Here's my favourite value prop tool — and it's not a canvas 😮

Today, I'm talking about using experience mapping to develop better products with stronger value propositions.

Today, I'm talking about using experience mapping to create compelling value propositions.

By using this process, you'll be able to develop better products with stronger value propositions — by surfacing the pain points your customers experience and developing empathy for their experience.

Unfortunately, most founders don't have a process for designing compelling value props. Instead, they start by dropping random assumptions into a Value Proposition Canvas as they pop into their mind.

The result? Shallow, weak, and unfocused offerings that don't resonate with customers.

They build a value prop and then go validate it with customers' experience. You want to do the opposite.

Use a customer's experience to build a compelling value prop.

First, some clarity: an experience map is not the same as a customer journey map.

You may have seen journey maps before — especially if you're in SaaS. They map out the journey of the customer as they use your product, so you can look for pain points and opportunities.

But an experience map is different. It describes your customer's experience without you.

Not before you, but without you.

An experience map starts with the problem you're trying to solve and the customer for whom you're solving it, and asks the question:

What does your customer's life look like without your product?

If you're solving a real problem, the customer experiences pain.

But more importantly, they are doing *something* to try to solve the problem — right now, without you.

Remember the early adopter pyramid (LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube). Your first customers are the ones that:

  1. Have a problem

  2. Are aware of it

  3. Are actively looking for a solution

  4. Are so desperate that they've hacked something together out of spare parts

  5. And have the money to buy your solution

Your early adopters are already trying to solve the problem themselves.

Their solution probably sucks — that's why they need you. But the customer is still doing something. If they aren't, you're not solving a problem worth solving.

So, to design a compelling value proposition, we have to understand not only why they have the problem, but also:

  • What life looks like without any solution

  • What they've hacked together to try to solve it

  • What their process looks like with their hacky solution

  • What about it works well

  • What about it doesn't work well

  • etc.

And that's what goes on the map.

It's a flowchart, from left to right, that documents their experience trying to meet their need.

empty experience map

Here's how to map their experience:

1/ Start at the left with their need.

This is the context — the "why". For example:

  • I'd like to lose weight.

  • I want to keep track of my to-dos.

  • I want a consolidated view of all of my IoT devices.

  • etc.

2/ Document the process as you move rightward.

Proceed to document each step along the way as they look for a solution, fail and succeed along the way, and ultimately stop — solving it, giving up, sticking their finger in the proverbial dam, whatever.

Each node in the flow is one step.

For each, include a brief description, and whatever information you need to make sense of it:

  • Who is involved (customer, friends, colleagues, competitors)?

  • Where is it happening (at their computer, in their car, at Costco)?

  • etc.

Get detailed!

3/ List out the pain points for each step.

As the user goes through the process:

  • What are their wants & needs?

  • What's working for them?

  • What isn't working for them?

  • What do they fear?

  • etc.

4/ Find opportunities.

For each step, list out what you can do to preserve the good and eliminate the bad.

How can your product:

  • Create the gains the customer expects from a solution?

  • Alleviate the pain they're experiencing?

  • Provide an experience that assuages their fears?

And that's it — that's their world, and how you can fit into it.

This experience map becomes your value proposition.

It contains everything you need to design a compelling value proposition that you can test with customers.

Not only is experience mapping a systematic way to uncover pains and opportunities, but it looks at the value your product can provide to a customer from the same lens they will be use to evaluate it: their experience without you.

Now you can take that information and fill out a Value Proposition Canvas to get further clarity.

If you want to create an experience map for your product, reply to this email and I'll send you a template you can use to get started.

Published 3 months ago

Ready to dive in?Let's plan your next sprint.