SOLUTION AND UNIQUE VALUE PROPOSITION
By the end of this week, you should be able to answer:
- What does your competitor landscape look like?
- What is your Unique Value Proposition?
- What is your solution?
- What is your advantage over the competition?
Now that you have talked to your target customers and developed a deep understanding of problems they are facing, it is time to look at the solution you will provide. You obviously already have an idea about the solution you might offer but now is a chance to go back to the drawing board and take a fresh look at your solution in light of what you have learned about your customer.
In order to generate a strong solution, you will also need to understand how your competitors are addressing your customers’ problem. Once you know that, you need to think about how your team’s unfair advantage and understanding of your target customers will allow you to offer those customers a unique value proposition. Once you have figured out these things, defining your solution will be easy.
IDENTIFYING YOUR COMPETITOR LANDSCAPE
Every problem needs to be looked at in the context of who else is already offering a solution to your problem. It is tempting to reach the conclusion that you do not have any competitors because you no one may be doing exactly what you are doing. But think broadly about people who may be solving your problem in different ways and remember that having competitors is actually a great thing because it confirms that your problem is real.
If we take an example of someone looking to gift a bespoke notebook. Someone who would otherwise buy an upcycled notebook as a special gift for a friend may choose to instead spend their money on a customised notebook using a website like Vistaprint. They would rather do this than buy a notebook from a stationery chain store because they want the gift to be practical but unique and they don’t want to gift something generic that most people can easily buy.
So one way to think about your competitors is to understand the behaviours of your customers:
What would your customers do in the absence of your product or service?
Where would they go as the alternative to solving their problem?
To answer this, you must first have a good grasp of the problem.
EXERCISE: Write down the things you can think of that your target market(s) would be doing to solve the problem in absence of your solution.
Try to be as pragmatic as possible with this exercise. Look at it from the perspective of convenience for your customers - is your solution making their life easier? If they aren’t using your solution, what are they doing to eliminate the same problem? This will give you an indication whether or not your solution is genuinely alleviating the problem, or whether it is just another company to navigate through.
WHAT IS YOUR UNFAIR ADVANTAGE?
In business, we should all strive to have unfair advantages over our competition. An unfair advantage is an element or solution in your business which is not easily replicable and ensures that against your competitors, you have a far better solution.
A great illustration of the difference between real unfair advantage from a weak one is the difference between organic Search Engine Optimization ranking versus paid keywords for search engine marketing. Keywords can be easily copied and bought by your competitors, while organic ranking has to be earned.
Some examples of unfair advantages are:
Exclusive partnerships with leading manufacturers
Patent approval on common technology element
Extensive team experience in business field
EXERCISE: Think about any unfair advantages you have or will seek to develop over your competitors. Note down your unfair advantages in categories such as team, technology, industry, etc.ke some time on the above exercise, it will be the base with which you begin to determine your overall problem and solution.
WHAT IS YOUR UNIQUE VALUE PROPOSITION?
A Unique Value Proposition is what differentiates you from your competitors. That is, how the value your solution is going to be superior to all other value propositions in the same industry. It’s the thing that makes you stand out and catch the attention of your target audience. It’s what keeps people coming back to your particular product over your competition.
EXERCISE: Time to get working on your unique value proposition. There are many techniques that people use to identify their UVP. There is a list of techniques here. Try a couple and note down the ones you believe better communicate your UVP.
A UVP should be sufficiently specific to leave no doubt in your mind what exactly your business does. This may seem like an odd statement given you may think you know your business inside out, but having a stated UVP clarifies this and enables you to better target your end customer.
Note: A UVP can change over time, but having a documented UVP initially will go a long way to finding your initial early adopters.
WHAT IS YOUR SOLUTION?
Now that is all out of the way, it’s time to define your solution.
Return the main problem(s) that your business is looking to solve. Next to each problem (and there may only be one primary problem), outline the solution or element of overall solution which will alleviate this problem. An example may be:
Problem: Lack of access to potable water in remote village
Solution: Installation of water filtration system for local residents in central location
Make sure that the solution that you outline provides an answer to the problem that your target customers suffer from and utilizes your unfair advantage to provide a unique value proposition.
EXERCISE: OUTLINE YOUR MOST PERTINENT SOLUTIONS AND WHICH OF THE IDENTIFIED PROBLEMS THEY'RE SOLVING.
1. High-level analysis of problem and business validation: https://medium.com/swlh/the-startup-framework-to-validate-your-idea-before-you-spend-1-5c475a3bbd6f
2. Validating the problem
3. Validating the problem
4. Why customer interviews matter more than you think