Claire Suellentrop: Using JTBD in Your Copy

Typically, when software companies write up their homepage, features page, or pricing page, they use messages and words their internal team is accustomed to using – but often, those words mean very little to their customers, users or prospects. Then they wonder why it’s so hard to acquire new customers.

In this talk, Claire explains why this doesn’t work and offer you some straightforward pointers to help you use JTBD – a framework to help you understand what your customers want to achieve – to write in a way that resonates with your ideal customers.


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Claire Suellentrop
Hi, everyone. Thanks for being here. Thanks for having me BoS team. Let me share my screen and make sure I’ve got this all set up properly. This session is something that was very much positioned as being about copy and copywriting. And that is true. But before we zoom into the copywriting piece, specifically, I want to discuss how uncovering your customers jobs to be done, can actually help you make more strategic decisions about where you invest your time and resources in your marketing overall. Because copy is just one piece of that.

Okay, so my cursor is working. So I want to start at this higher level because when my business partner and I are typically in initial conversations with SaaS founders or SaaS exec teams, copywriting isn’t often what they have in mind as the solution to a growth problem.

Typically, we start our conversations with these challenges…

Show of hands, has anyone ever said this about their company or their product? I’m seeing some hands. Yeah. Right. So top of funnel, we need help with acquisition, we need more traffic. For everyone who raised their hand and said, yes, we’ve had that problem before, you’re definitely not alone. These are very valid concerns to have when you’re thinking about what to do next to hit the next big revenue milestone that you’re aiming for. But even though this idea of top of funnel challenges is the number one reason we’re typically contacted or begin conversations with SaaS teams, most of the time, we discover that this really isn’t the silver bullet that they are assuming it is. Most of the time, the company’s website traffic volume is actually pretty healthy. The number of leads or free signups they’re getting is honestly not that bad. And what we usually find out is the universe of people coming to check out their product or their offering is not the problem. The problem is often that when people get there, when they get to your website, or they sign up for something that you’re offering, that’s really where things start to break down more frequently from what we see. And that’s really, for a lot of companies where their biggest opportunity for revenue growth is.

As you mentioned, Mark, you can kind of can almost begin to see when a company has uncovered its customers core jobs to be done and apply those learnings. Because before a company has done that, typically what we’ll see is that the team, the people who wrote the homepage, or wrote the onboarding emails for a product or design your products signup experience, those folks are often used to using one set of words and messages to describe what you offer. But we find out that those words and messages that the team uses, actually tend to mean very little to potential customers. And that’s where the jobs can be done framework becomes really useful here.

So this session is not necessarily going to be about copywriting best practices or tips and tricks. What this is really about is giving you a way to figure out are is our challenge really about driving more people driving more traffic? Or is our challenge actually that the messages and words we’re using aren’t resonating with the people who are finding out about our offering today? So in other words, do you have an acquisition problem truly, or do you actually have a product marketing problem? So while copy, copywriting tips and tricks are important, and very valuable, you can think about this blueprint being the foundation. And then copywriting Tips and Tricks get layered on top of that. So I always give a major shout out to Copy Hackers, who has spoken at past rounds of BoS, she’s the queen of copy. So I’m not going to try to I’m not going to try to imitate perfection.

So with that said, to quickly give some context on who I am and why, why I’m here. So my name is Claire Suellentrop. I am the co founder and CEO of forget the funnel. We’re a boutique growth consulting group and we help SaaS teams go from ad hoc experiments that help them gain early traction to actually putting systems in place for sustainable growth. So we have worked with a ton of wonderful SaaS companies over the years. I primarily bring customer research and insights expertise to our partnership. And then my co founder Gia brings expertise in taking those customer insights and actually translating them into growth strategies that impact revenue. So that’s where we’re coming from.

Several hairstyles ago, I spoke at BoS 2018, I encountered some technical issues that led to tech support from Bob Moesta and also a doppelganger of Keanu Reeves.

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Mark Littlewood
It’s not a doppelganger. It’s actually Keanu Reeves. And this is what he does for fun. He’s really nice guy.

Claire Suellentrop
I was I was trying to keep his anonymity, but we’ll just let it go. So yeah, this is probably the most memorable presentation I’ve ever given. It was also the first time I was speaking about jobs to be done with one of the creators of the framework in the room. So very nerve wracking.

Okay, so with that out of the way, let’s actually get into what we’re here for, which is that blueprint for figuring out whether you have a marketing channels and traffic problem, or whether you have a messaging and copy problem.

So when we work with SaaS companies to figure this out, we typically go through these five steps of defining who the ideal customer is, uncovering those ideal customer’s job to be done and prioritising one, and then actually auditing the customer’s experience walking in their shoes. And identifying where the experience with this product or this company misses the mark in what they what they say their their core job to be done is versus what the company is saying, what the marketing messages are saying. Bridging the gaps is where you actually start to plug those holes and see results.

So I’m actually going to throughout this conversation referenced a company called LifeLapse. LifeLapse is aq company we worked with a couple of years ago. And I think their story is helpful for making these concepts a bit more concrete. Because we followed those exact steps. LifeLapse is a self serve and kind of a combination of b2c and b2b product. But everything that were those five steps I’m describing, they perfectly applied to true b2b as well or a less self serve higher touch experience. So the fact that they’re b2c does not limit this process from being effective. So when we were working with LifeLapse, they were already seeing 1000s of free signups monthly. But many of those signups were people wanting to use LifeLapse for personal use cases. So LifeLapse allows you to quickly make fun, stop motion videos and post them to Instagram. So a lot of their free users were using it for a one off reason, like they might be creating like a happy birthday video for a loved one or documenting a pregnancy. So these, these b2c users weren’t often converting from free to paid. And they weren’t very sticky, because they had such one off use cases. So the CEO reached out to us because she believed there was greater opportunity in pursuing b2b use cases with the idea that they would be a stickier audience, they’d be more willing to pay for the value and so on. So when she came to us, she was in the classic, we need to get in front of more b2b users mindset. So she was thinking, hey, this team can help me with a PR strategy to get in front of more like potential b2b customers that can help me figure out what influencers to partner with etc.

That said, we began the process by saying, let’s back up on marketing channels you could use, and let’s actually understand what this experience was like for those ideal customers who already have and see if we can reverse engineer success. So we worked with her to define LifeLapse’s ideal customer, which means the ones who were highly engaged, right, so they had adopted it into a regular workflow. They hadn’t paid once and forgotten they had subscribed. They began paying fairly recently so that they would still have the buying journey details fresh in their mind. And then they were also the the primary champion during the buying process. So we weren’t trying to speak to people who, you know, maybe maybe someone on their team purchased this product for them and said, okay, hey, everyone, we’re going to use this now. We were trying to get we were trying to get in the heads of people who felt the problem LifeLapse solves and sought a solution for themselves. Now, for some companies, there might be more specific criteria. If you’re you’re targeting a particular geographic region, you might want to tailor your your research to just that region, there are other criteria that can come into play. But these first three are the most common ones that we lean on to define ideal customers for our company.

So we conducted the jobs to be done research to uncover, you know, the struggles that pushed these ideal customers to seek something like LifeLapse, and what features and attributes were most important to them as they looked around, and how their life improved, like what was their desired outcome? How were things better now that they found LifeLapse. I’m not going to go deep into interview strategy because Adrienne already ran a fantastic breakout session on that topic. If it’s useful for anyone, I do have a particular set of interview questions that I lean on when I’m running interviews and a quick email script to invite customers to interviews. So if anyone wants this resource, I can send you the deck and you can grab the link from there. We won’t focus as much on interview strategy, because I recognise that’s already been covered in a previous session today.

Once you have conducted that research, though, and you have a sense of the series of jobs to be done, that your ideal customers have exhibited, right, like, why did they seek out your product in the first place? Then you’re going to have this really interesting decision making point at which it’s time to figure out okay, which of these is actually the biggest, like business opportunity for us?

So, who here can I get a show of hands of who in the past has conducted jobs research or, you know, defined jobs to be done for a particular offering or product? Okay, so we’ve got Mark got Jed, Vesna, okay, perfect. So, Steven, I saw you raise your hand too. So I’m curious how this has played out for you. But typically, when we’re working with a team, we see two to three most common jobs kind of bubbled up to the surface. And so we then get to have a discussion with the CEO, or whoever the decision maker is on which one makes the most sense. And we typically lean on this kind of checklists as a way to vet which of this might be most advantageous for us to focus on.

You typically want to be aiming to solve the job of people who understands the problem you solve, and they know that they’re experiencing it personally. They’re willing to pay for value, you know, light support burden, if any. High retention and upsell potential. It’s especially helpful if they congregate or group up in ways you can target. When I say congregate in ways you can target, sometimes you’ll find that for pursuing a b2b use case, for example, many of LifeLapse’s customers are creator, business owners, they sell jewellery, or they sell online courses. And there’s definitely a creator community of people on the internet, there are creator influencers. So that’s one way that we made the decision to prioritise this particular job to be done for LifeLapse.

I’ll show the other one that we decided not to prioritise. This is the one we did not choose. When I’m about to start creating content for a project for the first time help me start creating that content that I’ve just begun working on so I can begin driving interest in engagement with my project. My writing here was a little clunky, 2022 Claire would go back to 2019 Claire and clean it up a bit, but that’s okay.

We decided not to prioritise this particular job to be done as we thought about LifeLapse’s opportunities because this represented a newbie use case. So people adopting LifeLapse for this reason were just vetting whether, social media and creating content around a particular offering was worth their time. They were going from doing nothing to experimenting with this for the first time. So they’re quite a bit more beginner. Generally, we decided that they weren’t as viable to focus on as those who had been promoting a brand or a product for a while.

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So this second group of people had been using social media content to drive awareness of their product, to engage with their audience already. They’d already been on social. They understood how social worked. They were used to paying for tools for business tools to manage social like scheduling tools and things like that.

So given that they already were were bought in on the idea that creating social media content could help with their business. And the fact that they were willing to pay for tools to leverage social media, our thinking was okay, they’re going to be more likely to be okay paying for a tool that creates this stop motion animation content for them.

Anyway, before I keep going on any questions about the decision making process between those two, I’m happy to chat about this in more like workshop format, if that’s helpful. Cool, I’m gonna keep rolling on. But if at any point that would be helpful, stop and discuss a question. Just raise hands. And definitely let me know.

So we had that more business focused audience, bought in on social media, who want to create more engaging content than previously job to be done in mind.

We audited the entire experience of finding and signing up for LifeLapse. From those customer’s point of view. So we looked at any advertising that LifeLapse was running currently. We looked at their listing page in the Apple Store. In the Google Play Store. We looked at the homepage. We signed up for the product, went through the the onboarding experience, receive the onboarding emails that were going out at the time. Essentially, what we were doing was trying to identify the the friction points that someone might run into, if they had that job to be done in their mind’s eye – if they were looking to create more engaging social media content than they had been previously.

Did the website really explain that’s what they would get out of this product? Did the onboarding experience introduce them to the features that would help them do that really quickly? This is just a quick example of what that audit was like.

This was the previous hero of LifeLapse homepage. And you can see in the header, shoot stop motion videos up to 10 times faster. The focus here is on speed. Right. Okay, so speed as like a main value add is is the core focus of the messaging originally. The next section down actually was a link to an ecommerce shop in case you wanted to buy a tripod or a light kit to improve the quality of your of your videos. The next section down, focuses again on speed here. So in this section of the previous homepage, you can see on the left, that there’s a comparison of a video that was made with very fancy professional camera gear, it took a long time, it costs a lot of money. And then there’s a comparison video showing that LifeLapse can help you do this in a way that’s super fast. So we’re leaning into a lot of speed. And I’m not really sure what this is improve the quality of your videos, I guess. So we then compare that to what did our ideal customers say they were struggling with? And what words did they use when we were doing this research?

Are we addressing the struggle that they name in the research? Do we highlight the attributes? Like our benefits that they’re they’re going to most understand is tied to their motivation and their desired outcome? Are we even speaking their language like are we using the words that they’re using?

This is where the copy piece really comes in. And where we were able to bridge the gap between LifeLapse’s old messaging and copy versus messaging and copy that was more aligned with their ideal customers. So this is a screenshot of a summary of the research that we did. And the everything you’re seeing in blue are words and phrases directly from those ideal customers. And you can see that when they were describing what triggered them to search for a new solution. They were looking for a new way to create content, they wanted to create something more exciting and eye catching photos that come to life. Creative. So we’re seeing a lot of language around I want to improve my content.

There’s nothing in here around speed of creating content, or the need to do it quickly. So we proposed a new hero section. We didn’t change the design in any way of the homepage. We just changed the copy. So we propose a new hero that said increase engagement on social with stop motion. This idea of increasing engagement based on this like more eye catching content that you’re creating with this tool. Bring your brand to life with beautiful eye catching videos. All of that is from customers mountains the idea of bringing photos to life we pulled from our research. Beautiful eye catching videos we pulled from the research, learn film and share your first video in under seven mminutes. I’m going to come back to that in a moment.

In terms of what mattered to folks during their search, everything was ease of use. It has to be quick for me to use. I don’t want to spend a bunch of time learning a new tool. So clearly focusing on ease of use was important here.

And we had to figure out, okay, what, what features does LifeLapse offer that make it so easy to use? How do we prove that, rather than just saying, Oh, it’s easy to use?

Something that we found out was, people really got it. They really were like, Oh, this is going to work for me, when they got into the app, and they found this amazing library of tutorials that taught them really quickly, here’s how to get up to speed with stop motion. Here’s some inspiration. Here’s some examples. And this library of tutorials is actually what created that feeling of like ease and quick onboarding. So we highlighted that on the new homepage, we’ve got new to stop motion, no problem, we’ve got you covered with an in app Academy. So we’re showing off these unique features of LifeLapse. And how they create that ease of use. We also recommended a section that was much more about, hey, here’s the business case for using this product. It can increase engagement, close more sales, etc, etc.

None of this business focused language existed on the original homepage. It was much more focused on consumer use cases. So we launched this new homepage with the LifeLapse team. And we wait about a month and a half to check in on what the what progress looks like, how is this performing?

After 50 days, we saw a 93% increase in website visitors signing up. So almost doubled. And what’s especially notable about that is the website visit to New User signup rate previously was pretty good. A 9-10% signup rate is for something that is receiving as high volume of traffic as LifeLapse was was is actually very impressive. And we nearly doubled that. And again, this was with not a single additional dollar spent on PR or additional ad campaigns, we just changed how LifeLapse was speaking to the visitors already showing up.

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And again, this was not as a result of just copywriting tips or best practices, but the foundation was understanding what is that job to be done? And from that learning, how can we adapt our messaging, right?

The CEO came to us thinking, we have an acquisition problem, we need to get in front of more of our ideal customers. And after a few discussions and some research, it was clear that messaging and copy was really where the opportunity was here. So we lifted that from customers themselves, and increased again, what was already a pretty healthy conversion rate. So I’ve kind of sped through this because I know we’ve only got 30 minutes, I would be happy to go to q&a, if that’s useful. And I know we’ve got a breakout session coming up for this as well. So we can go a bit deeper dive in there. For now, because this playing over and over is really visually distracting. I’m just gonna go to the final slide because it’s static. So I again, I’m super open to questions or discussion at this point.

Jed Brooke-Williams
When you found out that folks would prefer things to be easy, easier to use, was that a jobs to be done interview? Or was that collating a feedback form way of doing that?

Claire Suellentrop
That’s a very good question. So with LifeLapse, we did a combination of surveys and interviews. Um, so it came from both. And when I say surveys, we weren’t getting this information from reviews that people had been leaving organically. We deliberately asked folks when you know, what was most important in our survey, we an interview, we asked what was most important to you, as you were looking for a solution like LifeLapse? And so the volunteer like the the answer that people volunteered was, I just needed something super easy to use. I didn’t want to learn complicated, you know, photo editing video editing software.

So I hope that’s helpful in terms of source of customer data?

Claire Suellentrop

Claire Suellentrop

co-Founder & COO, Forget the Funnel

Claire has spent 10 years helping SaaS companies go from startup to scale-up by turning customer insights to fuel revenue-generating marketing & growth programs. 

She’s worked with bootstrapped founders, VC and PE backed teams and global corporate teams including Wistia, MeetEdgar, Death to the Stock Photo and many other fun SaaS companies. She’s passionate about demonstrating the impact of adopting a customer-led approach to business growth.

Before co-founding Forget the Funnel, Claire was Director of Marketing and #2 employee at Calendly.

Check out other talks by Claire here.

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