Product Positioning – Telling Customers What Job Your Product Should Be Hired For

A powerful marketing metaphor introduced by Clayton Christensen, author of Innovator’s Dillemma and Professor at HBS, is looking at customer need as job to be done. The complementing part is to look at your product as something customers hire to get that job done.

As an aside, I should note here that Customer Job To Be Done is a strategic marketing framework and not operational one. You should avoid that devolving into “time and motion” like studies. And to a large extent this is not new, studying customers in their “natural environments” has been practiced by many of the CPG companies (P&G and Unilever) for decades.

Finding customer job to be done is only part of the marketing puzzle. When you study customers  you will surface many unmet needs and many different ways they fill those needs (or not fill). Your task is to determine which job or jobs your product is most suited for, has competitive advantage over any other option and will help maximize your profit.

The profit component is non-negotiable – after all if the customers are not willing to pay for getting their job done why bother delivering a product? And that is where Product Positioning comes in.

Yes you identified customer job, designed product that fills that need far better than others and that job pays well too but you are not done yet. You need to tell the customer explicitly what job you want your product to be hired for. Product Positioning is making it explicit to the customer what exact job/jobs they should hire your product for.

If you do not do not positioning your product you run the risk of

  1. Customers deciding on their own and for a job you did not have want it to be hired for
  2. Your competitors will do it for you and yes to your utter disadvantage
  3. Media and “mavens” will do it for you and often incorrectly – even the most friendly media can do harm by positioning your product incorrectly

On the other hand, actively managing Product Positioning and effectively communicating to customers the job your product is best suited for, you get to control the price you can charge for it and hence your profit.

So take control. Don’t stop with uncovering customer jobs, tell them exactly where your product fits.

Do your customers know what job your product should be hired for?

3 thoughts on “Product Positioning – Telling Customers What Job Your Product Should Be Hired For

  1. I agree with this post but finding the right group of people who need you services you provide is the hard part. for example the product I have in the market is geared to small business people and start-ups which can be very hard to get in front of


  2. This is an old fashioned idea and not supported by brain research. In fact, most (all?) of the behavior around this stuff is largely inarticulate and unconscious.

    It is a sales-based and not evidence-based view that verbally making things explicit is useful. Econ is also based on this obsolete idea.

    Metaphors are just story telling and generally story telling is a waste of time – for marketers. HBS, BTW, is the center of business story telling. It’s useless.


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