The general thinking around developing a value proposition is that we all gather in this room and create a wall of post-it-notes through a brainstorming exercise, and then we (sometimes) iterate through testing our value proposition with customers. I know that may be an oversimplification but in most of my experiences, it is not that far from the truth.
The worse part of the exercise is that afterwards, we do little to connect this value proposition to most of our other efforts and often to individual market segments. The reason I think is that they are not identified strongly enough to our customer segments/types and aligned with our core capabilities.
Start-ups may look at this and shoot holes in the theory, but the post is written from the perspective of established organizations that already have achieved product/market fit. You will derive some value from this as you read on.
I see the same preceding scenario often times when SWOT Analysis are completed by using that 4-box arrangement of post-it-notes and calling it a SWOT. See my blog post, Not as easy as you think, A SWOT Analysis
I have struggled through the years of capturing my true idea on how a Value Proposition should be created. I have used the most popular systems and though, we make them work. I believe many that I have participated on have been a source of value but being a process person; it has always bothered me with my own lack of consistency in developing them. A path of new enthusiasm was shown when I saw Alex Osterwalder’s rendition which led to one of the first interviews on the VP Canvas, (Book link: Value Proposition Design) a couple years before the book, was published. However, like most others, I did not struggle in making it work, though a little difficult online I eventually used Trello for the recommended exercises, but the process was interpreted so widely and led to a variety of results with customers. I wanted something cleaner.
Recently, I reviewed a new title, The Digital Transformation Playbook: Rethink Your Business for the Digital Age (Columbia Business School Publishing) by David Rogers. I was familiar with the author from his writing of The Network Is Your Customer: Five Strategies to Thrive in a Digital Age (I recommend). In his new book, what caught my eye was this figure:
What I liked about the layout is that it fit my philosophy or aligned very well in the way I develop marketing plans. I typically view customers from the type of value received that jobs-to-be-done acumen. I then perform a SWOT for these individual segments. And as you can see from the outline, David does a similar approach and drilling down those threats into three categories; New tech, Changing needs and Competitors and Substitutes. He establishes not only our core value proposition but the individual value elements of it.
He drills down further by reviewing these elements per customers. Realistically, this is not with every customer but certainly key accounts and segments. But the twist that he now introduces is that he looks for disruptions in this space both internally and externally.
I was excited to learn more and purchased the book. Not being satisfied with just the book, I contacted him and arranged an interview which resulted in next week’s Business901 podcast.
P.S. This is just one chapter of the book.