JTBD and Inbound

Posted on Wednesday, 31. January 2018 in category Growth. 6 min read • Written by

Nopadon Wongpakdee

Thanks for visiting my post! This a brief introductory post on how inbound marketers can utilise “The Strategy of Preeminence” (TSOP) and “Jobs to Be Done” (JTBD) for more meaningful content creation.

This post is aimed at experienced inbound marketers; for those of you who are new to inbound, I’ve created a series of posts, which goes into more detail about the why and how of inbound.

I will be exploring this topic further at inOrbit18, and look forward to meeting you!

As a Growth Hacker in Residence for 500 Startups and EIR for Citi Ventures, I get to work with lots of diverse and interesting companies. Many of these companies have challenges and opportunities which could be solved with inbound. I’m going to talk about the two areas that I come across time and time again.

I’d like to emphasise that all complex issues look quite simplistic on the surface, but when you begin to peel back the layers, they can be quite nuanced.

The two areas that I run into are: truly understanding your client’s goals, and our role in helping them to get there. These two challenges can be better understood using these two very powerful client development frameworks: “The Strategy of Preeminence” (TSOP) and “Jobs to be Done” (JTBD).

  1. Being preeminent (giving information vs. giving helpful advice)
  2. What jobs are your customers trying to get done?

The Strategy of Preeminence: This is a marketing mindset popularised by Jay Abraham, who was a direct marketing pioneer in the 70’s. TSOP is a marketing mindset and it perfectly articulates what many of you have intuitively known for years.

TSOP states: “Preeminence extols, advocates, champions the role of the team member, supplier, prospect or customer… It focuses on the receiver and their best interest. It boils down to: ‘I’m not trying to sell you – I want to serve you.'” – Jay Abraham

It’s about taking a long-term view of your client relationship.

Why are you a customer of your supermarket and a client of your accountant? Your accountant is a trusted advisor and (hopefully) has your best interest at heart and you trust him/her.

How can you earn trusted advisor status with your clients? “Nopadon, our business is an app for on-demand nails, how does this apply to us?” I would ask, “Who do you serve?” and “What are they trying to accomplish?”

  • Are there other on-demand services you can recommend to your clients? “The best on-demand beauty services for busy professionals.”
  • If you don’t service their area, do you provide them with a list of reputable nail salons in their area?
  • Have you ever knowingly recommended a product to clients that you knew wouldn’t be a good fit?

We should always be asking ourselves two questions when creating our lead magnets, nurture streams, and blog posts:

  • “What problems are we going to help them to deal with?”
  • “How would we have the most positive impact on this person we are communicating with?”

When you focus on empathy and your client’s desired outcomes and not just on trying to overcome objections, your content will head down avenues you’ve never even considered.

There is a massive difference in giving someone information vs. giving helpful advice. I have a client who’s an online estate agent. One of the first guides they created was the home sellers’ checklist, with pricing and tips (like how to stage your home). Their guide was preeminent because they weren’t pushing their (online) solution – the guide laid out the pros and cons of selling a home with a traditional agent vs. an online agent and it was quite balanced. Not everyone is going to be comfortable with selling their home online, and utilising a traditional agent may fit some clients’ needs better. They made it a point to be fair and balanced when talking about the alternatives to their solution.

You are helping to provide your clients with focus and clarity. People want to make good, informed decisions. We can help our clients to make good decisions even if it isn’t us! That’s what it means to be a trusted advisor!

The goal is to:

  • Cultivate understanding (help them to become informed);
  • Understanding leads to trust.

To learn more about TSOP watch Jay’s video!

TSOP & JTBD – a Happy Marriage I’m going to jump into another marketing framework, called Jobs to Be Done. This is a very, very high-level overview. If you haven’t heard of Jobs to be Done, I suggest you read Competing Against Luck by Clayton Christensen.

JTBD is a client development tool which focuses more on clients’ underlying motivations than on attributes (marketing personas). Let me give you a quick example…

In the image below, you’ve got two segments which demographically are worlds apart. One is a young Korean female who’s into k-pop and the other is a 40-year-old British mother with 3 kids. The images are worlds apart, but their motivations are the same, it’s a “humble brag”.

With JTBD we are focused on what progress our clients are trying to make in their lives. Sound familiar? Like TSOP, JTBD emphasises viewing the entire client journey. Not where they are now, but where they are trying to get to.

JTBD mapping can help us to see our true competition. We often focus on direct competitors, when in our customer’s minds it is all too often something else.

Example: It’s raining and you take your kids to see a Sunday afternoon film. The job was to keep the kids entertained for the afternoon. There were several ways this could have been satisfied: take them to the park, take them to a sporting event, take them swimming, etc. A theatre might look at other theatres as competition. They might try to compete with other theatres’ concessions, prices, etc. However, in this context, the theatre is actually competing with an outdoor park or swimming. Maybe the theatre might add a play area for kids, or a coffee shop with fast WiFi for parents?

Jobs mapping helps us to:

  1. Find new opportunities for growth/attract new customers;
  2. Gain advantages by understanding the known or unknown purchase drivers.

The Four Forces of JTBD

Four Forces: Describe the forces and how inbound can be used to defeat excuses and inertia.

The JTBD Framework lays out a framework of the forces that are pushing and pulling on our clients when evaluating their options.

I found this beautiful graphic from Kevin C. Kupillas, which illustrates the push and pull.

When our client’s pain is great enough this will prompt them into exploring a solution. Let me give you a personal example. I woke up with back pain, and I thought I should get  rid of my old mattress. I saw an ad for a mattress talking about being “Engineered for optimal sleep”. I recognise that this messaging may not appeal to you, however, the idea of “optimal sleep” really resonates with me. 


As I consider it, the forces of anxiety and inertia begin to push back on me. I start thinking what if this doesn’t work for me? How can I trust this? Then I immediately see “free 100 night trial”. That certainly squashes any anxieties I have about that.

Finally, the inertia and the “habits of the present” begin to sink in. The idea of getting and moving a mattress begins to fill me with dread. I see that it comes in a box; okay, that’s good. I can carry it inside myself. But to get rid of my old mattress I’ll have to call one of my friends to help me drag this thing into the street! In London, you are required by the council to make an appointment for them to come and dispose of the mattress! Forget it, it’s too much of a pain, I’ll just try flipping my mattress.

Then I dig further (I shouldn’t have to do this) and see that they have a pickup service to come and take away my old mattress! What am I waiting for?

The point I want to make is that the purchase anxieties and inertia (habits of the present) are profoundly powerful. People don’t like change, especially when switching is hard work. People have a make-do attitude because it’s easier than risking a solution that doesn’t work for them. It’s perfectly summed up with the old adage “Better the devil you know, than the devil you don’t.”

Inertia (habits of the present): if offerings don’t fit into ingrained behaviour, people won’t switch. You need to defeat excuses! It’s our responsibility to understand our client’s needs and desired outcomes from a functional and emotional level. Only then can we craft nurture streams, guides, and blog posts to overcome the inertia!

Here are some common reasons that lead to purchase anxiety and inertia:

1. Ease of ability to try

2. Lack of knowledge:

  • They don’t know they need it; customers are just used to doing things the old way.

3. Multiple decision makers:

  • Internal stakeholders
  • End users?
  • Financial buyers?
  • Technical buyers?

4. Cost of switching to a new solution:

  • Salesforce

5. High risk: What if it doesn’t work?

6. Unfamiliar categories: Crypto, IOT, etc.

7. Behaviour change requirement: e-commerce penetration in a mostly cash-based society

8. High costs

Several of these issues can be overcome through inbound and content if you take a preeminent and jobs-focused approach.

How can we help our clients to make progress? How can we show them? How can we use thought leadership and education to fight inertia and anxieties? I’ll be diving into these topics as well as showing you how to map jobs in my upcoming talk. I hope to see you at inOrbit18!

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