Whose Problem Are You Trying to Solve?

Posted on August 3, 2011

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I have, in an earlier post, written about the need to discover an effective value proposition for your product or service. There is, however, an important pre-requisite to developing your value proposition. Marketers often forget that value proposition is not an end in itself but a means to an end; value proposition helps your target customer recognize & remember how your product or service is a distinct solution to her problem. The pre-requisite to an effective value proposition, therefore, is a clear understanding of who your target customer is and what specific problem of hers you are trying to solve.

One common mistake marketers make is to imagine that their product can solve everybody’s problem. Imagine a particular BMW model claiming to solve the transportation need of both a successful Executive, who needs her car to project her power, and a soccer Mom, who needs a car that is above all spacious and safe.

Another common mistake marketers make is to identify the wrong target segment or solve a problem that is not the real problem. Say you are airline ticket booking website. Who is your target customer – the ticket buyer or the airlines? If you identify the airlines as your target customer, what problem of theirs are you trying to solve: increase ticket sales, reduce dependence on travel agents, reduce cost of sales?

A clear understanding of who your target segment is and what their problem is has benefits beyond developing an effective value proposition. This clarity will also drive what features you build into your product, how you price your service, who you identify as your competition and therefore your understanding of the competitive landscape.

Whose problem are you trying to solve can be a hard question to answer but answering it will untangle many seemingly jumbled up balls of thread.

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Posted in: On Marketing