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Value Proposition Design Workshops – And How To Build Digital Strategy Roadmaps With Them

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Last Updated: 4/17/2017

Part 2 of 2

This is the second post in a series about Value Proposition Design. The series covers what it is, what its benefits are, how it fits into a larger Digital Strategy. Click here for part 1. Also, stay tuned for our update Digital Strategy Resources Guide in April 2017

About This Series

Value Proposition Design Flying lensIn my previous post in this series about Value Proposition Design we covered the high level benefits of VPD as a design thinking process. In addition to its inherent benefits it can help establish a common language that connects 10,000 foot level thinkers with their more detail oriented counterparts, be it employees or service providers.

If you missed the previous post, you might like to check out Value Proposition Design – “Just Do Me Up One Of These”.

What You Will Get Out Of Reading This Post

In this post I will go into how we use the Value Proposition Design process in a slightly unorthodox way. The goal is to create an actionable digital strategy roadmap and project plans, even for solopreneurs and small business owners.

Benefits of using VPD as a starting points in this way are many:

  • Better web design and site content
  • Better SEO and link building approach
  • Better Engagement for blog and social media posts
  • Increased e-Mail list sign up rates
  • Better converting lead magnets
  • Inbound Marketing Readiness
  • More compelling marketing language
  • Clarity about what analytics to measure
  • Clarity around UX goals
  • More representative UX design processes

So if you are interested in these outcomes, read on!

Origins of Value Proposition Design

So where did Value Proposition Design come from? Many of our readers who are into the start-up scene will have heard of the Business Model Canvas. The Business Model Canvas is a strategic management and lean start-up template for developing new, or documenting existing, business models. It is one of the better known “lean” start-up processes. (Wikipedia and YouTube references).

Digital strategy roadmaps are not just for start-upsHave you and your business ever looked for partners or investors?

You may not be going in front of Shark Tank, but creating a pitch for potential partners or investors in your business or non-profit happens more often than one might think.

The Business Model Canvas and Value Proposition Design processes allow you to communicate and test the ins and outs of your business model. Some start-ups use it to build their “Shark Tank Ready” pitch to investors covering all the bases in terms of customer segments, product market fit, financials, etc. But it is also a terrific process to test out the viability for new product and business ideas. And we use it in a unique way to feed into our digital strategy roadmap process.

“Do you produce products and services customers actually want? “

Value Proposition Design BookValue Proposition Design (VPD) was authored by Alex Osterwalder and his team at Strategyzer.com, and has emerged as a sub-set of the Business Model Canvas. It focuses specifically on understanding customer segments, and product-market fit of your products and services. The clear value proposition definitions that emerge from a VPD exercise are extremely useful, regardless of where in your business life-cycle you currently are.

As I touched upon in my previous post, we often find that many of our clients benefit hugely from creating clear value proposition statements around their products and services. Often these have not been formally established, and can be used to connect their various marketing activities and projects in a strategic and holistic way.

How We Use VPD Design Thinking To Impact Small and Large Businesses

Digital Strategy Roadmap Design PrimerI should note that we at Polymash use VPD in a slightly unorthodox way: We do not necessarily create fully fledged Shark Tank ready business plans and pitch decks for investors.

More often we use the initial stages of the VPD process to feed into our own Digital Strategy Design methodology, which creates actionable plans across multiple dimensions of a digital strategy roadmap.

And we do not focus only on supporting start-ups, but have found ways to help businesses of any size, including solopreneurs, small businesses and corporates. To see why this works so well for us, read on.

In short, we call this process “inbound design“, the intentional design patterns and practices that more easily allow you and your business to be customer centric, and as a result to attract, convert, close and delight your audience and turn them into customers.

How Does A VPD Workshop Function, And Who Should Attend?

Value Proposition Design Workshop as part of building a clients digital strategy roadmapIt is best to invite a facilitator familiar with the VPD process run the workshop. As far as attendees, we think that 3-25 stakeholders are a good size, depending on the size and complexity of the business or product set being worked on.

It is of course a good idea to get diverse representation from inside the business. Business owners or C-level execs, product management, marketing, operations and sales should all be represented. For small businesses the owners and supporters that know the business intimately can suffice.

But getting input from actual clients representing different customer segments is valuable. For example, if you were developing an educational product or business it would be great to have representation from students, teachers as well as parents.

VPD workshops can be conducted in a single day or spread out into smaller sessions in multiple days, but it will be difficult to be productive in just a few hours. Building a digital strategy is a strategic effort, and we recommend doing at least 2 sessions, usually on separate days.

  • Session One focuses on customer profiles, value maps and product marketing fit. It produces “Value Proposition Statements” as an end of session deliverable.
  • Session Two can have fewer attendees who focus on project planning as part of a larger digital strategy roadmap. This is achieved by feeding the VPD statements into each relevant dimension on our Digital Strategy CCC Process.

Suggested Workshop Sessions & Workflow

Session One

  • Identify Customer Segments to Work On
  • Use Sticky Notes and Dotmocracy to document ideas
  • Post-It App to digitize
  • Focus on Customer Profile First
  • Focus on Value Map Second
  • Produce Value Proposition Statements

Session Two

  • Recap Session One
  • Evaluate Potential Fits
  • Focus on Most Compelling VPD Statements
  • Digital Strategy Roadmap Design (CCC Process)
  • Follow Up Task and Project Plan

Workshop Trigger Questions

Example Trigger Questions for "Customer Jobs To Be Done" courtesy of Strategyzer.com

Example Trigger Questions, courtesy of Strategyzer.com

To stimulate thinking during the workshop, the VPD process provides a series of trigger questions that lead participants to consider aspects they may not have thought of before.

  • “Jobs to Be Done” trigger questions explore key jobs customers do, as well as contexts and even emotional states in which they operate.
  • “Pains” trigger questions focus on pains customers may experience in their daily lives, in terms of money, time, effort and frustrations they may encounter.
  • “Gains” trigger questions explore potential gains, in terms how saving time, cost, effort or increased quality can delight customers and lead them to achieve their aspirations.

Trigger questions are also used to explore your current of future products and services, and how well these products and services address gains or pains of each customer segment.

Customer Profile Trigger Questions

  • Customer Jobs
  • Customer Pains
  • Customer Gains

Value Map Trigger Questions

  • Pain Relievers
  • Gain Creators

Sticky Notes and Dotmocracy

VPD results for a client building a digital strategy roadmap with our processDepending on the number of people in the room, the activities can be split into sub-groups, each working a separate customer profile or product profile for example.

We use white boards with large VPD diagrams to work on, and place sticky notes with participant ideas to record all ideas.

The sticky notes can be prioritized and sorted in a number of ways. We are fond of “Dotmocracy” sorting, where every participant gets 10 small “dot” stickers they can vote with by placing a dot on the ideas they like best.


PostItPlus App used to create a digital strategy roadmapSide Note Alert:
There is a terrific way to capture and digitize these sticky notes along the way:

One of my favorite apps in this process is “Post-It Plus App”, which takes a photo of the entire white board and produces digital “sticky note” square images that can be assembled and used to create great looking workshop documentation and client reports after the session.

Click here for a video of this in action…

Value Proposition Statements

Example of a Value Proposition Statement, part of a digital strategy roadmap

Example VPD Statement

“Value Proposition Statements” are a quick but formalized way of describing how your products solve problems or create gains for each of your customer segments.

One has to experience the entire process to see how amazingly concise and nuanced the VPD can be for each customer segment. The format to follow is illustrated in the example to the right, taken from a recent educational website we are building for a client.

Finding “Fit”

Here you discover what sort of fit exists between your products and the needs of each market segment you have defined. In his VPD book Alex Osterwalder differentiates between three types of potential fit:

On Paper: Problem Solution Fit
This occurs when you have evidence that customers care about certain jobs, pains or gains, and have designed a VPD statement that matches your product or service up with these needs.
In The Market: Product Market Fit
Occurs when you have evidence that your existing products and services are actually solving customer pains and providing gains the market. In short, you are in the process of getting traction.
In the Bank: Business Model Fit
occurs when there is evidence that your VPD statements can be part of a sustainable and scalable business model

So Now What? How to make the VPD Statements Actionable

Steps in Building a Digital Strategy RoadmapThis is where the “rubber meets the road”. This is also where we at Polymash diverge from the rest of the VPD and Business Model Canvas process. We utilize a simple “Create, Chuck, Continue” (CCC Process) to define follow up tasks and projects as we evaluate strategic application areas. (More on this later)

The goal is to take the VPD insights gained, and to then apply the carefully crafted VPD statements to all segments of a digital strategy.

Application areas quickly become obvious.

1.) VPD Drives Content Strategy

Good VPD statement can drive Content Strategy. For example, clarity gained around customer segments and what they truly value will help you create an editorial calendar with more relevant topics for blog posts that better connect your target audience.

2.) VPD Drives Web Design and Re-Design

Think of how your web site is structured. Think about how it is laid out, the pages that exist today. Can VPD help you improve your site design to make the content more compelling, more relevant to your audience? Can you think of creating sections and content that better connect with your customers and “speaks” to their needs? The answer has been a resounding “yes” in our experience. It can inform what pages to A/B test, VPD design can drive SEO keyword and Google AdWords research, it can drive link building efforts, the list goes on.

3.) VPD Drives User Experience

Not all businesses have a UX practice in place, but many smaller and start-up businesses have at least built design personas to understand their customer better. VPD is terrific input into many UX processes, from Design Personas to Customer Journey Mapping or Core Model Designs.

4.) VPD Drives Marketing

When it comes to Marketing, there are too many application areas to even mention. Obviously VPD improves the overall marketing language by being more focused and clear about needs and wants of each customer segment. But it also provides a basis for social media posts, topics of content curation, targeted offers, discount strategy and so on. Applications are only limited by a marketers imagination.

5.) VPD Drives Analytics

Lastly, the overall VPD process creates clarity around what to measure and where to apply analytics. This can help in setting up Google analytics segmentation, can be used to drive SEO keyword research. And of course the output of analytics can then also be used to inform the next phase of validating, refining, changing and adjusting the overall strategy from year to year.

Building a Digital Strategy Roadmap: Our CCC Process

Building a Digital Strategy Roadmap does not need to be complex or expensive.

Polymash CCC Process for our digital strategy roadmap

One Example of our Polymash CCC Process Template

The overall investment of time is relatively low when compared to the results and ROI we have observed from this approach. And the way in which these insights can be executed can vary from simple to do lists to more robust project planning tools for larger businesses.

The process we use to build a holistic strategy road map is our Create, Chuck, Continue (CCC) process.

  • For each customer segment and for each Digital Strategy dimension we use this process to decide which activities need to take place (Create), what should be discontinued (Chuck), and what should be kept in place (Continue).

At the end of the entire workshop process, this will produce a high level road map of small or large projects that need to take place in each Digital Strategy Dimension listed above. This roadmap can then easily be transferred into to do lists, editorial calendars, social media scheduling tools or an organization’s project planning software.

Case Studies and Examples

Ready For Life digital strategy roadmap

I’m excited to be launching several new sites for clients who have gone through the entire VPD process. The client has been delighted with the VPD process, and has applied the insights to the user experience and web designs for his new site, as well as to his content strategy and all other aspects of the digital strategy roadmap we co-created.

Ready4Life

  • The first of these sites is called Ready4Life, it helps parents and kids by providing tools and a practical processes to help them know their strengths and discover opportunities in the world that need what they do best.

I’ll be posting additional case studies and success stories soon.

 

Afterword

If you’ve read this far, I thank you for bearing with me through this rather lengthy discussion on how we collaborate with our clients to build holistic digital strategy roadmaps.

Since starting Polymash as an app and web design and development company, we’ve observed that most of our engagements are never “just about creating an app” or “re-designing a web site”. When asking our clients fundamental questions about their business goals and reasons behind wanting to start a web or app project, a clear need for a holistic digital strategy usually emerged.

Starting with VPD and finishing with our Digital Strategy Roadmap process has made this a reality for our clients and has successfully produced significant and measurable results.

I’d love to hear your views, observations or questions around this process, please feel free to leave a comment or contact us at info@polymash.com.

This week in Hollywood: Adobe Max!

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For us in the Digital Publishing and App development world, this is an
interesting week. Watch out for Adobe MAX announcement about the Adobe Digital
Publishing Suite, and catch the keynote events live. For  those of us not able to attend this week’s Adobe MAX conference in person, below  are resources to follow along in social media, as well as a daily summary of all the action. Visit the paper.li magazine I’ve set up at  “This week in Hollywood: Adobe Max

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[button link=”http://max.adobe.com/online/” color=”silver” newwindow=”yes”] See Keynotes Live[/button]


[button link=”http://max.adobe.com/socialmedia/” color=”silver” newwindow=”yes”] AdobeMAX Social Media[/button]


[button link=”http://twitter.com/search/%23adobemax” color=”silver” newwindow=”yes”] AdobeMAX on Twitter[/button]
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[button link=”http://twitter.com/#!/AdobeDigitalPub” color=”silver” newwindow=”yes”] Adobe Digital Publishing on Twitter[/button]

[button link=”https://max.adobe.com/schedule/by-session/#” color=”silver” newwindow=”yes”] AdobeMAX Sessions[/button]

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