(68) How to make your Marketing team love you by using the Value Proposition Canvas?

This week, my boss asked us to come up with effective value proposition for our features from the upcoming roadmap. While we were scampering on ways to come up with effective value proposition messages, my attention was drawn to a book being read by a fellow colleague, who is a working student. The book was Alex Osterwalder’s Value Proposition Design: How to Create Products and Services Customers Want.

It was quite a coincidence that my colleague sitting right next to me was preparing his thesis on a similar subject and was making use of the book right at that moment.

I borrowed the book from him and started to read it again. I had purchased a copy of the book four years ago and had not been able to understand it. The design of the book on the other hand was visually appealing with large texts and lot of graphics and figures. However, I still could not understand the book now. The visual density of the book assaulted my senses without contributing to any increase in comprehension. I politely returned the book. However, knowing Alex’s reputation of being a popular business designer, I knew I was missing out on something very important.

With my frustration growing, I stumbled across the following video on Youtube by Alex himself and the power of Value Proposition Canvas dawned onto me.

Visibly excited, I proposed the idea to the other product owners in the department with the help of some real life examples. Thankfully, they all agreed to the idea and we all were going to use the Value Proposition Canvas for the task assigned by the boss.

Tip: Ditch the book, watch this video

At TeamViewer, we follow a Value Proposition workshop before teams can begin working on a project. This is meant as an activity where the entire product team gets to understand the customer problem and the value we intend to deliver them at the end of the project. The exercise is intended to give the team clarity and purpose all through the feature development purpose and help them stay the course.

However, I have felt that the activities we have been performing in the workshops is not the least bit effective. In fact, the last workshop that I facilitated left the entire team confused so much so that they did not want to attend another workshop.

Here’s what we have been trying to do before. The entire team would listen to the real customer problems gleaned carefully by the product manager and attempt to write the following value proposition statement together:

Now, dont get me wrong. This template comes from the legendary Goeffrey Moore from the very classic Crossing the Chasm. All respect to Geoffrey Moore but my practical experience of doing this has been unpleasant. Forcing an entire team to fill the value proposition statement seemed like going through the motions without a lot of intention. The team would then pin this statement at their team space for the entire duration of the project. I can bet not once again would any team member look at the statement.

Why?

Because, the statement in its present form is:

  • Verbose
  • An uninspiring blob of text
  • Lacks impact

So, what’s the alternative?

We will come to that in a bit but first lets understand why product teams need to be really good at identifying their value proposition.

Why product teams need to be really good at identifying value proposition of the problems they are trying to solve?

Over time, I have realized the value of due diligence of product teams to understand the customer value before they jump into solving a problem. This realization is only reinforcing with time. The more diligent you are in validating your value proposition, the more successful sales and marketing teams are going to be in selling your features to the customers. It sounds a lot like common sense, but unfortunately is not a common practice.

I want to share the following slide by Des Traynor from Intercom at his recent talk at SaaStr Conference. This emphatically reinforces the point I am trying to make.

Introducing Value Proposition Canvas

I spent a good part of the day to understand the canvas and finally climaxed with an Aha moment. All of a sudden it made sense and the canvas felt powerful.

The benefit of any visual tool or model is that it brings clarity and builds shared understanding.

I wont even attempt to describe the canvas. The following video does a better job:

I applied the canvas to create value proposition for my features but for the sake of interest to a general audience, I would showcase it with the examples that Alex used in his talk that I mentioned above.

Value Proposition Canvas for Tesla

The Customer Jobs, Gains and Pains are captured on the right side

Once the prioritized customer jobs, gains and pains are captured, the product team can formulate the product offering that actually maps to these needs.

If your value proposition on the left is able to make a one to one mapping to the jobs and pains to the right, you have found a fit.

However, this mapping has to happen along with your customers. They need to validate your value proposition canvas. Otherwise, it is just a bunch of hypothesis you are operating on. Alex’s talk in the Youtube link mentioned above gives you ideas on how to validate these hypothesis.

Summary

In summary, I haven’t found a better tool yet to clarify your thinking about your customer needs and map it to your value proposition.

Do this workshop in the product team and present the canvas to your marketing team and they will adore you for it. Or even better, do this along with your marketing team and they will love you even more.

But if you know of a better model, canvas or framework, please do share it here in the comments.

References on value proposition:

  1. https://www.productmanagerhq.com/2018/07/value-propositions-for-product-managers/
  2. https://www.productmanagerhq.com/2018/07/validating-and-executing-on-value-propositions/
  3. https://www.productmanagerhq.com/2018/07/advanced-tactics-for-value-propositions/

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Ravi Kumar.

Ravi Kumar.

Building nextgen real estate platform at PriceHubble & podcaster at productlessons.com. I blog about products, business around products, and growth strategies.

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