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Written by David Bernellon
on January 27, 2022

“We need to sell more stuff!!!”

I remember sitting at our global townhall meeting listening carefully to our COO commenting about the quarterly results of our medical technology company. Results of new product launches were pretty good. Then, all of a sudden, our COO stood up and said, “we need to sell more stuff!” The message was simple, clear, unfiltered, and spontaneously sparked enthusiasm and laughter among employees. Hurray! And off we went to sell more stuff!

A PUSH strategy is certainly still of relevance in many businesses, however this example of what happened less than 10 years ago shows how this traditional view of the business has blinders.

Is it time to start looking at your value propositions through the lens of the “Jobs to Be Done”?

The fact is that every year companies in life sciences spend billions in budget to develop and PUSH new products into the market. However, statistics show that many of them fail or largely underperform. One of the explanations about why this happens is that they don’t target the jobs that customers are trying to get done.

Having worked in the medical device and pharmaceutical industries for 20 years, I offer some takeaways for you to consider to successfully identify and drive adoption of innovative technologies in life sciences.

Know what jobs your customers want to get done

The concept of “Jobs to Be Done” (JTBD) was presented by Clayton M. Christensen, a Harvard Business School Professor who labeled JTBD as a theory, in his excellent book, Competing Against Luck (2016). The Jobs theory suggests that “products and technology come and go, but jobs persist over time. As a result, companies integrated around a job can achieve greater market differentiation and success.”

Knowing the job a customer is trying to get done allows companies to sell more and improve their products over time in ways that are relevant to their customers.

A bottom-line understanding about Jobs to Be Done brings much more clarity about why people will and won’t buy your products.

Avoid a “solutions in search of problems” mindset

Medical technology and pharmaceutical industries tend to be blinded by gleaming new scientific or technological breakthroughs, but they often have little to do with the actual Jobs to Be Done by health care practitioners along the way from R&D to the patient. This may lead to a “solutions in search of problems” mindset, in other words, creating a proposal intended to solve a problem that does not really exist.

Crucially, and as mentioned in my recent article (“Customer-centricity in life sciences: 3 golden rules”), life science companies have to shift from being mesmerized by product features and re-focus on customer benefits and their value proposition.

Developing a value proposition in a co-creative and multidisciplinary way helps to bring the customer back to the table.

Make sure your customer has a seat at the table

The value proposition helps to ensure the positioning of your products and services reflect what your prospects and customers actually need and value. After rigorously defining your value proposition, you can generally tell consumers what’s in it for them, or in other words, why they should buy your products and services rather those of your competitors. A value proposition helps make the benefits of your offering crystal clear.

But here’s the rub: the value is in the hands of the beholder. As a result, the process of defining a value proposition often turns into an inward-oriented exercise. It is pointless to have a discussion about value propositions without starting with your customers.

In this context, the Jobs to Be Done framework offers a dynamic and future-proof approach that elevates your focus to what your customers hope to accomplish over time (at a functional, social and emotional level).

Learn more about immersion workshops for Value Proposition and Target Audiences definition.

Gain fundamental insights about your customers

Using the Jobs to Be Done framework helps you gain clarity and understanding about why people will or won’t buy your products. Your market insights should gather qualitative observations and specifically identify the core job and its desired outcomes, not just at a functional level but also at an emotional level.

At UP, we believe that a deep understanding of the customer is essential to designing effective marketing communications. This is why every project starts with a comprehensive brief and an audit phase,  and why UP has an integrated, full-service marketing research offering.

Learn more about UP LAB and our in-house full function research capabilities.

Success is not final: value propositions have a life cycle

Value proposition and Jobs to Be Done are approaches that work in tandem.

Jobs to Be Done offers a dynamic approach that elevates your reasoning to focus on what your customers broadly hope to accomplish over time. Value propositions help you develop the right messaging to address the Jobs to Be Done.

Keep in mind that value propositions have a life cycle. So, don’t let your success today turn into complacency tomorrow. Customer buying cycles and the competitive landscape evolve over time. As a result, the definition of value proposition and Jobs to Be Done should be seen as iterative processes that ultimately should become routinely integrated in business planning.

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