Have you ever lost yourself in a project? Spending days on end engrossed in its every little detail. Obsessing over each feature, button, and attribute. Finally you finish and show your magnum opus to your peers and they respond with an indifferent shrug or worse: they don't like it! You, like many others before you, have suffered from getting too involved with a project before first identifying your value proposition.
What is a Value Proposition
A value proposition is the heart of the solution/benefit that your product is offering. Value proposition design is critical to product/business success. . Take for example the rideshare company Uber. What makes Uber better than just calling a cab? Well, their value proposition is that the rides are easy to access, require little effort, and are totally cashless. They examined what the ride market was missing and designed a product to meet those needs. Understanding who your customers are and what value you bring them is crucial.
How to Identify the Value Proposition
Start by categorizing your customers into segments. Whether you work at a startup or a team within a fortune 100, the process is the same. If you are at a larger company, your “customers” might be people within the company like your boss or shareholders. With a startup or small company a customer is often more straightforward and refers to end users who will spend money on your product.
Once you have created your customer segments, focus on each one independently. Flex your empathy muscles and mentally put yourself in that customer's position. What is important to them? What do they have to gain from your product? What pain is relieved by this product? What features will ultimately be important to that customer? Document all of these thoughts and rinse and repeat for each customer segment.
Now comes the fun part: go talk to your customers! Ask them probing questions to determine if the value proposition you came up with makes sense. Ask them about their pains. Propose some gains and see if they value them. Maybe customers don’t care if you reduce their wait time by 15 seconds, maybe a reduction in cost means nothing because they are loyal to a specific brand. After talking with customers you will soon realize that many of your previous assumptions were not correct. Collect your data and get back to the drawing board. Nobody said creating a validated value proposition was easy but it’s your key to success!