If you have a podcast, then one of your top priorities will be to increase your audience size. After all, if you create a podcast to which no one listens, does it even matter?

So at first glance, you may think that running Facebook Ads would be an excellent vehicle to promote your podcast and help increase your listening numbers and subscribers. After all, Facebook will allow you to finely target your audience and do it in a very cost-effective way.

My point with this post is not so much to argue that Facebook is inherently a poor platform to advertise podcasts on, but rather to point out that there is a better way to do podcast marketing than most marketers recommend.

There has been a slew of recent posts on how to best advertise podcasts on Facebook, and I fundamentally disagree with the premise of these posts. Here is why:

So what’s the problem with using Facebook Ads to promote your podcast?

The issue has to do with where to send traffic once someone clicks on your ad.

So many marketers recommend promoting Facebook episodes by directly linking to the iTunes or Android episode pages.

  • They argue this is better than sending people to a show notes page on your site
  • In fact, many of these posts argue that you don’t need show notes pages at all, and can save the time and effort
  • They say that iTunes and Stitcher is after all where you want people to go to subscribe to your show
  • They advise that this is the best way to capture people on mobile devices, by targeting an iOS audience for the direct link to the iTunes episode, and by targeting Android audience and sending them to the Stitcher episode link

I fundamentally disagree with promoting your iTunes and Stitcher podcast links  for the following five reasons:


It Costs Too Much

Sure, your ads may result in getting more subscribers to your podcast on iTunes and Stitcher, but Facebook podcast marketing ads should have a better goal than just to add listeners to your podcast. And the cost per new listener is usually quite high.

Think of it this way, in terms of analytics: “Cost per anonymous listener” IS NOT THE SAME THING AS “Cost per qualified lead or email subscriber.” You could be adding leads for your business, building your email list, increase the rank and traffic for your site, and building a digital asset for your brand.

Instead, you could be getting greater value and ROI from your Facebook ads by focusing on lead generation and list growth instead of on just getting more listeners.


iTunes and Google Play Do Not Need More Traffic From Your Facebook Podcast Marketing

promote-your-podcast-on-itunesYou are paying for traffic that you are sending to iTunes and Google Play Music.


Instead, your site could be benefitting from greater traffic, rank, and authority.


Blind Dates

promote your podcast with a blind dateiTunes and Google play traffic may slightly increase your subscriber and listener stats at Libsyn or Blubrry. Of course, this cannot truly be measured, since Facebook won’t know how many listeners subscribed to your show on those platforms.

More importantly, you don’t know whose these listeners are. Since you are not capturing their email address, you have much less of a chance to engage with them, even if they are big fans of your show. If you don’t manage to send them to your website and show pages, you are essentially going on blind dates – without ever even asking for a name. So, a very passive way to promote your podcast.

Instead, your podcast listeners could be coming to YOUR site, because you offer valuable additional episode information there. They could be signing up to receive podcast notifications via email, or finding links and resources about your guests, and downloading these resources from you in exchange for an email address.

So, during your podcast, make sure you mention an easy to remember episode show notes link like “mypodcast.com/132” – and mention this often, for example at the start of the show, create your own mid-roll segment inviting people to visit your site, and include it again in the outro.


No Digital Sharecropping

facebook podcast marketing without digital sharecropping in promoting your podcastIn my opinion, too many authors, speakers, entrepreneurs and small businesses spread their entire online presence across 3rd party platforms. They want authority and recognition in their space but are also conscious of the promised audience, engagement, ease of use and time savings these platforms promise.

They post all of their valuable intellectual capital and thought leadership content on platforms like Medium, LinkedIn or Facebook instant articles. Their videos exist only on Youtube, their podcasts episode only on Soundcloud, iTunes or Stitcher. In other words, on platforms they themselves don’t own outright, but platforms that have a built-in audience and engagement.

In the long run, this is short-sighted

What to do instead? I am not proposing to avoid these platforms. However, I am saying that traffic to promote your podcast should land on your site.

And this content should live on your own site FIRST AND FOREMOST, and then be shared from there centrally, spreading out to 3rd party platforms for social engagement. Especially if you are using Podcasting as Content Strategy.

The effort involved in creating and maintaining your podcast show notes are well worth it in the long run and pales in comparison to the effort of actually creating your content in the first place. You need to build system for sharing from this central platform only once – the week to week effort of recording episodes and publishing show notes for them adds up only gradually, and much of the process and subsequent syndication of your content can be automated.

For our clients, we specialize in automation of the entire podcast production and publishing workflow, including automatically syndicating your episode content onto many other platforms. The content calendar tools and automation processes we use for this is the topic of another upcoming post, feel free to subscribe to our blog to learn more.

In short, having your own SEO optimized podcast show notes pages allow you to build a much more valuable asset on your site, audience, and email list. Would you not rather have free traffic and rank for your site? Would you not rather earn organic search traffic over time? And I think most marketers would agree that email lists are still the most valuable asset to build for your digital presence. Overlooking the SEO value of your show notes pages is one of the deadly podcast marketing sins I write about elsewhere on this blog.

The Importance of Building A Conversion Optimized Podcast Home Page

Podcast Website Design Patterns For Conversion And List Building

If you agree with the idea that your site is a valuable way to gain podcast subscribers, then you will want to build a great conversion optimized podcast home page. We recently published a video walkthrough which showcases a highly converting podcast website design pattern called “The Upside Down Podcast Home Page”.


Analytics & Measuring Performance

How do you measure your investment in Facebook ads? For me the answer is how many people SIGN UP for your podcast or blog, NOT how many more listeners you might be getting on iTunes.

Before running ad campaigns on Facebook, you get to decide the “Goal” of each ad campaign during the setup process. Simply measuring “clicks to a website” is the weakest form of available analytics, yet this is the only goal you can use when sending traffic to iTunes or Stitcher.

Facebook cannot measure who subscribed to your podcast on iTunes or Stitcher, or even if they listened to an episode after clicking on your ad. So how do you optimize or test your ads? If you are sending your ad traffic to iTunes and Stitcher as proposed by many marketers, then the only way you can tell if these ads are even working is to see if your Libsyn or Blubrry stats increased during the time you ran the ad. And of course, even then you don’t know the identity of the people who subscribed.

promote your podcast and know your numbers

A recent marketing webinar from SharpSpring pointed out that focus on conversion rate was by far the most important metric to measure.

A better goal is to measure “Conversions”, and Facebook algorithms are more effective in showing your ads to the best possible and highly “converting” audience. However, for this you need to install a “Facebook Pixel” on your site, so that actual sign-ups to your podcast email subscription list can be recorded on Facebook. Having a Facebook Pixel on your site is not complicated, there are great plugins for this. (My favorite is PixelYourSite, which makes installation and managing Facebook Pixels a snap)

Facebook then improves the targeting of who they show your ads to, based on who signed up, and builds in effect a custom audience for your on the fly during the campaign. This results in a much better use of your advertising dollar.


IMHO, having a highly converting home page for your podcast is critically important – to promote your podcast and build a subscriber list outside of iTunes. And so is having episode specific show notes pages. Most good podcasts already do. So if the way you promote your podcast is to be sending Facebook ad traffic directly to your episode pages on iTunes and Stitcher, I’d encourage you to do otherwise.


FREE 2018 Podcasting Resources Guide: Launch and market your podcast

  • check
    Gear Guides
  • check
    "How To" Tutorials
  • check
    Music & Sound Effect Libraries
  • check
    Software & Tools
  • check
    Guest Booking Services
  • check
    General Podcasting Sites & Groups
Podcasting Resources Guide

Where can we send your guide?

Last updated April 24, 2017

Are you a group coach or facilitator?

mastermind online groupIn recent years the tools around facilitating and teaching masterminds online have really taken a leap forward. Video streaming, Blab, Periscope, Hangouts and other platforms like Zoom and Skype have matured to the point where meaningful group coaching can easily be delivered on-line.

The emergence of the “Mastermind Online” format

It is not only the technology that has matured. One popular and collaborative modality of group coaching is the mastermind concept. In the age of the solo entrepreneur, collaborative support and group coaching from peers and like minded entrepreneurs has become not only popular, but almost a necessary ingredient to success. And from our “inbound design” perspective, this format is hugely attractive because focus on the actual participant needs and agendas are built in.

Add to this the fact that physical location is no longer a huge obstacle in our ever connected world, and the mastermind format is a perfect formula for on-line collaboration.

In a peer group environment, facilitation and leadership is still required

Masterminds online revolve around the concept that all participants are getting equal time to talk about what they are working on, and taking turns so that one person in the group may have the “hot seat” and benefit from the brainstorming of all participants in that session. But this does not mean that masterminds can self-organize.

In fact, the role of the facilitator or founder of the mastermind is very important, when it comes to ensuring that people show up in the first place, stick to the agenda, and also in providing facilitator notes and a space for resources.

Supporting masterminds beyond video conferencing apps

Assistive technologies are springing up, and having a mastermind membership site to support the group can be a big bonus. Consider the following possibilities:

mastermind online appsBenefits to the mastermind online participants

  • A central place for replays of each sessions
  • Transcripts of each session
  • Facilitator journals for each session
  • On-line courses and other resources like e-Books
  • Discussion forums and threads for members (instead of Facebook groups where topics are lost in a timeline)
  • Event calendars

Benefits to group coaches and mastermind online facilitators

  • A sales page for your mastermind group
  • Multiple payment options, one-time, recurring, free trials, renewals, credit card changes
  • Automated payment processing
  • An affiliate referral system to reward your friends and colleagues who refer someone into your mastermind group
  • Affiliate Discounts for members who bring someone else into your group
  • Automated book-keeping and payouts to affiliates



Use these 51 fundamental tips for success & profits


51 tips for running mastermind groups online
  • ​Is group coaching right for you?
  • Fundamentals & best practices
  • Monetization & when to charge
  • The best online platforms
  • Where the most leadership is needed
  • Managing rotations
  • And much more...

Canary in the coal mine: How often do you need to re-design your site?

We always ask our clients about what insights finally prompted them to take action to re-invent, re-launch or re-design.

The stories that emerge are often quite compelling, and a good indication of how rapidly things are changing in the online world.

In many cases the realization that their site was “out of date” is prompted by lower business performance, less traffic, lower site rank, fewer people signing up to email lists and so on.

Yet a common perception persists that a site upgrade is largely a cosmetic exercise.

This is just a canary in a coal mine, an indication of more important things that may be going amiss.

Unwelcome news – or digital transformation opportunity in disguise?

unwelcome news or digital transformation opportunitySo it comes as unwelcome news that more deep-rooted causes may be at play. Here you thought all you needed was a new theme, or a cosmetic site upgrade, and the next thing you hear is that online behavior and consumption patterns may have changed enough in the last few years to re-examine not only the type of content but even your existing business models on your site.

But “unwelcome news” can actually be re-framed as an opportunity in disguise

We live in an age or accelarating change, disruption and re-invention. Web sites are not immune, and the typical life-span of a site is now 2-3 years. The opportunity is to use the catalyst of re-designing a site to look more deeply at the health of your online business strategies, and to upgrade your content, product and list building strategies at the same time.

Age discrimination – or failing to address shifting demographics?

When we dig down into the causes of “outdated websites”, some folks understandably get defensive about their existing online presence.

  • People are proud of their older sites, even when they realize a change is needed
  • It worked well in the past
  • A lot of effort and expense went into the design

When I was a graphic design a photography student, this is the sign that hung above our darkroom:

The first line of defense is usually to blame the design or visual appeal of the site itself. And the last thing anyone wants to look at are more deeply rooted business decisions or product strategies. And there are usually other, deeper factors at play, as people’s online behavior, preferences and content consumption patterns are continually changing.

  • Attention spans have gotten shorter
  • Mobile devices may be a slight misnomer: it’s people who are in fact mobile, constantly connected and expectating to consume and engage with content on the go
  • User interface design has changed to accomodate mobile responsive screens
  • The rise of short form social media sharing has shaped our communication patterns
  • Email marketing and list building methods (as well as overall content strategy) have changed.
  • If a site is older than 5 years, there is a likely significant shift in the demographic of site visitors

So the term “age discrimination” is a bit harsh – it’s not that younger people are intentionally avoiding our content; we may simply be missing the opportunity to present our content in a way that honors evolving consumer preferences.

Evolving content preferences

I actually seem to see a big “age” related phenomena, in terms of long form emails and newsletters preferences still prevalent with Baby Boomer (50-64) and Greatest Generation (65+) consumers. It requires patience and a certain attention span to read long emails and newsletters. However for consumers below 40, super short skimmable content is increasingly necessary.

  • So from a persona perspective, list building and newsletter success these days may depend on nailing the age group persona being targeted, and being flexible enough to adjust to their preferences in the delivery format and perceived value of content.

I am constantly working with clients my age (in their 50s) that write hugely long form blog posts, lead magnets and emails, and somehow fail to connect with the younger audience that would like to attract and ultimately target.

Some tips to “Shorten Up”

  • Our recommendation is to write extremely short paragraphs, and to break paragraphs up with (H2) headlines frequently. This introduces white space into the copy, and makes content much more “skimmable”.
  • If you have an email newsletter, resist sending entire articles to your list. Instead offer short and concise headlines, a thumbnail image and teaser excerpts that encourage your newsletter readers to visit your blog for the rest of the story, earning you SEO credit in the process.
  • My theory is that writing for short attention span, skimmable content, design patterns with lots of white-space and emphasis on 1-3 minute videos are necessary to connect with a younger audience, and this is a skill that few of us older, “long form” and academic types are good at:)

Evolving pricing strategies for content owners and digital product creators

We work with a lot of content owners and digital product creators, and we often see pricing and overall product strategies for knowledge products lagging behind in a way similar to web design patterns.

The same dynamics of changing consumer preferences apply, and just as some content owners are resiting to shorter content formats, they also resist lower their digital product pricing to accomodate the market.

Of course there can not be a hard and fast rules for this, and I do not mean to imply that the overall value based pricing should be diminished.
But consumer perception on price points for knowledge products and what the market will bear for typical courses or coaching experiences change. The fact that 100s if not 1000s of online courses, universities and learning tools have sprung up in the last few years have, in my optioning, changed the perceived value and landscape of e-learning.

Some work-around tips and possible examples of alternative pricing approaches

  • I see a lot of people re-positioning and breaking up their existing mega-courses or mega digital products into bite sized components that can withstand the markets price expectation and preference for a la carte learning.
  • To launch a mega product or course as the first offering is considered my many to be a productization mistake
  • Modern courseware and digital product environments accommodate free content or courses as appetizers, and then very low cost bite sized courses as the core offering, and finally membership models and premium benefits of “in person” experiences being offered as part of a community site.
  • So in the end the same amount of content can be broken up and presented in smaller and more a la carte ways, while at the same time lowering price points and attracting a new audience.

Conclusion & Recommendations

  • Don’t just think of your site re-design project as a cosmetic excercise
  • Talk to a digital strategist, not just to web designers, and have a more wide-rangingconversation about hidden opportunities you may be overlooking
  • Too many people would rather be hurt by compliments than saved by criticism: Be open to wider ranging changes to your products, services, pricing and content
  • Download our “Ultimate Website Re-Design Checklist” and be honest with yourself.

Robyn-StrattonRobyn Stratton of positivitystrategist.com

Remaining Relevant

As a solopreneur, this is a story about rebranding, reinventing, and realigning my online persona in the digital marketplace. It’s a journey about moving with the times.  After all, remaining relevant and essential in this increasingly complex, diverse and multifaceted world is an important issue for all of us and it takes investments.  Investments in our thinking, emotional and physical energies. It’s about identifying digital strategies, finding the right resources and talent to help make strategic choices and positive changes.

The term solopreneur began to be socialized from around 2010, yet in my research, I found a definition dating back to 2005.  That being said, today, it’s a well known term and there are increasing numbers of us out there making a living as one person businesses.

Transitioning to Solopreneurship

As a solopreneur, I used to be extra precious about my content, my services, my clients, my brand and hoped everyone who stumbled on my website would immediately love my content as much as I did.

digital strategies as a woman solopreneurBecoming comfortable as a solopreneur was a transition in identity for me, because when I had my first website, 16 years ago in 1999, I was shy about positioning myself as a solo act.  I had come from big consulting background.  It didn’t seem professional to talk about myself in the first person singular on my earlier websites. Instead the company was positioned as a consortium of consultants, a group of associates, so I wrote in the in the first person plural – “we” do this and that; “our clients” are xyz.  It felt too early to say I worked from home and I was alone.  I was nervous to admit, I did it all on my own.

Well, things have changed and with the employment scene as it has been for the last 10 years and with entrepreneurs and solopreneurs, solo practitioners being the norm, it’s no longer a stigma to say:

“I am my own company and it’s great!”

Website Evolutions

Since 1999, I’ve had 7 websites. It’s the last four websites, since 2006, that have evolved to ever higher performing platforms increasing strategic value with each evolution.

Until 6 years ago, I kept my “professional’  website separate from my newly created WordPress blog.  As my blogging site grew, it became increasingly clearer to me that the boundaries between my professional persona  and my personal persona were dissolving.  I was writing stories that spoke to my passion (in fact my first blog was called pursuingpassions.com) and my passion was my work, because I do work I love and it informs who I am.

Fast track to my most recent evolution, when I got really strategic. Ten months ago I had a BFO – a blinding flash of the obvious.  My website was tired looking, it was dated and even though it had been converted to be mobile optimized, it still wasn’t reflecting my own self-perception of being current, and a thought leader in my field.

Embracing Digital Strategies

It was time to reassess and update, and follow my own advice that I give to clients about the need to re-invent yourself and get clarity about your purpose, strengths, and potential legacy.

Inbound Marketing

I’m super excited about the results. For me, rebranding to Positivity Strategist from my former Positive Matrix identity has been very exciting because I was coached to follow an inbound marketing content strategy. It was a significant, and hugely valuable undertaking.

Juergen Berkessel, CEO of Polymash, has become my digital strategist, guiding me to understand how to begin to increase the visibility of my web presence in the  world.  He coached me in a workshop format to complete value proposition design and persona development activities that have helped me appreciate and segment my clients. This has shaped content and refined language on my website; and with that awareness, I now can write more targeted content that more specifically relates to their needs.

Podcasting as a Content Strategy

Polymash also recommended I start a podcast as a content strategy, and took over the production of it in order to grow my content offering, thereby positioning my leadership in my field and increasing traffic to my website. There are many search engine and traffic generating aspects to this as outlined in How to Start A Podcast As Content Strategy in 2015

Marketing Automation and SEO

Inbound Content Marketing DashboardI’ve begun to appreciate and follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) best practices for producing all of my content, and am making use of marketing automation software that allows me to grow my email list. I can now better understand how anonymous site visitors or email subscribers behave on my site, and I can better respond to their behavior in order to engage and serve them. Ultimately many of these anonymous visitors are opting in specific service and content offers, and relationships are strengthening.

Expanding the Platform

On-line Courses as Content Strategy

Udemy Course as Content StrategyBecause I’m a writer, speaker, trainer and, therefore produce a lot of content, the next piece of advice my coach offered me to grow my content marketing capability was to create an online training course in my field of expertise.  I have just launched my first Udemy course Be an Agent for Positive Change: Positivity Strategies and accompanying that is the creation of a YouTube Channel, showcasing my course, and also Slideshare presentations.  The blogging continues and I’ve just started to produce regular posts on LinkedIn, and the Udemy course will result in dozens future posts.

Tracking Progress

Positivity Strategist Alexa RankIn less than 10 months, with the guidance of my digital strategies coach, my brand new domain name, Positivity Strategist with a zero Alexa ranking has grown organically to being the #1.5M most popular site world wide and #235,539 in the US,  outranking many well-known brands and established websites in my professional field, and an increasing amount of visitors and opt-ins are the result of my SEO optimized content being found on Google and other search engines .

Professional Growth is a Bonus Benefit

Not only has my website gone from non-existent to a viable presence on line, I have learnt and grown enormously in the last 10 months.  What I had absolutely no appreciation for in the the past, I now appreciate and practice.  I can perform many of these activities with greater ease and therefore I experience joy.  My professional development in the areas of speaking, interviewing, writing have improved because I’m using them all the time.

A huge discovery has been to accept that I can use automated tools and software. It’s not so complex; and, it is so rewarding! And for tasks I used to moan and groan about, I’m reaping the rewards.  Just one example is researching the right key words to improve the search ranking of every piece of content I write.  I hated doing that, as I just wanted to write fun titles for my posts.

It was tough to make the changes, yet I have now successfully habituated them and I am seeing huge benefits.  It’s been a great 10 month journey and I am truly grateful.

Part 2 of 2

This is the second post in a series about Value Proposition Design and focuses on a technique to build a digital strategy roadmap using the VPD methodology. The series covers what Value Proposition Design is, what its benefits are and how it fits into a larger Digital Strategy. Click here for part 1. Also, stay tuned for our updated Digital Strategy Resources Guide.

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 point 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. For a good overview of the canvas, check out this Business Model Canvas post on Floship. 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 of 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 subset 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.

Appreciative Inquiry is Asset Based ThinkingAnother point of differentiation is that we start by focusing on existing assets, rather than on deficits. Starting with what already works well and can be built upon is a more energizing experience for clients to work on, rather than on solely zooming in on gaps that exist. The “Strength-Based Approach” we use is based on applying “Appreciative Inquiry” methodology. It creates a more collaborative and blame-free environment, with people more willingly contributing and implementing changes, all the while feeling like they are co-creating their own digital future presence.

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 whiteboards 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 whiteboard 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 website 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 roadmap 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 roadmap 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.

Strategy Roadmap 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.


  • 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.

Positivity Strategist

Good Dad Project

  • The Good Dad Project uses value proposition design patterns to help the audience self select into segments on parenting, fitness or relationships, all topics that provide different resources to each audience.

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


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 website”. When asking our client’s 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 about this process, please feel free to leave a comment or contact us at info@polymash.com.

Part 1 of 2


Flying At 10,000 Feet Vs. Being In The Weeds

Have you ever had a client who you think has “no attention to detail?”

Do their eyes glaze over as soon as you start talking about the particulars of your proposed web design, investment in UX, SEO, Analytics, PR? Sound familiar to the web designers, SEO folks, content marketers, UX practitioners?

Value Proposition Design LensWe as designers and service providers tend to spend much of your time in the weeds – operating at a detail level that our clients or bosses may have no interest in or patience for.

And our clients, as business owners, are often operating at 10,000 feet. Some may feel inadequate about their own domain expertise when it comes to technical details. And some “get it”, but don’t want, or need, to be involved in understanding the implementation.

It is rare that you get a client or boss who wants to understand and learn the ins and outs of our craft, whatever it may be. Read more