Value Proposition Starter Guide
Few years back, I led the launch of a complex healthcare technology solution. There were several technical (including platform) and service-related pieces/components as part of the overall solution. Our customers (user personas) were not technical savvy and so the goal of the service components was to help improve the adoption of the technical components. Due to the complexity of the overall solution, it was important for us to clearly articulate and align on the solution. As such, we created a ton of documentation during the strategy and planning phases that we thought would be helpful in the alignment process. However, we failed to create the most important artifact— the value proposition document. We realized it during the launch planning time as our business development teams needed it badly in order to quickly summarize the solution story in front of the prospective customers. Our detailed comprehensive product documentation was no good for that purpose.
So, what exactly is the value proposition? A picture is worth a thousand words — so here it is.
While value proposition is important, it certainly gets lost in the weeds when not clearly understood. So, here is a very simple 6-steps starter guide showing how to build the value proposition.
Step # 1: As always, start with the customer problems identification process.
Conduct product discovery interviews with the target customers (a.k.a. user personas) and understand their pains. Ask powerful ‘why’ questions here for a better understanding of their problems. Group all the related problems together as shown in the below diagram. I used a sample set of related problems and grouped them together in the first column below. Let’s call this group our ‘sample example’.
Step # 2: Define ‘Jobs to be done’ (JTBD)
Based on the customer discovery interviews, define the jobs that customer needs to do — call them ‘jobs to be done’ or abbreviated ‘JTBD’. Create one or more JTBDs for all related customer problems. To keep it simple, I have created one JTBD for each group of problems in the below diagram. The JTBD for the sample example is also shown below.
Step # 3: Research the products and services components that would relieve the customer pains by providing benefits and value.
Determine all the benefits that the overall solution would provide through products and services components. All the components/benefits for the sample example are shown in the below diagram.
Step # 4: Categorize the products & services components/benefits.
During this step, categorize the products and services components/benefits into three types— must haves, performance benefits, and delighters. ‘Must haves’ benefits are the foundational items that you need to definitely include in the solution. ‘Performance benefits’ provide an edge over the competition. Some of the competitors may already have that but not all of them. Delighters are your unique benefits that are generally not available in your target customer market. All the components/benefits types for the sample example are shown in the below diagram.
Step 5 # Consolidate all the above steps into a one-pager document — value proposition diagram
Consolidated value proposition document for the sample example using all the earlier steps is shown in the below diagram.
Step 6 # Explain the value proposition in a few words/sentences — value proposition statement.
Think of value proposition statement as a punchline to add at the top of your value proposition one-pager document — a cherry on top and so be creative!
Let’s name the sample example as EasyVP (a short form for Easy Value Proposition). So finally, here is a simple value proposition statement for the EasyVP solution.
Value proposition shouldn’t be difficult to understand. A simple yet powerful learning and certification solution for all your value proposition needs that won’t let you bore, and you will ask for more.
Reference for benefit categories: Dan Olsen’s book ‘The Lean Product Playbook’