Category: Value Proposition

Look for agnostics, ignore atheists” – Guy Kawasaki

In customer discovery, and in marketing your product, you will encounter people who are passionate about their existing solution.  That’s ok.  Loyalties develop and it’s really hard to break that relationship.  It will lead you to competition bashing and when you sling mud, everybody gets muddy.

You are better off seeking those who are still searching for a solution.  Maybe the existing solution is too expensive or maybe it is too loaded down with useless features.  Maybe it’s a different audience all together.

Southwest Airlines went to smaller cities and offered scaled down services for a specific type of traveler.  They flew one type of aircraft and made you pick your seat when you sat down.  They balanced with with a superior customer experience. Then they changed air travel all together.

Read “Reality Check” by Guy Kawasaki

Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson


“People don’t buy paint. They buy painted walls.” – Seth Godin

Another way to say it is, “People don’t buy drills.  They buy holes.”

There are a lot of features available today in the common hand drill; battery operated, variable speed, reversible, etc.  Manufacturers use bright colors and interchangeable parts and price to try to differentiate their products.  But features are just one part of the value proposition.

A product is acquired to enable a customer to accomplish a goal.  The features that make that goal easier to attain are the ones that matter most.  The rest are eye candy.

Read Purple Cow by Seth Godin.

Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“If too many people believe [in your startup] out of the gate, you aren’t thinking big enough.” – Jason Jacobs, Founder and CEO of Runkeeper

Entrepreneurs create change.

Change is hard.  People will have to give up they way it has always been.  Some will have much to lose.

Another way to look at it is if you are not getting much negative feedback, you haven’t talked to enough people.

You need to find that pain point where people have a strong reaction to your narrative.  It helps define your market and it surely will refine your value proposition.  The word “refine” often means to purify through the application of heat.


Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson


“If all the economists were laid end to end, they’d never reach a conclusion” – George Bernard Shaw

One of our client companies increased their real estate business 300% in the worst real estate economy in modern times.  Another friend increased his mortgage business over 100% a year during the same time.

During rough economic times, people are still in need of a solution to their problems.  People in this case still needed to buy and sell homes at a time when values crashed and loans were hard to get.  The entrepreneur finds the pony in the pile.

Tough times define new opportunities.  The “experts” are good at explaining why things are bad.  Listen to them NOT!


Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“Gold is everywhere but it’s very rare” – Barry Goss

Understanding customer value is like panning for gold.  Of course once in a while you find a nugget of consequence but most of the time you have to collect a little dust here and there.  After a while, it adds up.

You can’t just ask 10 people what they think about your idea and then go raise funding.  If it were my money, I’d want evidence that you have interviewed a hundred or more.    Better yet, sell a prototype to a hundred or more.

Gold pans are cheap… 10 bucks or so.  And it’s designed to do the one most important thing, pan for gold.

So it is with your prototype.  Make it fast, make it cheap and give it to lots of people.

That’s where the gold is!

“A million guys walk in to a Silicon Valley bar. None of them buy anything. The bar is declared a rousing success.” – Hiten Shah

This was a great Twitter post from @Li_x_Jiang, retweeted by @hnshah 

This obviously speaks to free content and the popular “Freemium” business model, where a 2% conversion to paid services is a huge success….. 2%.  That means it takes a million free users to get 20,000 paying customers.  Silicon Valley may support those odds but it’s tough everywhere else.

Consider owning 15 – 20% of a much smaller universe.  You do that by understanding your markets really well and solving specific problems for those customers in that market.

There are still a lot of people who pay for good music!

“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” – Peter Drucker

I like Guy Kawasaki’s “MBA on a slide”.  He has four scenarios about startups:

  1. If you not particularly good at doing something no ones cares about, well you’re
  2. If you are really really good at something no one cares about, well then you’re just plain stupid
  3. If you are pretty good at something a lot of people want, you may have to compete on price but you can be successful
  4. If you are really really good at something everybody wants, that’s where you want to be.

Good technology and efficient processes are best applied to large problems in large and growing markets.  Drucker calls it the Defensible Value Proposition.

Talent without a market is a hobby.  Talent with a large and growing market is a phenomenal business.