Sell what your customers value

February 13, 2011 at 5:24 am Leave a comment

A quality user experience is the most talked about but under-executed functionality of a product or service. It’s also the most important.

It’s true that many users will step through broken glass to use your product if the value proposition is strong enough to them, but this isn’t sustainable and will only a create a niche market of users with no visible growth prospects (granted these users will likely be more dedicated than most). Trust me, this is where my company has sat for quite some time, and it’s a struggle that we fight every day.

I was recently helping my girlfriend think through growth options for her printing company, and it all came back to two questions:

  1. Why do new customers purchase your service?
  2. Why do existing customers come back to buy again?

Simply put, understand what value new customers seek as well as what value returning customers want again.

An example of failure here is with’s iOS app. The app’s main function is “Find Hotels Near Me.” I’ve used for years. It’s my first stop when booking a hotel for an upcoming vacation. I could be wrong, but I would guess that most of’s audience has the same use case that I do – upcoming vacations…not real-time bookings. Creating an app for the purpose that it serves makes no sense given the value that the site provides to its average user.

When thinking through the placement, price and delivery of your product or service you have to think about what value the user is buying, which may or may not be the same as what you’re trying to sell.

At Second Life we make a good chunk of our revenue by selling 3D land (kinda like 3D web pages). However, most of our users are buying 1) the ability to meet and engage with people that share common interests or mindsets and/or 2) the ability to create a world limited only by their imagination.

In many cases, buying land is the best way for our users get this value, but the land itself isn’t actually what they’re trying to buy. There is a fundamental disconnect. A tough problem to solve, but we know that this disconnect can’t persist.

In a recent TechCrunch article Alex Rampell provides a great framework for thinking through the value that your service offers. I’m going to be using it for a presentation I’m putting together this week, so thanks Alex!

Here are his 5 attributes to consider:

  1. Price (actual price to consumer + “friction” in ordering process)
  2. Geography (proximity to consumer)
  3. Selection (do they have X in my size, or sell rare item Y?)
  4. Service/Brand (do I trust/like them?)
  5. Experience (is it easy/designed to shop for X?)

Product or service value must be perceived first and foremost from the eyes of the consumer. Match what you’re selling to what your customers want to buy and other pieces of the business puzzle will come more naturally.

Entry filed under: Main Posts, User experience. Tags: , .

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About Me

I'm a San Francisco-based strategic thinker who believes that life is only as great as the people you choose to interact with. I love people, and studying business has given me greater insight into how to most effectively develop myself, and my personal relationships. I look forward to discussing people and business with those that find this area as fascinating as I do.

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