Value Proposition Design: Jobs, Pains, & Gains with Mark Lowenstein

By Rhys E. Probyn, Co-Founder of Cape and Islands Clambake Company

In this week’s session Mark Lowenstein challenged us (literally) to take a deep dive into the minds of our customers and use the insights we discover as the basis for developing value propositions that increase their gains and relieve their pains.

The key takeaways from this week’s session were as follows:

  1. Your value proposition will differ for each customer segment. To maximize your odds of success try to get into their heads and think like they think. Next, don’t keep these insights in your head, pound the pavement and conduct surveys to turn hypotheses into knowledge!
  2. Once you think you’ve figured your customers out, test your theories, tweak your value proposition, you probably won’t get things perfect right out of the gate so be prepared for multiple iterations.

Walk a Mile in Your Customers Shoes

This has the potential to be a truly transformative experience for your business, that can have a profound impact on how effectively you design your product/service to fulfill the wants and needs of your intended customers.

One the most common (and often fatal) mistakes that companies make is to glaze over this step and move too quickly into product development. In increasingly competitive marketplaces successfully reaching and satisfying your target customers requires a deeper understanding of: who they are, what they truly care about, who/what influences them, what are their pains or vulnerabilities as they pertain to your product/service, and what gains can they derive from your product/service. Sitting in class, I felt like all of a sudden something that may have seemed obvious and simple before had become overwhelming. Fortunately the following tool helped me relax by chunking, demystifying, and defining some key elements to effectively tackle this “out of body” exercise.

Value = f(Pain Relief + Gain Creation + Product/Service Customer Roles)

Following customer soul searching exercise its worth noting that what we now “know” about customers remains full of assumptions that will need to tested and tweaked as we move forward. In order to design a value proposition we were next introduced to the value proposition canvas which links customer segments and value proposition boxes on the business model canvas. The six components of the value proposition canvas are split between customers (pains, gains, and customer jobs) and value proposition (products & services, gain creators, and pain relievers).

Here are some definitions provided by Strategyzer to clarify:

Customer Gains: benefits the customer expects, desires or would be surprised by. This includes functional utility, social gains, positive emotions, cost savings, etc.

Customer Pains: negative emotions, undesired costs or situations, and risks the customer (could) experience before, during, or after getting the job done.

Customer Jobs: Describes what a specific customer segment is trying to get done. This could be tasks they’re trying to complete, problems they’re trying to solve, or wants or needs they’re trying to satisfy.

Value Proposition- Gain Creators: Describes how your product/services create benefits the customer expects, desires, or would be surprised by.

Value Proposition- Pain Relievers: Describes how you products/services alleviate or reduce negative emotions, undesired costs and situations, or risks that you customer may experience throughout getting the job done.

Value Proposition- Products/Services: Which products/services do you offer that help your customer get either a functional, social, or emotional job done, or help them satisfy wants or needs. In addition, what ancillary products/services help your customer perform their role as buyer (decision maker), co-creator (customization or contribution), and transferrer (disposal, reseller, or sharer).

FOMO: My Experience with a Key Customer Pain

Though a little embarrassed to admit it, the fear of missing out or “FOMO” has played a role the birth of the Cape and Islands Clambake Company and may be a key tool in our arsenal. In 2007, I was a newcomer in a relatively small community on the Cape. While I was able to network around town and meet most of the folks on the social scene fairly quickly, I learned that being acquainted and being on invite list for events were two different things. I would regularly hear about fun events after they happened and felt increasingly like I was missing out. To crack the invite lists, I first volunteered to help throw the clambake portion of one of the bigger annual parties in the community and upon seeing how poorly it was run took the lead in my third year in town. The next year we spun the clambake off into our own event and over the half decade that followed a core group of friends and I turned “Crabs on the Foot” into the biggest must attend event of the summer for everyone in town. Not only were we generating FOMO that brought people back who had moved away, but we were getting invited to every event from small dinner parties on up by folks who wanted to be damn sure that they were knew when “Crabs” was happening and that they’d have spot on a skiff to get out to the island where hosted it. The party was a hell of a lot of work, but the effort certainly paid off in reciprocal invitations to events. Of course, from early on attendees encouraged me to start doing clambakes as a business and now that Chris is on board I feel like we have a shot at making it work.

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