concept widely applied in design, marketing, and product development to define what the customer hopes to accomplish. Learn more about how it's applied in product development here.

We all have many things we hope to accomplish. They can be as small as getting our work done before noon or as big as getting our first book published. Accomplishing these things isn’t easy. Obstacles and anxieties typically hold us back. We need somebody to help us overcome these obstacles. Products can play this role. When people buy a product, they essentially hire it to help them do a job. And if it does a crummy job, they fire it and look for an alternative. 

Your content is also a product. When you think about it as a solution that helps your readers get a job done, great things happen: your traffic grows, your conversation rates increase, and your marketing starts bringing in profit. When you understand the job for which readers hire your content, every article you publish becomes useful, so people want to read it.

In other words, applying the JTBD framework helps you focus on what your readers need to read and not on what you think you need to write.

How to apply jobs to be done to content

To define a job to be done for your content, you should figure out 3 things:

  1. Your reader’s circumstances  [When _____ ]
  2. Your reader’s problem [I want to _____ ]
  3. The reason why your reader wants to solve it [so I can _____ ].

To describe a job to be done, think about the job in terms of progress and apply the following formula:


[When _____ ] [I want to _____ ] [so I can _____ ].


Jobs to be done should be the foundation of your content strategy, and you need to write them down before you start looking for target keywords and working on the headlines in your content plan. 

But if your content marketing strategy is SEO-driven and you do keyword research prior to analyzing the audience (which is okay), you can also create jobs to be done based on the keywords you choose for your semantic core. 

For example, let’s say you need to write an article that targets the keyword phrase “product-led growth.” How can you describe a job to be done for this keyword phrase? 

First of all, imagine yourself in your reader’s shoes. Why would you be searching for product-led growth? If you haven’t developed empathy for your readers yet, it might be hard for you to describe a job to be done based solely on your intuition. In this case, it’s a good idea to go on Google and analyze top search results for this term. Most of the articles that appear on the first page of Google results for “product-led growth” are focused on explaining what product-led growth is. Reading some of these articles might give you an idea of the jobs your readers want to accomplish.  

After thinking about product-led growth as if you were a reader and doing some research, you can come up with the following JTBD:

When I’m looking at products like Slack, I want to know what tactics they use to make people adopt them so fast so I can use these tactics in my own product.

When you look at your topic through the lens of the reader’s circumstances, you can come up with a JTBD that will make it clear how you should approach the topic. You can also come up with a clickbait headline like this: 

Product-Led Growth: The Secret to Explosive Growth from Slack and Calendly

Let's look at a few more examples.

Examples of jobs to be done for different companies

1. Example 1. Analytics software

A company that sells analytics software to SaaS companies can come up with the following JTBD:

When I have a SaaS product, I want to learn what AARRR metrics are and how to track them, so I can measure and optimize each step of my funnel to hit my desired growth rate.

2. Example 2. E-commerce website development

A company that offers e-commerce website development services can write the following JTBD: 

When I'm about to start an e-commerce business, I want to know what costs are associated with building a website, so I can allocate the right amount of money and plan my business budget.

3. Example 3. Mindfulness lessons

A company that provides mindfulness lessons can write the following JTBD: 

When I am not just busy, but swamped by work and can barely move under the weight of my inbox, I need to do something to prevent burnout so I can handle my day-to-day responsibilities and feel better.

Before you start writing, try to describe your readers’ job to be done. It will help you create the lead that pulls the readers in and write content that helps your readers remove obstacles that are holding them back in their current circumstances.

Next, check out how to understand your reader's needs and align your content with your reader's search intent

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