Use Job Stories to Get Inside Your Buyers' Heads

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Dan McDermott
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14 min Read
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Why Many People Struggle With Outreach

A cartoon bird working on a laptop looking frustrated  -Vouris Images

There's a funny gap that many people face when they sit down to write cold emails to prospects. Despite having a clear value prop, a clear buyer's persona, a list of people to contact, and a bunch of supporting sales/marketing material....the cold email doesn't write itself. 

The problem is, none of these things actually gives you a specific, focused angle to write a strong cold email from. That's why - despite all this preparation - many companies still send out vague, weak messages. When you don't have a specific starting point, you still end up with blank page syndrome. 

Let's get even more clear. Many people use a value prop as inspiration. Value props often look like this:

We help [PERSONA] accomplish [GOAL] by [METHOD/PRODUCT/SERVICE]. 

Value props like these are great for situations when people come to you. Imagine someone at a party or a conference walking up to you and ask, "So, what do you do?". A value prop could be a great response:

I help renewable energy companies make better decisions with my energy analytics platform.

OK, easy to understand, right? 

The problem is, value props are good for responding, not great for initiating. 

Sticking with the same example here, the average (weak) cold email for this company might look like this:

Hi Steve, 

Do you want to make better decisions for your renewable energy company?

That's what my platform does....

Better decisions? That phrase looked great in our value prop, but it's suddenly a vague, general term in our cold email.  

This email isn't going to be rescued by clever formatting, adjusting word count, or any other tactic. We have a fundamental problem with our starting point here! 

The answer is to get away from value propositions and instead use "job stories". 

The Power of Job Stories

Understanding the Jobs to be Done Methodology

Job stories come from The Jobs To Be Done (JTBD) methodology. JTBD is a way to approach customers from an empathetic and emotional level, recognizing that people don't "buy" products and services simply to own them - they "hire" products and services to solve a specific "job" that they're dealing with right now. 

For example, I recently put a small hole in my wall while moving furniture. I suddenly had a job to be done - return my wall to a normal condition. I "hired" spackle, paint, sandpaper, and a putty knife to help me do the "job". 

The Jobs To Be Done methodology is a great way to zoom in to very specific, focused, and often timely problems that your customers face. It's not just "what do my customers need?", it's "when do they need it and why?".

JTBD also help you get inside your buyers' heads by using their language, thoughts, and feelings. Instead of always looking for logical answers buried in some data set, the Jobs To Be Done methodology encourages you to explore the emotional and sometimes irrational reasons why buy make their decisions to buy (or not buy). 

By focusing on the jobs your product or service can do for your customers, you can create messaging that resonates on a deeper level.

Job Stories vs. Value Props

While value propositions are effective for internal strategy and website copy, they can fall short when it comes to outbound messaging. Job stories, on the other hand, shift the focus to the customer's voice and perspective. 

Here's what a value prop template looks like again: We help [PERSONA] accomplish [GOAL] by [METHOD/PRODUCT/SERVICE]. 

Here's what a job story template looks like: When [SITUATION], I want to [MOTIVATION], so that [DESIRED OUTCOME]. 

The key difference between the two is that a value proposition is written in your company's voice while a job story is written in your customer's voice. It's a small shift with huge implications. 

Another important difference is that job stories use a specific moment (the [SITUATION]) to add a timing element to the statement. Knowing exactly when to contact your prospects can make an incredible difference in the success of your sales efforts. 

The ChatGPT Workflow

At the time of writing this article, AI writing tools still can't produce polished copy. 

But, AI tools like ChatGPT and Claude can offer incredibly powerful strategic help. I use ChatGPT to run through a simple six-step workflow that'll create and rank multiple job stories for your company. 

These job stories won't create magical cold emails for you out of thin air, but they can help you hone in on a much more focused angle. This should make it easier for you to create much more focused, more effective cold emails. 

Here's the workflow: 

Step #1: Define Your Persona and Value Prop

A cartoon bird with a thought bubble that has a boy image inside. -Vouris Images

First, define your target persona and value proposition. This will provide the foundation for your messaging and guide your communication strategy. 

If you don't have this handy, you can also ask ChatGPT for help with a simple prompt like:

My company's website is [URL]. Based on this, what do you think our value proposition is and who do we serve?

This should give you a clear persona and value prop.  

Step #2: Use ChatGPT to Generate Ideas

Vouris cartoon bird with 5 idea lightbulbs -Vouris Images

Next, it's time to use ChatGPT to produce a bunch of different - but highly specific - job stories. You can use this prompt: 

"Imagine a B2B SaaS company [Company Name] with the following value proposition and target audience:

Value Proposition: [Describe the key service or product offering and its primary benefits.]

Target Audience: [Define the specific group of businesses or professionals the company aims to serve.]

Based on this, create five job stories for the company, focusing on how its product or service addresses specific scenarios and needs of the target audience. Each job story should follow this format: '

When [specific situation or challenge faced by the target audience], I want to [what they want to achieve or the action they want to take], so that I can [desired outcome or benefit].'

After creating the job stories, evaluate and rank them based on their impact and relevance to the target audience. Explain your reasoning for the ranking, focusing on factors such as the universality of the need, the potential impact on the customer's business, and the emotional resonance of the story. End your response by summarizing how these job stories collectively showcase the value of [Company Name] to its target audience."

Step #3: Rank and Evaluate the Job Stories

Vouris cartoon bird looking at checkboxes with checks and crosses -Vouris Images

Once you have generated a list of job stories with this prompt, ChatGPT will also rank the stories in order of what it thinks is most compelling to the reader. This might not always be a perfect description of your situation, but it's worth reading the AI analysis for each job. 

Here's what that looks like in ChatGPT:

Step #4: Identify Your Trigger Events

Once you have a strong job story that you'd like to use, ask yourself if it'd be easy to build a list around the "when" part of the statement. If you can find a clear trigger event that signals the specific moment that's described in your job story, you have something tangible to work with! 

Here's an example of a trigger event:

Remember the example of the renewable energy analytics company from earlier? If one of their job stories was:

When a renewable energy company faces fluctuating energy outputs from their solar farms due to varying weather conditions, they want to analyze and predict energy production levels accurately, so that they can optimize energy distribution and reduce waste.

...then, the "trigger event" in this example would be "varying weather conditions" that might screw up a solar farm's performance. 

So, let's say the Midwest is hit with a series of tornados or the East Coast goes through a major blizzard. Once adverse weather conditions happen, we might have a highly relevant email campaign ready to go!

Other trigger events could be company alerts, new hires, funding rounds, and pretty much anything that's "searchable". 

Step #5: Building a Targeted List

Once you've got a strong job story with a searchable trigger event, build your list! Based on the trigger events you have identified, you can build a targeted list of prospects who are likely to resonate with your messaging at a specific moment in time. 

This is as simple as prepping your lists and keeping them organized, so that you're ready to send the right message at the right time!

Step #6: Writing Compelling Copy

With all the groundwork laid out, it's time to start writing your emails. Stay focused on the "job" that you're trying to help your prospects "do" and you should create a strong, focused message.

If you'd like to learn more about our cold email copywriting rules and frameworks, check out this video:

Ready to Get Started?

Combining the power of job stories and this ChatGPT workflow can significantly improve the quality and effectiveness of your messaging. By understanding your buyer's needs and motivations, you'll immediately level up the "starting points" for your writing.

You'll create better emails, quicker and easier. 

If you'd like more sales resources, download our collection here: 

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About The Author

Dan McDermott

Dan McDermott, our Chief Marketing Officer, is a seasoned copywriter and strategist who has helped over 500 businesses carve out a competitive edge. With a career spanning nearly 20 years, Dan has fine-tuned the art of developing compelling messaging that accentuates a business's strengths, setting it apart from competitors.

Why Many People Struggle With Outreach

A cartoon bird working on a laptop looking frustrated  -Vouris Images

There's a funny gap that many people face when they sit down to write cold emails to prospects. Despite having a clear value prop, a clear buyer's persona, a list of people to contact, and a bunch of supporting sales/marketing material....the cold email doesn't write itself. 

The problem is, none of these things actually gives you a specific, focused angle to write a strong cold email from. That's why - despite all this preparation - many companies still send out vague, weak messages. When you don't have a specific starting point, you still end up with blank page syndrome. 

Let's get even more clear. Many people use a value prop as inspiration. Value props often look like this:

We help [PERSONA] accomplish [GOAL] by [METHOD/PRODUCT/SERVICE]. 

Value props like these are great for situations when people come to you. Imagine someone at a party or a conference walking up to you and ask, "So, what do you do?". A value prop could be a great response:

I help renewable energy companies make better decisions with my energy analytics platform.

OK, easy to understand, right? 

The problem is, value props are good for responding, not great for initiating. 

Sticking with the same example here, the average (weak) cold email for this company might look like this:

Hi Steve, 

Do you want to make better decisions for your renewable energy company?

That's what my platform does....

Better decisions? That phrase looked great in our value prop, but it's suddenly a vague, general term in our cold email.  

This email isn't going to be rescued by clever formatting, adjusting word count, or any other tactic. We have a fundamental problem with our starting point here! 

The answer is to get away from value propositions and instead use "job stories". 

The Power of Job Stories

Understanding the Jobs to be Done Methodology

Job stories come from The Jobs To Be Done (JTBD) methodology. JTBD is a way to approach customers from an empathetic and emotional level, recognizing that people don't "buy" products and services simply to own them - they "hire" products and services to solve a specific "job" that they're dealing with right now. 

For example, I recently put a small hole in my wall while moving furniture. I suddenly had a job to be done - return my wall to a normal condition. I "hired" spackle, paint, sandpaper, and a putty knife to help me do the "job". 

The Jobs To Be Done methodology is a great way to zoom in to very specific, focused, and often timely problems that your customers face. It's not just "what do my customers need?", it's "when do they need it and why?".

JTBD also help you get inside your buyers' heads by using their language, thoughts, and feelings. Instead of always looking for logical answers buried in some data set, the Jobs To Be Done methodology encourages you to explore the emotional and sometimes irrational reasons why buy make their decisions to buy (or not buy). 

By focusing on the jobs your product or service can do for your customers, you can create messaging that resonates on a deeper level.

Job Stories vs. Value Props

While value propositions are effective for internal strategy and website copy, they can fall short when it comes to outbound messaging. Job stories, on the other hand, shift the focus to the customer's voice and perspective. 

Here's what a value prop template looks like again: We help [PERSONA] accomplish [GOAL] by [METHOD/PRODUCT/SERVICE]. 

Here's what a job story template looks like: When [SITUATION], I want to [MOTIVATION], so that [DESIRED OUTCOME]. 

The key difference between the two is that a value proposition is written in your company's voice while a job story is written in your customer's voice. It's a small shift with huge implications. 

Another important difference is that job stories use a specific moment (the [SITUATION]) to add a timing element to the statement. Knowing exactly when to contact your prospects can make an incredible difference in the success of your sales efforts. 

The ChatGPT Workflow

At the time of writing this article, AI writing tools still can't produce polished copy. 

But, AI tools like ChatGPT and Claude can offer incredibly powerful strategic help. I use ChatGPT to run through a simple six-step workflow that'll create and rank multiple job stories for your company. 

These job stories won't create magical cold emails for you out of thin air, but they can help you hone in on a much more focused angle. This should make it easier for you to create much more focused, more effective cold emails. 

Here's the workflow: 

Step #1: Define Your Persona and Value Prop

A cartoon bird with a thought bubble that has a boy image inside. -Vouris Images

First, define your target persona and value proposition. This will provide the foundation for your messaging and guide your communication strategy. 

If you don't have this handy, you can also ask ChatGPT for help with a simple prompt like:

My company's website is [URL]. Based on this, what do you think our value proposition is and who do we serve?

This should give you a clear persona and value prop.  

Step #2: Use ChatGPT to Generate Ideas

Vouris cartoon bird with 5 idea lightbulbs -Vouris Images

Next, it's time to use ChatGPT to produce a bunch of different - but highly specific - job stories. You can use this prompt: 

"Imagine a B2B SaaS company [Company Name] with the following value proposition and target audience:

Value Proposition: [Describe the key service or product offering and its primary benefits.]

Target Audience: [Define the specific group of businesses or professionals the company aims to serve.]

Based on this, create five job stories for the company, focusing on how its product or service addresses specific scenarios and needs of the target audience. Each job story should follow this format: '

When [specific situation or challenge faced by the target audience], I want to [what they want to achieve or the action they want to take], so that I can [desired outcome or benefit].'

After creating the job stories, evaluate and rank them based on their impact and relevance to the target audience. Explain your reasoning for the ranking, focusing on factors such as the universality of the need, the potential impact on the customer's business, and the emotional resonance of the story. End your response by summarizing how these job stories collectively showcase the value of [Company Name] to its target audience."

Step #3: Rank and Evaluate the Job Stories

Vouris cartoon bird looking at checkboxes with checks and crosses -Vouris Images

Once you have generated a list of job stories with this prompt, ChatGPT will also rank the stories in order of what it thinks is most compelling to the reader. This might not always be a perfect description of your situation, but it's worth reading the AI analysis for each job. 

Here's what that looks like in ChatGPT:

Step #4: Identify Your Trigger Events

Once you have a strong job story that you'd like to use, ask yourself if it'd be easy to build a list around the "when" part of the statement. If you can find a clear trigger event that signals the specific moment that's described in your job story, you have something tangible to work with! 

Here's an example of a trigger event:

Remember the example of the renewable energy analytics company from earlier? If one of their job stories was:

When a renewable energy company faces fluctuating energy outputs from their solar farms due to varying weather conditions, they want to analyze and predict energy production levels accurately, so that they can optimize energy distribution and reduce waste.

...then, the "trigger event" in this example would be "varying weather conditions" that might screw up a solar farm's performance. 

So, let's say the Midwest is hit with a series of tornados or the East Coast goes through a major blizzard. Once adverse weather conditions happen, we might have a highly relevant email campaign ready to go!

Other trigger events could be company alerts, new hires, funding rounds, and pretty much anything that's "searchable". 

Step #5: Building a Targeted List

Once you've got a strong job story with a searchable trigger event, build your list! Based on the trigger events you have identified, you can build a targeted list of prospects who are likely to resonate with your messaging at a specific moment in time. 

This is as simple as prepping your lists and keeping them organized, so that you're ready to send the right message at the right time!

Step #6: Writing Compelling Copy

With all the groundwork laid out, it's time to start writing your emails. Stay focused on the "job" that you're trying to help your prospects "do" and you should create a strong, focused message.

If you'd like to learn more about our cold email copywriting rules and frameworks, check out this video:

Ready to Get Started?

Combining the power of job stories and this ChatGPT workflow can significantly improve the quality and effectiveness of your messaging. By understanding your buyer's needs and motivations, you'll immediately level up the "starting points" for your writing.

You'll create better emails, quicker and easier. 

If you'd like more sales resources, download our collection here: 

{{download-all}}

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