No Pain, No Gain

Look for the pain, look for the gain

As we hurtle towards March, fed on a TV diet of How to Lose Weight Well and mailings of gym memberships and ‘miracle’ weight loss solutions, I have sickening ennui of the whole business of ‘ no pain, no gain ’. But crucially, that’s the point, because some of these peddlers of dietary/exercise solutions have failed to give any real thought to what my pains actually are and what I really have to gain.

And this is fundamentally where a lot of new product and service designers go wrong when they produce something claiming to improve customers’ lives. A staggering 72%* of new innovations fail to deliver on expectations because the company has not properly considered the pain relief or gains that their target audience could achieve.

Gains and Pains
Figure 1

This process is often referred to as a value proposition (fig. 1), it’s essentially a tool that enables you to visualise, design and test how you create value for customers. It’s a model that we use before undertaking any new client project.

It doesn’t matter if it’s creating a new brand or rebrand, overhauling a website, designing a marketing campaign or producing new content, our objective is always to identify what the end user wants, which is not always the same as what the client thinks its target consumer wants!

We’ve conducted the value proposition exercise with several clients to better understand what value the end user or customer would actually derive from the product or service. The value is not always financial, it could be related to time, ease of use, self-improvement etc.

Once we have our findings, which we usually acquire from face to face meetings with target customers, we share them with the client and use that as a foundation on which to create content/imagery. The exercise proves not only beneficial to us in terms of shaping messaging and visual interest but it also provides valuable insight for our clients.

For example, if we were working with a coffee pod/capsule machine manufacturer and end users revealed that speed of delivery was most important to them we would focus on that rather talk about aesthetics, coffee taste, temperatures etc.

With the customer profile, what we’re looking to ascertain is the job that needs to get done by the product or service. Is it functional i.e getting from A to B, is it social i.e. all about impressing peers, or is it emotional i.e. providing peace of mind. Then we need to understand the pains related to that job and where other solutions fail in promised expectations.

In terms of gains, we need to get a feel for how customers measure success, what results they expect from products or services. These profiles enable us to better visualise, test and track our understanding of creating value for customers.

Armed with this profiling we then apply it to the brand we are working with and value map how its product or service will create gains or relieve pain points. Once it is all laid out, we can then see what will resonate best with end users and use that to craft messages and images to communicate what matters most.

Good value propositions target essential customer jobs, pains and gains very well and while they may be many and varied, the value map highlights the ones we intend to major on.

You may think we’re talking about features and benefits here, and we are and we aren’t. Manufacturers and service provide may promote features they believe are the most beneficial but unless they have done a value proposition they won’t be able to rank which are most important or may discover they haven’t included the very one feature rated most important.

Meantime, once a company comes up with a get fit solution that allows me to achieve my ‘beach body’ by lazing around eating and drinking what I want and still feeling good about myself let me know!

*Source: Simon-Kucher & Partners, 2014