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Understanding expectations is the first important step to take, but obviously, it’s only the beginning of the journey. If we have worked well in the previous phase, we have all the necessary elements to take the second step: designing the value to be transferred to our target customers.

From understanding to strategy

In this step, we need to create a connection between what we have understood that customers expect from us and what we can and want to do. Designing the value (or as it is said, the value proposition) to transfer to the market. It should be the result of a very natural process: there are needs and expectations, and we can build an offer capable of satisfying them.

However, there is a transition between the previous phase and this one. That is, considering that we do not act in a vacuum; there is context, and there are competitors.

Because the fact that there are needs is not enough; there must also be the space to satisfy these needs. So, if we have identified our Buyer Personas, we must also hypothesize how well or poorly our competitors are working to meet their needs and expectations.

And if we are already operational in the market, we must add a very honest assessment of how well or poorly we are also working.

The questions to ask are:

  • Are we transferring value to the market?
  • Is it the value that matters?
  • How are our competitors doing?
  • Are there spaces to respond to currently neglected needs?

Value and its components

All exchange operations that take place on the market imply a two-way transfer of value. The price paid by the customer is value that is given in exchange for other value that is acquired. The task of the company at this stage is to design the value that is acquired by customers, which is a composite entity to be carefully analyzed.

According to us, it is articulated in at least 4 components:

Technical – functional
This component refers to the technical performance of the product or service we are proposing to the market.

For example, if we sell a smartphone, it includes memory, weight, dimensions, screen quality, and battery life. In the case of a training course, it includes the total duration, the modules it is divided into, and the format (online-offline). If we are a restaurant, it includes the menu, the ingredients used, and the type of cuisine.

Psychological – emotional
It is the component that refers to the emotional sphere.

For example, in the case of a smartphone, brand and design, color, etc. If we sell a course, it includes the prestige of the institution, the quality of the teachers involved, the community of participants, and the possibility of networking. In the case of a restaurant, it includes the setting, the decor, and the presence of a famous chef in the kitchen.

Logistical – organizational
This component considers the elements around the product/service that complete the experience.

For example, if our company sells smartphones, it includes warranty, assistance methods, availability (physical or online store), and delivery times (in the case of online purchases). In the case of a course, it includes the size of the classrooms and the location of the school, the software used to deliver the lessons if the course is online, the certificate of completion and its eventual recognition by various institutions, and the satisfaction guarantee. In the case of a restaurant, it includes the possibility of reaching the venue, the existence of parking, and any certifications (vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, etc.).

Economic – speculative
The last component includes aspects related to the protection (or yield) of the investment.

For example, in the case of a smartphone, it includes the product’s lifespan and the possibility of reselling it at a certain value after a certain period of time. In the case of a course, it includes the possibility of obtaining career or salary benefits once the course has been completed. If we are considering a restaurant, it includes the possibility of obtaining benefits if the experience was positive, for example, in the case of a business lunch or a romantic dinner.

Designing value means thoroughly considering these components, and their relative importance for our target customers to define action priorities.

These categories are not mutually exclusive. A logistical-organizational component (for example, certification in the case of a course) can also play a psychological-emotional role for some. The important thing is to have a reference framework to try to decode the elements that make up the value for which the customer pays and proceed with its design.

Competitive analysis

Once the list of selection criteria adopted by the Buyer Personas has been made, it is time to move on to the evaluation we mentioned earlier. Are the actors present in the market (including us if we are already operational) doing well in meeting those needs and expectations? If they are not, what is missing? What maneuvering spaces exist?

Each of the listed needs is a Key Success Factor (KSF) characterized by a certain relative importance (they obviously do not all weigh the same) and each competitor active in the market will have a certain performance in satisfying that specific KSF. It will be reasonable to expect that the relatively more successful competitors are those who are better at satisfying customer expectations.

There are many ways to think about value, but it must be evident that whoever buys our product or service is rarely interested in the product or service itself or in the company that makes it. They will be more interested in the so-called WIIFM (What’s In It For Me): what will be the impact of the act of purchase on their lives? How will this act transform them into a better version of themselves?

This happens every time and for every purchase decision. Those who neglect this aspect lose an important piece of the story. And leave space to competitors.

Next step: action

The ability to satisfy customers therefore depends both on correctly decoding their expectations and on the ability to design value, to define a value configuration potentially able to satisfy them.

The game is to build Buyer Personas and describe them well, in depth, paying particular attention to the chapter of concerns because those will be the “win conditions” to refer to when designing the value of our solutions.

If we have worked well from this point of view, we will have now built a blueprint, a guideline for the realization of the products and services to offer to the market. Because we haven’t started making them yet.

If, on the other hand, we are already present in the market with an offer, we will surely have much clearer ideas about the changes to make to increase our chances of success.

It’s time to take action.