Profiling the customer and finding a product market fit

Many entrepreneurs, often emphasize their wonderful technology, products and features but don’t even notice that they haven’t paused for even one moment to examine who their customers are, who will use their product, or for whom their advanced technology might solve a business need.

You might be surprised, but the technology or the product you’re developing, even if it’s advanced or innovative, simply doesn’t matter at all if you don’t answer the simple question “Who is the customer who actually needs this technology/product?” and “How will it benefit him in life.”

Steve Jobs taught us this important lesson in response to a defiant question he once got from the audience regarding technological inferiority in Apple’s product and what role Steve plays in the company:

You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back to the technology

- Steve Jobs

Putting the customer in the center — Is one of the key factors in working with the business model canvas method, because the method guides and protects us from the very first moment the company is conceived to examine who the client is and what is the value proposition we are offering. Focusing on “the customer’s needs” and, “market’s need,” saves us from wasting time on developing a technology/products/company that no one needs, or building a company that will have no customers.

Defining the customer and finding a product market fit

Because of the emphasis the method puts to the practicability of the idea, “the customer” and “value proposition” columns get the highest priority on the canvas page and your work on the business canvas begins with them.

Only after these columns are filled in, all the other columns on the canvas will be completed in relation to them and most of the 50 questions that will help you fill out the canvas will be answered, questions such as, how will we market? What should we develop next? or How much will it cost us etc.?

The relativity between these two columns will help you reach your desired destination, finding product market fit — the meeting point between an existing market need and the product/service you are building.

Due to the importance and the implications of the relativity between those two columns — “the customer” and “value proposition”, they both got their very own canvas a.k.a the customer profiling and value proposition canvas, a canvas that will help you profile and define them with precision.

Customer profiling page

Your work on filling and answering the customer profiling and value proposition page will bring you to a deeper understanding of the various types of customers you’re aiming at. It will help you get familiar with your customers and answer a wide variety of questions about them: Who are they? How old are they? Are they men or women? What do they do? What position do they have? What’s important to them? What influences them and where will you be able to find them etc. etc.?

The customer profiling page is divided into a few simple parts and just as this video shows, it’s best to start working on it from right to left.

We’ll start with profiling and getting in-depth familiarity with the customer you’re aiming to provide a solution for.

We’ll ask ourselves a variety of questions like what are their:

  • Jobs — meaning we’ll figure out what your customer is trying to do/achieve at his job. Does he have a problem he’s trying to solve? And/or does he have a need he’s trying to fulfill?
  • Pains — what “hurts” your customer? What is keeping your customer from performing his work efficiently?
  • Gains — what value is your customer trying to get from his work?

Now we’ll move on to profiling the value proposition that we’re thinking of providing the customer:

  • Gain creators — what in your technology/feature/service provides “value” or “gain” to your customer?
  • Pain relievers — what in your technology/feature/service can relieve the pains of your customer?

*In the name of filling out the page efficiently, these 38 questions to profile the customer and find the product market fit might be of help.

And finally — we’ll consider how to take everything you’ve written in the “value proposition” field and package it into a product/service that can be taken to market.

As part of this mental exercise of profiling the customers, it’s best to actually create a persona that functions like an identity card for your average customer. Imagine a character with a “name and face” for every type of customer you’ve defined in a way that will allow you to describe your customer’s every-day life — what he does in the morning and what’s important to him.

A precise definition of the customer and his needs and the solution you intend to sell him, are key points to the success of your company.

In conclusion

As soon as you’ve managed to complete the customer profiling page, you’ll find that the transition to filling out the other columns of the business model canvas is simple.

The work isn’t over here of course; profiling the customer isn’t just a theoretical question. It’s very important to have a direct encounter with your potential client so that you can also examine whether your assumptions/hypotheses were correct and perhaps discover something that you didn’t think your customer needed. We’ll talk about that in the next posts.

So did you learn something surprising about your customers that you didn’t know?

I’d love to hear in the comments below.

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