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Value Proposition Canvas: Customer Segment Explained

15 min read
Solomia Kantsir
Solomia Kantsir
1 Apr 2021

Introduction

Well, if there were a magic wand that helped you understand your customers and create a product that matters to them, it would definitely be a Value Proposition Canvas. It allows answering fundamental questions about creating value for customers and achieving a problem-solution fit and, as a result, product-market fit. The canvas can either be applied during the initial research phase of a new product or the refining stage of the existing one. In simple terms, if you aim to create a product that brings real value that customers and users would need and like, you should understand why people should use it beforehand. 

In this article, we’ll focus on a customer part of the Value Proposition Canvas, explain how to analyze your customers, and provide you with a list of questions for better research.

People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.” Simon Sinek

What is the Value Proposition Canvas?

The Value Proposition Canvas is a tool designed to help create products that users really need and want. It is a way to organize and structure information about users and customers and map it onto meeting these needs, solving pains, and delivering expected benefits. 

The canvas consists of two main blocks:

  • Customer segment – this is where a problem is defined;
  • Product segment – this is where a solution is defined.

Why is a Customer Profile Important?

The Customer Profile is a part of the Value Proposition Canvas that focuses on none other than your customer and helps you understand and analyze what they do on a regular basis, how they want to be perceived in society, what they worry about, and what delights them.

People don’t just buy your product, they buy the value your product delivers. Based on the Customer Profile, you’ll work on a Value Map that will define how your product will be valuable on the market. That all will help you achieve a fit between the market (your customers) and your product.

Your product should be a red cape on a windy day that makes your customer a superhero. It’s not only about functional benefits but also emotions and the value you deliver.

How to understand the Customer Segment?

The most crucial thing to understand about Customer Segment is that you create it beyond the existing (if there are any) solutions of your product. You should consider your customers, their day-to-day activities, concerns, needs, and gains. Putting yourself into your customers’ shoes will help you think out of the box and create even better opportunities to improve their lives with your product.

Let’s get straight to the point!

Customer Jobs

This part of the Customer Segment covers jobs and tasks that users perform in their work or life. You can divide these jobs into four types:

  1. 1. Functional jobs – these are daily processes, work responsibilities, and functional tasks that your customer does to achieve a specific goal. In general, functional jobs include all the tasks they seek to accomplish.

  1. 2. Social jobs – social jobs are more about how people want to be perceived in their society and what social value they want to bring (a person’s influence, social status, power, etc.).

  1. 3. Emotional jobs – this category is about how the customers perceive themselves. What makes them happy and satisfied with themselves? What do they do to feel more confident or knowledgeable?

  1. 4. Supporting jobs – other than their primary functional jobs, your customers can have additional responsibilities and tasks.

You should prioritize all jobs as some are more important for customers, and some are less valuable. Also, consider the context of the job, as it creates different use cases and value proposition points – the difference between shopping in a supermarket, rather than a local market, can create a unique experience and thus a unique value proposition.

Let’s consider a real-life example of a Marketing Manager Sally who uses Facebook daily to promote the company she works in. Her daily routine includes writing and publishing posts, running ad campaigns, and tracking marketing analytics for the company page. 

From here, step-by-step, we’ll create a Facebook customer profile. In the further articles, we’ll analyze how Facebook could cover all the customer’s needs by either improving existing features or adding new ones. 

We’ve outlined four types of Sally’s jobs:

customer jobs value proposition canvas for facebook

Questions to define the job priority:

  • How do customers identify the importance of a task: time, effort, money, expected benefit?
  • What are the consequences if your customer doesn’t do this job?
  • How frequently is the job performed?
  • Are there any mandatory tasks that will prevent a customer from achieving his goal?

Customer Pains

Pains are the negative outcomes and experiences that customers want to avoid to get their job done properly. They can include:

  1. 1. Problems related to functional jobs – if the solution doesn’t work or something goes not as planned.

  1. 2. Social outcomes – it could likely be a fear of being perceived in an unpleasant light.

  1. 3. Emotional problems – dissatisfaction, annoyance, frustrations regarding certain jobs.

  1. 4. Risks – some negative consequences of the job that wasn’t performed properly.

  1. 5. Obstacles or challenges – things that can slow down job performance.

As with the jobs, it’s important to prioritize – pay attention to customers’ pain severity. The latter depends on how important the job is for your customers. What’s more,  pain should be concrete. Try to measure how long a customer can tolerate a particular negative situation and identify the breaking point.

Understanding customer pains is vital to tailor the solution to relieve those pains and help omit negative outcomes and experiences.

Getting back to our example — Sally also has her pains during creating and managing content via Facebook. She faces various problems, obstacles, and risks that complicate the performance of her marketing activities.

Questions to define the pain priority:

  • What are the major obstacles and problems that customers currently face?
  • What risks are customers trying to avoid? (financial, social, technical). If something were to go wrong, what would it be?
  • How are current propositions underperforming for your customers? 
  • Which features are they missing? 
  • Are there performance issues that annoy them or malfunctions they refer to?

Customer Gains

We define gains as outcomes your customers aspire to achieve with their jobs. Those gains make your customer happier and job-to-be-done easier. Depending on the priority there can be multiple types of gain:

  1. 1. Required – these are gains that are essential for a solution to work;

  1. 2. Expected – these are the outcomes that customers expect to get with their solution, although they aren’t mandatory;

  1. 3. Desired – gains that your customers would like to achieve, but they’re not expected. This can be a nice and convenient app interface.

  1. 4. Unexpected – the outcomes that delight your customers. These can be your opportunity to gain a competitive advantage by creating unique features to cover unexpected gains. 

Consider how relevant are particular gains for customers – some can be more crucial than others, so remember about gains prioritizing. Also, make them specific, find out how your users measure their success and differentiate the gains.

Deep and concrete research will help you tailor better solutions within your product. In such ways, you’ll create more benefits and a positive experience for the customers.

There are things that motivate Sally to perform her job on a daily basis – positive outcomes she expects or needs. She wants her marketing activities to be effective and the job process convenient.  

Questions to define the priority of gains:

  • How do current value propositions delight your customers? Which specific features do they enjoy? What performance and quality do they expect? 
  • What would make the work or life of customers easier? 
  • How to make the process of learning and onboarding easier?
  • How to increase the quality and number of services? How to cut costs? 
  • What customers expect the most? (good design, guarantees, more capabilities/features, special features?

How to get info about your customers?

The next question you now probably have is: “And where can I find all that information about my users?”. No worries, we have some tips and resources you can use to gather data. To build a perfect profile of your customer, you can use different tools and combine them. Some are best to use with already existing products, while the others work better for the initial research phase.

Quantitative tools

A great way to understand what is getting trendy among people nowadays is to look at what they’re searching for. Google Trends will show you the popularity of different search queries.

If you already have a website, Hotjar will provide you with all the info about users’ behavior through heatmaps, session recordings, and surveys.

It is a powerful tool that will tell you everything about your website traffic, audience, conversions, and so on.

  • Reports and secondary market research

You can check out research by McKinsey or Gartner to get reliable and up-to-date information.

  • Social media

Social media platforms aren’t only for entertainment but also a source of valuable data about your customers. You can find what they are interested in, which content is working the best for them, and gain insights from the analytics social media provides.

Qualitative tools

Keep in mind that qualitative research is also important, especially in the product’s initial phases. Here are some old but gold methods to gather qualitative data:

  • Interviews

Who can tell you more about your customers if not themselves? Talking to your target audience can help gain a deeper understanding of their needs and problems. To fully understand how interviews can help you build a perfect solution for the market, read this astonishing article on the importance of interviews.

  • Questionnaires

Questionnaires can be classified as qualitative and quantitative research methods, but with the appropriate questions, you can attain lots of extensive answers from respondents.

  • Focus group

It is a discussion with a group of people on a particular topic under a researcher’s guidance. 

Having lots of information on the web can be both beneficial and tricky. So make sure you use reliable sources to get to know your customers more. The following steps after gathering the results could be:

  • Prioritization to discard irrelevant insights;
  • Grouping those insights by similarity. 

5 Tips to build a perfect Customer Profile

1. Select a customer segment

You can have a couple of groups of target customers. Make a separate customer profile for each segment.

2. Outline your customers’ jobs and prioritize

Define functional, social, emotional, and supporting jobs and take context into account.

3. Discover your customers’ pains and prioritize

Include problems, obstacles, risks, negative experiences and prioritize by pain severity.

4. Identify gains of your customers and prioritize

Consider relevancy and importance of gains for your customers.

5. Remember to prioritize

It’s almost impossible to cover all the existing customers’ pains or gains, so focus on the most crucial ones instead.

Conclusion

The key to a successful product launch is pretty simple – understand your customers and which value they gain from your product. The Value Proposition Canvas will guide you on the way to creating a solution that covers users’ needs and values. Start with an essential research stage and go on with outlining jobs, pains, and gains. 

If you feel your product hasn’t worked out as expected or you’re just on the initial stage with your startup, then drop us a line. Our team will help you build your business and product in a way that addresses your customer needs. 

In the next articles, we’ll cover more about the product segment of Value Proposition Canvas and explain how to find a problem-solution fit. So stay tuned for more updates and or subscribe to our newsletter for more tips!

Solomia Kantsir by Solomia Kantsir

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