Sunday, August 7, 2011

Marketing: Value or Pain?

Every time I discuss our value proposition with a serial entrepreneur friend of mine, he stops me to ask "where is the pain?" And, he is absolutely correct. His point is that alleviating customer pain is a much more effective strategy than just offering value. Think about it. You will act immediately to avoid pain, but may put off something that adds value. Value can be a nice-to-have whereas relieving pain in an immediate need-to-have. Pain will absolutely cause customers to buy your products or services.

Like my friend, I find that too many entrepreneurs focus on the features and specifications of their products or services. I lead a technology company, and invention of cool features is especially prevalent in technology startups. Often, a technology company will have a go-to-market strategy focused around gee-wiz features and better technical specifications.

The personal computer market is a perfect example. PC manufacturers promote more GB of RAM and more GHz of processor speed. Why is this important? Why does the customer care about GB and GHz? I find it interesting that iPAD owners state the instant-on capability of the iPAD alleviates the pain of waiting minutes for a PC to boot. Why push for more GB and GHz when the pain is boot time? Believe me, I have felt this pain while trying to quickly change a plane reservation at an airport with my laptop PC.

Alleviating pain can take on many forms. Here are some examples:
  • solving a problem where customers have marginal or non-existent solutions,
  • providing a new capability that customers need for their emerging products or services, 
  • providing a capability at a price point that enables new customers or new use-cases,
  • providing efficiency or speed improvements that allow customers to meet requirements with fewer resources.
One final point: it is also critical that your marketing messaging communicate the customer pain and your solution to that pain. Your marketing message should be clear and quantifiable. For example, "Why miss your opportunity while waiting for your PC to boot? The iPAD boots in 5 seconds versus 2 minutes and 20 seconds for a laptop PC." Customers will absolutely buy your products or services if you find a way to alleviate their pain!

No comments:

Post a Comment