Business Model Canvas Explained with Examples

Business Model Canvas Explained with Examples

In this article, we’ll examine the nine steps needed to create your first business model using the Business Model Canvas. We’ll also look at the business models of Google, Uber, and Gillette to bring the theory to life and integrate all nine steps.

Before we jump in and look at the Business Model Canvas, let’s take a moment to define what we mean when we use the phrase “business model”.

What is a business model?

A business model is defined as:

Essentially it tells us how the key drivers of a business fit together.

Now if you think about writing all this down in a document, then it’s obviously going to require multiple pages to capture all of that information. Now think about trying to get all of this information into your brain at the same time and its easy for business models to overwhelm us.

That’s where the Business Model Canvas comes in. It gives you a way to create a pretty clear business model using just a single sheet of paper. And what is great about it is it can be used to describe any company – from the largest company in the world to a startup with just one employee.

Advantages of the Business Model Canvas

The reason why you might want to create a Business Model Canvas is that they have the following advantages:

Using the Business Model Canvas

The first thing to notice is that there are nine elements or building blocks which make up the canvas:

We’ll look at each building block of the canvas in more detail shortly, but briefly, each segment tries to answer the following questions:

1. Customer Segments

In this building block, you enter the different customer segments or that you will serve. If you can, create one or more persona for each segment you serve. A persona is simply a relatable description of each customer type you serve. They try to highlight your customers’ motivations, their problems and capture the “essence” of who they are.

One really important point to get across here is that customers don’t exist for you, but rather you exist to serve your customers.

Many businesses will serve just one customer segment, but not all. For example, Google serves two customer segments, people performing searches as well as advertisers.

If you think about breaking down the advertiser customer segment into personas, then there are many different types of advertisers you might identify. For example, Fortune 500 companies such as Nike with massive advertising budgets might be one persona, whereas small one-man businesses might form another.

2. Value Proposition

The value proposition describes the value that you deliver to each customer segment. What problems do you solve for each customer segment? What needs do you satisfy? The Value Proposition answers the question, “why will customers buy from us?”.

Some of the most common value propositions are:

3. Channels

Channels refer to how your products or services are sold to customers. To complete this section ask yourself how do your customers want to be reached? How are you reaching them now?

Broadly speaking you can either have your own channels or partner with someone else.

Your own channels might include any combination of stores you own, a sales force you employ, or your website.

Partner channels could include a multitude of options, from using a wholesaler to working with affiliates to sell your products or even using Google Adsense.

4. Customer Relationships

The Customer Relationships building block answers the question of how you get, keep, and grow customers.

The easiest way to define all of this is to walk through the entire customer journey in detail. That is how do customers find out about you, investigate whether to buy your product, purchase it and how are they managed after purchase.

5. Revenue Streams

Where does the money come from? In this building block, you state where your revenue is generated.

This might sound super simple but it isn’t. You’re actually trying to figure out what strategy you’ll use to capture the most value from your customers? Will customers simply pay a one-time fee? Will you have a monthly subscription fee? Perhaps you give away your product for free like Skype and hope that some portion of customers upgrade to the paid premium product?

Consider Google. Advertisers pay Google to place their ads in front of users with buying intent. For example, if you search for “Nike trainers” you will see ads. If you search for something without purchasing intent, such as “picture of flowers” you probably won’t see any ads.

In fact, you could say that Google operates searches without purchase intent as a loss leader to keep people using the Google system.

6. Key Resources

This building block describes your most important strategic assets that are required to make your business model work.

Broadly speaking resources can fall into one of four categories:

7. Key Activities

The Key Activities are the most important strategic things you must do to make the business model work. Key Activities should be directly relatable to your value proposition.

If your Key Activities are not relatable to your Value Proposition then something is wrong, because the activities you view as most important aren’t delivering any value to customers.

Key Activities can typically be broken down into three broad categories:

When completing this section, it is a mistake to list all the activities of your business, instead only include activities which are absolutely core to delivering your value proposition.

8. Key Partners

In this building block, you list the tasks and activities that are important but which you will not do yourself. Instead, you will use suppliers and partners to make the business model work.

Let’s look at Spotify. Spotify’s key activity is updating its platform. However, as it doesn’t produce its own music one of the key partnerships of Spotify will be the deals it strikes with record labels and publishing houses, without which it would have no music!

There are usually three reasons for creating a partnership:

9. Cost Structure

In the Cost Structure building block, we want to map key activities to costs. We also want to ensure that costs are aligned with our Value Proposition.

It should be straightforward to determine your most important costs and your most expensive after you’ve defined your Key Resources, Key Activities, and Key Partnerships.

Business Model Canvas Examples

That’s the theory out of the way. However, the Business Model Canvas comes to life when you see it in action.

So let’s look at three different examples of the Business Model Canvas so you can see just how useful it can be.

Example 1: Google

The first thing you should know about Google’s business model is that it is multi-sided. This means that it brings together two distinct but related customers.

In Google’s case, its customers are its search users and its advertisers. The platform is only of interest to advertisers because search users are also present. Conversely, search users would not be able to use the platform free of charge were it not for advertisers.

The Business Model Canvas for Google is shown below:

As you can see the diagram gives you an immediate understanding of the key parts of Google’s business model.

We can see that:

Google’s business model has a network element to it. That is, the more ads it displays to web searchers the more advertisers it attracts. And the more advertisers it attracts the more content owners it attracts.

Google’s Key Resource is its search platform including, Adsense (for content owners) and Adwords (for advertisers).

The key strategic activities that Google must perform are managing the existing platform including its infrastructure.

Google’s key partners are obviously the content owners from whom a large part of its revenues is generated. OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) also form a key partner.

OEMs are companies who produce mobile handsets to whom Google provides its Android operating system to for free. In return, when users of these handsets search the internet they use the Google search engine by default, thus bring more users into the ecosystem and generating even more revenue.

Example 2: Skype

In the diagram below you can see the Business Model Canvas for Skype.

From the Business Model Canvas we can see that Skype has two key value propositions:

Skype operates a freemium business model, meaning the majority of Skype’s users (the Free Users customer segment) use the service for free to make calls over the internet, with just 10% of users signing up to the prepaid service.

We can see from the customer relationship building block that customers typically have a help themselves relationship with Skype. Typically this will be by using their support website.

The channels Skype uses to reach its customers are its website,, and partnerships with headset brands.

Looking at key partnerships, key activities, and key resources together, the main thing to notice is that Skype is able to support its business model of offering cheap and free calls because it doesn’t have to maintain its own telecoms network like a traditional telecoms provider. Skype doesn’t need that much infrastructure at all, just backend software and the servers hosting use accounts.

Example 3: Gillette

The Business Model Canvas for Gillette is shown below:

Gillette’s business model is based on the “Bait & Hook” business model pattern. This model is characterized by an attractive, inexpensive or even free initial offer that encourages ongoing future purchases of related products or services. With this business model, the bait is often provided at a loss, subsidized by the hook.

In Gillette’s case, an inexpensive razor handle forms the bait, and continued purchases of the blades represent the hook.

The business model is very popular in SaaS (Software as a Service) businesses, where typically a free initial month leads to a monthly subscription.

In the diagram above we have used the thickness of the arrows to indicate the size of revenue generated. In Gillette’s case, all revenues are generated by just one customer segment, but the vast majority of revenues come from Frequent Blade Replacements, with just minor revenues coming from the purchase of handles.

If you look at the left-hand side of Gellettes Business Model Canvas you will notice how all major costs are aligned with delivering the value proposition. For example, marketing costs help to build Gillette’s strong brand and R&D costs help to ensure that the blade and handle technology is unique and proprietary.

Creating Your First Business Model

If you’re going to do create your first Business Model Canvas, then here are some tips to help you get started:


The Business Model Canvas provides a way to show the key elements of any business model on a single sheet of paper. The canvas is based on nine building blocks and the interrelationships between them. You can use the canvas regardless of whether you are trying to understand a startup with two employees or a Fortune 500 company with over 50,000 employees.

Original document, Business Model Canvas Explained with Examples
Source:https: Expert Program Management
Adapted for Academy.Warriorrising

The Operation Order – OPORD

The Operation Order - OPORD

Task Organization: States how the unit is organized for the operation and gives who is the main effort. The leader sufficiently weighs the main effort for each mission (for example, machine guns and antiarmor weapons) to ensure success.

I. Situation

Provides information essential to subordinate leader’s understanding of the situation.

A. Enemy Forces

Note: You must focus on the effects of weather on military operations rather than the factors that make up the analysis. That is, how does it effect you and your troops on this mission? These types of evaluations are more readily usable by your troops than statements such as “…3 inches of rain over the next 24 to 48 hours…”

B. Friendly Forces

List the fire support mean available to your unit: company or battalion mortars, artillery, CAS (Close Air Support), Naval Gunfire, etc.

C. Attachments/Detachments

Attachment: Anyone not normally a part of your unit that is attached for the mission.
Detachment: Anyone normally part of your unit that is not going on the mission for some reason.

II. Mission

This is a clear, concise statement of the unit’s task(s) to be accomplished and the purpose for doing it (who, what, when, where, why, and how). The mission is always stated twice in full. When you give WHEN it’s best to give an actual clock hard time (i.e., NLT 1030 hrs. rather than NLT 50 minutes from now)

III. Execution


A stated vision that defines the purpose of an operation and the end state with respect to the relationship among the force, the enemy, and the terrain. It affords the subordinates the ability to accomplish the mission in the absence of additional guidance, orders, or communication.

A. Concept of the Operation

This paragraph describes, in general terms, how the unit will accomplish its task(s) from start to finish. It should identify all mission essential tasks, the decisive points of action, and the main effort. This paragraph should be no longer that six sentences.

Here is where you tell a quick, general story about how you envision the mission step-by-step from the AA (assembly area), to the ORP (objective rally point), then to the OBJ (objective), and back to the ORP.

We will move out of the AA on a 190 degree azimuth for 50m in a team wedge, squad in column, in traveling formation to the line of departure. After moving 150m past the Line of Departure, we will conduct a 3 min listening halt. After which, we will move on a 190 degree azimuth for 500m where we will establish our ORP, during movement we will establish rally points every 100m. We have one linear danger area which we will cross as per our SOP. We will halt the squad at the tentative ORP location near this hill (pointing to the terrain model) then I will Look for a suitable ORP (remember: cover and concealed, defendable, off of key terrain, and off the natural line of drift–sometimes you will only be able to find one or two of these characteristics on the STX lane, but be aware). Then we will occupy the ORP by force. I will issue my 5 point contingency plan (GOTWA). Then I will go forward with the bravo team leader and two security (Jones and Smith) to pin point the OBJ to confirm the plan and establish surveillance (leaving a GOTWA). Then I will return to the ORP together the Assault and Support teams. After actions on the OBJ, we will withdraw to the ORP, gather our rucks, and I will call a SALUTE and ACE report to higher. The we will move on a 270 degree azimuth for 500 meters where we will establish a cigar shaped perimeter and disseminate information gained during the mission.

1. Maneuver:

This paragraph addresses, in detail, the mechanics of the operation. The main effort must be designated. All subordinate units (such as assault, support, R & S) with their tasks, related to the main effort, are identified also. Actions on the objective should comprise most of the paragraph. This paragraph covers, in excruciating detail, actions from leaving the ORP to the OBJ and back to the ORP.

After I return from the leader’s recon, I’ll take the squad forward to the release point. After checking in with the surveillance team to insure nothing has changed on the objective, Bravo team, who is the support element, will break off and move into position, here (point on the terrain model). I will take alpha team who the assault team and also the main effort and emplace them in their attack position, here (point on the terrain model). There we will camouflage our positions and emplace the claymore mine here (point on the terrain model). When an enemy squad moves into the kill zone, I will initiate the ambush with the claymore, and then the entire squad will fire into the kill zone for 45 seconds. After the time is up, I will give the signal for the support element to shift fire by throwing green smoke between the attack position and the objective. At this time the RTO who is the recorder and the timekeeper will start his watch. On my one long whistle blast, Alpha team will then assault, staying in their respective lanes, all the way through the objective, kicking aside weapons as they go. Alpha team will set up a limit of advance here (point on the terrain model). Once the LOA has been established, I will signal bravo team with two whistle blasts to come down and join alpha on the objective. Once bravo arrives and sets up between 9 and 12, with alpha pulling security from 12 to 3, I will call for special teams. Aid and litter teams take priority and they will drag all friendly wounded back to the casualty collection point here (point on the terrain model) on the near side of the objective. Then I will call out the EPW teams to process any enemy dead or survivors, and consolidate them at the EPW collection point here (point on the terrain model). throughout this time, the recorder will call out how long we have been on the objective every 30 seconds. Once all the equipment has been consolidated in the center of the objective here (point on the terrain model) by the EPW teams, I will call for the demo team to emplace their charges. I will give the codeword “red” whereupon aid and litter plus any casualties will withdrawal. On the next codeword “white” the assault element – alpha team – will withdraw. On the third “blue” the support element – bravo team – will withdraw and the demo team will light the fuse and withdraw as well. All elements will move back through the release point to the ORP.

2. Fires:

This paragraph describes how the leader intends for the fires to support his maneuver. It states the purpose to be achieved from the fires, priority of fires, allocation of any priority targets, and any restrictive control measures for the fires. This is also where you give the target number, the grid, the description to each target you have planned.

B. Tasks to Maneuver Units

Cover special teams in this area. Go over the names of the people on the team and task and purpose for each team: assault, support, security, R&S, EPW(Enemy Prisoner of War), Aid and Litter, Demolition, surveillance. Also detail your instructions to individuals such as primary / alternate paceman and primary / alternate compassman.

C. Tasks to Combat Support Units

This paragraph is similar to paragraph III.B except that it describes how combat support units will be employed.

D. Coordinating Instructions

This paragraph lists the details of coordination and control applicable to two or more units/sub-units. Items that might be addressed include:

IV. Service Support

This paragraph supplies the critical logistical information required to sustain the unit during the operation.

A. General

B. Material and Services

C. Medical Evacuation:

Method of evacuating dead and wounded personnel, friendly and enemy (to include priorities). Discuss enemy dead/ wounded and friendly dead/ wounded. will they be medevaced, carried, or (in the case of enemy) left where they are?

D. Personnel:

Method of handling EPWs and designation of EPW collection point.

E. Miscellaneous:

Special equipment. What does the unit have that is special equipment to accomplish the mission (i.e. claymore mine in an ambush)
Captured equipment. What to do with captured equipment (usually destroy it unless it is strange or unique, in which case you take it with you or if it can’t be moved, make a sketch of it and destroy it)

V. Command & Signal

This paragraph states where command and control elements are located during the operation.

A. Command

B. Signal

Original document, The Operation Order – OPORD
Source:https: Army Study Guide
Adapted for Academy.Warriorrising

Soldier and Ranger Creed

Soldier and Ranger Creed

Original document, Soldier and Ranger Creed
Source: US Army
Adapted for Academy.Warriorrising

Oath of Enlistment

Oath of Enlistment

I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God. (Title 10, US Code; Act of 5 May 1960 replacing the wording first adopted in 1789, with amendment effective 5 October 1962).

Original document, Oath of Enlistment
Source:https: US Army
Adapted for Academy.Warriorrising

Write your business plan

Write your business plan

Your business plan is the foundation of your business. Learn how to write a business plan quickly and efficiently with a business plan template.

Business plans help you run your business

A good business plan guides you through each stage of starting and managing your business. You’ll use your business plan as a roadmap for how to structure, run, and grow your new business. It’s a way to think through the key elements of your business.

Business plans can help you get funding or bring on new business partners. Investors want to feel confident they’ll see a return on their investment. Your business plan is the tool you’ll use to convince people that working with you — or investing in your company — is a smart choice.

Pick a business plan format that works for you

There’s no right or wrong way to write a business plan. What’s important is that your plan meets your needs.

Most business plans fall into one of two common categories: traditional or lean startup.

Traditional business plans are more common, use a standard structure, and encourage you to go into detail in each section. They tend to require more work upfront and can be dozens of pages long.

Lean startup business plans are less common but still use a standard structure. They focus on summarizing only the most important points of the key elements of your plan. They can take as little as one hour to make and are typically only one page.

Traditional business plan

This type of plan is very detailed, takes more time to write, and is comprehensive. Lenders and investors commonly request this plan.

Traditional business plan

This type of plan is very detailed, takes more time to write, and is comprehensive. Lenders and investors commonly request this plan.

Traditional business plan format

You might prefer a traditional business plan format if you’re very detail-oriented, want a comprehensive plan, or plan to request financing from traditional sources.

When you write your business plan, you don’t have to stick to the exact business plan outline. Instead, use the sections that make the most sense for your business and your needs. Traditional business plans use some combination of these nine sections.

Executive summary

Briefly tell your reader what your company is and why it will be successful. Include your mission statement, your product or service, and basic information about your company’s leadership team, employees, and location. You should also include financial information and high-level growth plans if you plan to ask for financing.

Company description

Use your company description to provide detailed information about your company. Go into detail about the problems your business solves. Be specific, and list out the consumers, organization, or businesses your company plans to serve.

Explain the competitive advantages that will make your business a success. Are there experts on your team? Have you found the perfect location for your store? Your company description is the place to boast about your strengths.

Market analysis

You’ll need a good understanding of your industry outlook and target market. Competitive research will show you what other businesses are doing and what their strengths are. In your market research, look for trends and themes. What do successful competitors do? Why does it work? Can you do it better? Now’s the time to answer these questions.

Organization and management

Tell your reader how your company will be structured and who will run it.

Describe the legal structure of your business. State whether you have or intend to incorporate your business as a C or an S corporation, form a general or limited partnership, or if you’re a sole proprietor or limited liability company (LLC).

Use an organizational chart to lay out who’s in charge of what in your company. Show how each person’s unique experience will contribute to the success of your venture. Consider including resumes and CVs of key members of your team.

Service or product line

Describe what you sell or what service you offer. Explain how it benefits your customers and what the product lifecycle looks like. Share your plans for intellectual property, like copyright or patent filings. If you’re doing research and development for your service or product, explain it in detail.

Marketing and sales

There’s no single way to approach a marketing strategy. Your strategy should evolve and change to fit your unique needs.

Your goal in this section is to describe how you’ll attract and retain customers. You’ll also describe how a sale will actually happen. You’ll refer to this section later when you make financial projections, so make sure to thoroughly describe your complete marketing and sales strategies.

Funding request

If you’re asking for funding, this is where you’ll outline your funding requirements. Your goal is to clearly explain how much funding you’ll need over the next five years and what you’ll use it for.

Specify whether you want debt or equity, the terms you’d like applied, and the length of time your request will cover. Give a detailed description of how you’ll use your funds. Specify if you need funds to buy equipment or materials, pay salaries, or cover specific bills until revenue increases. Always include a description of your future strategic financial plans, like paying off debt or selling your business.

Financial projections

Supplement your funding request with financial projections. Your goal is to convince the reader that your business is stable and will be a financial success.

If your business is already established, include income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements for the last three to five years. If you have other collateral you could put against a loan, make sure to list it now.

Provide a prospective financial outlook for the next five years. Include forecasted income statements, balance sheets, cash flow statements, and capital expenditure budgets. For the first year, be even more specific and use quarterly — or even monthly — projections. Make sure to clearly explain your projections, and match them to your funding requests.

This is a great place to use graphs and charts to tell the financial story of your business.  


Use your appendix to provide supporting documents or other materials were specially requested. Common items to include are credit histories, resumes, product pictures, letters of reference, licenses, permits, patents, legal documents, and other contracts.

Example traditional business plans

Before you write your business plan, read the following example business plans written by fictional business owners. Rebecca owns a consulting firm, and Andrew owns a toy company.

Lean startup format

You might prefer a lean startup format if you want to explain or start your business quickly, your business is relatively simple, or you plan to regularly change and refine your business plan.

Lean startup formats are charts that use only a handful of elements to describe your company’s value proposition, infrastructure, customers, and finances. They’re useful for visualizing tradeoffs and fundamental facts about your company.

There are different ways to develop a lean startup template. You can search the web to find free templates to build your business plan. We discuss nine components of a model business plan here:

Key partnerships

Note the other businesses or services you’ll work with to run your business. Think about suppliers, manufacturers, subcontractors, and similar strategic partners.

Key activities

List the ways your business will gain a competitive advantage. Highlight things like selling direct to consumers, or using technology to tap into the sharing economy.

Key resources

List any resource you’ll leverage to create value for your customer. Your most important assets could include staff, capital, or intellectual property. Don’t forget to leverage business resources that might be available to womenveteransNative Americans, and HUBZone businesses.

Value proposition

Make a clear and compelling statement about the unique value your company brings to the market.

Customer relationships

Describe how customers will interact with your business. Is it automated or personal? In person or online? Think through the customer experience from start to finish.

Customer segments

Be specific when you name your target market. Your business won’t be for everybody, so it’s important to have a clear sense of whom your business will serve.


List the most important ways you’ll talk to your customers. Most businesses use a mix of channels and optimize them over time.

Cost structure

Will your company focus on reducing cost or maximizing value? Define your strategy, then list the most significant costs you’ll face pursuing it.

Revenue streams

Explain how your company will actually make money. Some examples are direct sales, memberships fees, and selling advertising space. If your company has multiple revenue streams, list them all.

Example lean business plan

Before you write your business plan, read this example business plan written by a fictional business owner, Andrew, who owns a toy company.

Original document, Write your business plan
Source:https: SBA
Adapted for Academy.Warriorrising

Campaigning for Change

Campaigning for Change

Many executives try to change organizations. Few succeed. And as most executives who have lived through change initiatives will admit, fewer still want to try again. Who can blame them for their reluctance? The process is terribly painful, the logistics are enormously complex, the organization wants deeply not to change—and the success rate is abysmal. Yet most organizations must change, and change profoundly, if they’re to stay alive. It’s the oldest cliché in the book, and it’s also true.

The good news is that organizational change is not as hard to pull off as people think. It’s tough, but it’s not impossible, and it can be systematized. As a researcher and consultant, I’ve been involved in many change initiatives at scores of companies over the past 15 years, and I’ve come to believe that the low rate of success has more to do with execution than with fundamental conceptualization. Most of the failures I’ve witnessed occurred because the intricacies of execution overwhelmed the initiatives’ sponsors. The change programs that did work had one thing in common: They were managed as discrete projects, not as monolithic efforts.

Successful change agents I’ve observed employ three distinct but linked campaigns in their initiatives. A political campaign creates a coalition strong enough to support and guide the initiative. A marketing campaign taps into employees’ thoughts and feelings and also effectively communicates messages about the prospective program’s theme and benefits. And finally, a military campaign deploys executives’ scarce resources of attention and time as well as manages resistance.

These three interlinked campaigns are all essential to the success of a change program. Without a political campaign, an initiative risks being undermined. Without a marketing campaign, a leader will be dismissed as a social engineer out of touch with employees. Without a military campaign, a program can stall even after a successful pilot project. In the following pages, I describe the three types of campaigns and suggest key elements to turn ineffective change initiatives into winning ones.

Kick Off a Political Campaign

Corporations have become so complicated and resistant to change that no leader, however powerful, can implement a major change all alone. Successful executives forge coalitions to lead and sustain change initiatives just as winning politicians create coalitions that raise more funds, have more credibility with voters, and deliver more votes. Indeed, wealthy politicians who fund their own campaigns sometimes lose elections because they short-circuit the all-important process of building coalitions.

Forging Alliances.

In politics, the makeup of a coalition’s membership—who’s leading, who’s playing a supporting role, who’s an active participant, and who’s in the friendly audience—differs at various stages of the campaign. Indeed, it’s common for politicians to build one coalition to win a party’s nomination and another to win the election. The same holds true in business. A zealot, for example, provides better leadership when a campaign’s theme has yet to take root, but a consensus builder is better suited to lead when corporate policies are being changed to accommodate new work practices.

Consider Hewlett-Packard’s successful campaign between 1994 and 1998 to improve service and customize products.1 Early on, a small group of senior HP executives realized that in the IT hardware business, quality no longer differentiated HP from its competitors. They decided that the company needed to focus more on the individual needs of customers and less on internal processes. They developed the tag line “quality one on one” to express the idea that HP needed to apply the competencies associated with quality to relationships with customers. However, the executives knew that in a decentralized company like HP, such an initiative would not succeed unless a powerful political coalition backed it. They also knew that the coalition could not be built overnight. Over the course of the campaign, each of three shifts in leadership—each of three baton passes—broadened the coalition that backed new quality practices.

First, the company’s standing Planning and Quality Committee convened a task force to examine how HP’s philosophy about quality could be refreshed. Realizing that there might be a conflict between old-line quality professionals and managers interested in extending quality to relationships with customers, the executives behind the change initiative created a Quality Role Task Force that brought together both camps. This was the first baton pass. The two task forces formed a coalition and asked the corporate quality office, a central department that charged divisions for its services, to commit resources and people to develop new quality tools. This was the second baton pass. From 1994 to 1996, the CQO collaborated with more than 50 HP divisions to develop methods and tools for increasing customer satisfaction. Individual divisions evinced differing levels of interest in the process, but eventually HP’s influential Inkjet Printer Group stepped forward to play a lead role in developing new practices—the third baton pass.

Could these twists and turns have been avoided? Probably not. Twists and turns seem to be part of the process of building a winning coalition for change. Had the traditionalists not been swept into the coalition, the operating divisions might not have volunteered to be sites where new tools could be developed. And had the hybrid task force not allowed the CQO to be its leader, the initiative might never have reached the experimentation and implementation phases at HP.

Shifting Structures.

The political campaign also requires changes to the organizational structure. Sometimes, new political coalitions are established through changes to the manifest, formal structure of the corporation. In other cases, the informal networks are the best ways in. And in still other cases, executives use temporary counterstructures to support their change initiatives.

The experience of global hotel chain Novotel illustrates a successful change in formal organizational structure.2 The chain, owned by the Accor Group, successfully launched a major change initiative when occupancy rates fell steeply after the Gulf War ended in 1991. Novotel’s newly appointed copresidents, Philippe Brizon and Gilles Pélisson, decided that forging alliances with the general managers of the chain’s 200 hotels would best serve their initiative. The hotel managers were the copresidents’ natural allies because they had been the first to point out to top management that Novotel’s business model—four-star facilities at three-star prices—was no longer bringing in customers.

First, Brizon and Pélisson eliminated two of the five tiers in Novotel’s organizational hierarchy in order to form a close coalition with the hotel managers. Then they gave the managers more control over room pricing, work practices, and the layout of public areas. Finally, Brizon and Pélisson abolished the central quality-control department so that it could not inhibit the efforts of the general managers. Coalitions of this kind are often formed when executives work to eliminate bureaucracy.

However, changing the formal structure of an organization first is not always possible. Often it is necessary to work through the informal networks by discovering how people actually work together. That was the case at Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) in 1997. At the time, one of the company’s top priorities was to speed the development of blockbuster drugs. Peter Ringrose, the president of the company’s Pharmaceutical Research Institute, felt that researchers needed to reduce their focuses on particular sciences and therapeutic areas (like analytic chemistry or heart disease) and adopt more multidisciplinary approaches to research. Ringrose asked HR director Elizabeth Bolgiano to help the institute’s top team redesign the structure of the research institute with that end in mind. The team created three multidisciplinary committees to oversee the company’s research efforts. A year later, nothing much had changed. When team members looked for explanations, they discovered that the new committees had not touched the way people really worked with one another. The changes in the structure had, in a sense, been undermined by the lack of change in the informal organization.

The research group’s work flows were then mapped to uncover the drug development process as it actually occurred. Armed with the mappings, senior executives and scientists together identified milestones for each segment of the change process. Several multidisciplinary subcommittees and teams were created to own these smaller parts of the process as delineated by the scientists. By acknowledging how research was actually conducted, senior executives co-opted people into the political coalition. As BMS’s executives discovered, changes in the formal structure sometimes follow, rather than precede, changes in the informal organization.

The lesson from that example is that senior executives may be too quick to change structure when what is necessary is to change practice. Changing how people actually do their work can also be accomplished by creating temporary coalitions, sometimes through counterstructures. A counterstructure will initially undermine the chain of command but eventually revitalizes the organization. (This is the strategy CEOs use when, for instance, they house particular functions in the office of the president so that the functional heads temporarily report directly to them.)

Consider the case of ASDA,3 the large British grocery chain now owned by Wal-Mart. In 1991, when ASDA was in financial trouble, the board of directors brought in Archie Norman and Allan Leighton to turn around the company. The two men soon realized that few, if any, of the managers in the organization were willing to back their ideas. Instead of working through those managers, they struck a working alliance with store-level employees and, in so doing, deliberately undermined ASDA’s existing chain of command.

Norman and Leighton launched a store renewal program that allowed the two of them to take personal charge of particular stores. They redesigned their store formats, pricing patterns, and management processes. Norman also began showing up unannounced in stores, notebook in hand, to talk to employees on the floor. By not honoring the store managers’ traditional right to receive advance notice, he increased the power of their subordinates. Norman also introduced a program called “Tell Archie,” whereby employees wrote in suggestions and ideas, which were forwarded to the relevant store managers for response. Norman personally reviewed each answer, dismissing those he felt were inadequate. Thus, Norman and Leighton reduced the authority of ASDA’s influential hierarchy by temporarily cutting it out of the loop.

Launch a Marketing Campaign

Most chief executive officers know firsthand the importance of marketing campaigns to communicate the benefits of their change initiatives. They are as adept in using the myriad elements of marketing—banners, events, contests, and so forth—to sell their initiatives to employees as they are in deploying those elements to promote products to customers. Unfortunately, such techniques don’t always deliver results. In my experience, there are three other, more important, elements that many executives ignore.

Listening In.

Some ideas for change efforts are stimulated by thoughts that bubble up from the field rather than from the corporate center. For instance, Novotel, the European hotel chain mentioned earlier, was still enjoying high profits when its occupancy rates started to drop. Its headquarters probably would not have woken up to the underlying problem if individual hotel managers hadn’t pointed it out.

Listening to voices from the field is an important part of any internal marketing campaign, but that’s easier said than done. Many employees don’t insist on being heard in the assertive way that Novotel’s managers did. Increasingly, therefore, executives are borrowing ethnographic methods from anthropologists to learn what people do and think. Rather than interviewing people, anthropologists go into the field and observe them. They record conversations and take note of the tacit elements of settings: how people dress, the care they show to their surroundings, what rituals they use to greet one another.

Executives use techniques like these to observe how people go about their everyday work and to uncover latent strengths and weaknesses. Researchers at my organization, the Center for Applied Research (CFAR), worked with a large U.S. insurance company that planned to launch a program to help its field-support officers and the insurance agents working for them become more effective. The aim was to identify the best work practices within individual offices and then employ them throughout the company. Using ethnographic methods, the research team listened in on both sides of the relationship, first shadowing the insurance agents for a week, then the field-support officers.

We discovered a lot of things that we wouldn’t necessarily have found out if we’d simply interviewed employees. For example, in the most effective offices, we saw managers holding informal football-like huddles, rather than formal meetings, at the beginning and end of each day. The huddles brought everybody together, alerted everyone to urgent issues, and allowed people to anticipate concerns that would likely emerge over the next week. These gatherings were practical ways for everyone to get together and share intelligence within the office. Had we merely interviewed the staff, we might never have learned about the huddles because they were informal. Indeed, the best work practices do not announce themselves because they are so seamlessly integrated into everyone’s work habits.

Working with Lead Customers.

Executives who have successfully conducted change initiatives work with lead customers—employees who step forward to try out a new practice or, as often happens, have invented one themselves. Such people often help design or modify a program, subsequently leading to a more rapid spread of a new practice. And since lead customers raise problems that other users have not yet confronted, they help pace the implementation of the initiative.

Take the case of a global consultancy company that CFAR worked with whose president believed that a formal mentoring program would help the firm retain MBA recruits. When the HR-sponsored mentoring program was presented to the heads of the local offices, it was roundly rejected: “Don’t really need it.” “Won’t work here.” “Too formal for us.” CFAR then worked with the HR team to conduct a series of pilot mentoring workshops, but only in the few offices that wanted to participate.

At the end of each session, we asked participants to write down the most useful thing they had learned. The quotes were organized by theme and sent to the next office that had shown interest in the program. Over time, comments from participants gave the program a voice, as if the mentoring workshop was a natural outgrowth of the firm’s culture. Eventually, all the feedback from these lead customers was used to modify the program. Two years and many pilots later, the mentoring program had been adopted by every office, some of which were also asking about its next phase. As the company’s senior executives discovered, change based on vague promises of future benefits is difficult to communicate. Effective leaders find users who already believe in the need for a change initiative, develop it with their help, and learn from their comments and insights.

Developing a Theme.

I’m not convinced that change initiatives need a lot of marketing-style bells and whistles, but they do need a clearly articulated, high-level theme that employees at all organizational levels can respond to. Jack Welch’s “Work-Out” theme—which conveyed the need to eliminate work and to build organizational muscle—is a classic example.

Effective themes are accessible but also contain a good deal of complexity. Some of the best—like GE’s Work-Out—possess double meanings; indeed, they often contain or suggest a paradox. At BMS, for instance, when Peter Ringrose started the program to accelerate drug development, the top management team decided on the theme “opportunity-seeking blockbuster.” According to Ringrose, the term “opportunity-seeking” would convey to scientists that new chemical entities often emerge serendipitously. Researchers ought to be opportunistic, the tag line implied, and they should be quick to follow up ideas, hunches, and early research results from any corner of the company. “Blockbuster,” on the other hand, suggested that such opportunism should seek results, or strive to achieve the company’s financial targets. Thus the tag line acknowledged respect for the white spaces where discovery often takes place and simultaneously implied that the work could be done while being mindful of the company’s financial goals.

The paradox embodied in a campaign’s theme often alludes to a tension that the change initiative promises to resolve, as was the case at BMS. It was also true at Microsoft in 1999, when the company was torn between focusing on the Windows operating system as its anchor and the Internet as its future.4 Microsoft’s leaders hit upon the suffix. Net, which could be applied to all its products—as in Office.Net and MSN.Net. The prefix, naming Microsoft’s proprietary products, alluded to the company’s exclusiveness while the suffix, citing the Web’s open-source framework, gave a nod to the larger world of the Internet. The combination of prefix and suffix symbolized Microsoft’s hope that the company would change by bridging the gulf between the two.

Mount a Military Campaign

Executives instinctively draw on the metaphor of the military campaign to describe not only their business strategy but also their approach for changing an organization. The link between the military and a change initiative is an uneasy one, but the central task in both is the management of resistance.

Executives believe, quite sensibly, that they will never introduce lasting changes unless they deliberately engage with and overcome resistance. Resistance, like a good enemy, can be perfectly rational; it has many sources, including people’s habits, personal relationships, political alliances, and the skepticism with which change initiatives are viewed. My experience suggests that three military tactics can help executives overcome organizational resistance to change.

Securing Supply Lines.

Just as logistics are critical to any military campaign, supply lines are crucial to every change initiative. But while an army marches on its belly, a change initiative feeds on attention. In fact, change initiatives usually fail not because of active resistance or insufficient funds but because of a lack of attention. A study by John Darragh and Andrew Campbell found that close to 50%all corporate initiatives bog down simply because people stop paying attention to them.

Successful executives know that everyone’s time and energy for transformation efforts are scarce, and thus they secure their supply lines before kicking off their campaigns. Piggybacking onto issues that have already captured people’s interests often produces good results. Consider the CEO of a gas-and-light holding company that one of CFAR’s teams worked with. The CEO needed to drastically restructure the company’s costs, but the management team was preoccupied with other projects. “Just make it go away,” they told him. “We’ve got no cycles left for this.” The CEO decided, instead, to work with some of the initiatives he had already started. He persuaded a dormant strategic-planning group to come up with a rough framework for cost restructuring. Then he looked for other efforts already under way to flesh out the framework and test parts of the new model. He used five existing pilot projects to roll out his ideas and didn’t have to create a single new one. For example, he roped in an HR software-implementation team and a team working on resource allocation and scheduling for the company’s delivery trucks. Ultimately, the only dedicated resource the CEO needed to assign to the program was a campaign manager to keep information flowing across the projects and to the rest of the company.

Indeed, it’s not uncommon for a change initiative being planned to exist already as a bootleg project led by passionately committed people. Executives who build on such insurgent initiatives and the passions that feed them are able to rapidly turn resistance into cooperation, and the chances of success are far higher than if they started from scratch. For example, a 3M project to develop Thinsulate, the best-selling insulation material, was killed by Livio DeSimone, then a general manager at 3M and the recently retired CEO. Yet several scientists continued to work on it in another lab as a skunk works project. That story had a happy ending, but insurgencies of this kind are defeated in most organizations.

Another way to gain attention and overcome resistance is through the careful use of meetings. In 1997, KPMG International, under the direction of Colin Sharman, launched a firmwide campaign to develop a set of corporate values.5 Senior executives needed to meet with managers at all levels to craft and clarify the proposed value statements. However, rather than scheduling special values-clarification meetings, the executives piggybacked onto already scheduled KPMG events and bid for time on their agendas. That way, they avoided the meeting overload that can strangle initiatives. Just as trucks and jeeps ferrying supplies to a war front can create paralyzing traffic jams, new meetings penciled into overloaded calendars can block the flow of attention a fresh initiative needs. Moreover, linking the values work to other work minimized the chances that the initiative would be seen as unrelated to “real” business issues.

Choosing Beachheads.

As one of the first steps in change initiatives, executives often set up pilot projects to test new ideas or practices. These projects tend to go after easy successes in order to minimize challenges in implementation. But such pilot projects rarely, if ever, turn into beachheads because they do not expose managers to the difficult dynamics they will ultimately face. A beachhead is never easy to secure; that’s what makes it strategic.

The limitations of pilot projects that were focused on easy wins were evident in the 1980s, when many manufacturing companies tried to change job designs. They created greenfield sites with vastly improved labor-management relations or with much more participative frontline supervision. But people in other plants discounted those successes, saying, “The exception proves the rule.” Similarly, when managers introduced quality of work-life programs by involving frontline workers in decisions about lunchroom layouts and other fairly small concerns, early victories rarely led to increases in employee participation. That’s because employees became cynical when managers, confronting more serious issues at subsequent stages, pulled back.

Perhaps the most spectacular failed beachhead is the Saturn division of General Motors. Saturn succeeded in producing small cars at competitive costs, but it failed as a beachhead for transforming the way GM related to its broad base of customers. Saturn’s unique brand of union-management collaboration did not spread across GE; other divisions did not take up its one-price, no-haggling selling policy; and, most important, the purchase of a Saturn did not lead customers to later buy up to a larger GM car. All the work that went into creating the distinctive Saturn brand interfered with GM’s ability to leverage the brand for the corporation’s wider benefit.

Why did the pilot fail to turn into a true beachhead? Two key criteria were missing: A beachhead needs to be a free space for innovation, and it needs to be able to loop learning back into the rest of the organization. For example, when ASDA’s Archie Norman and Allan Leighton started their store renewal program, they carefully selected the initial beachheads they wanted to establish. The first store they chose to work with was a low-performing outlet—headed by a manager of average competence—that faced stiff competition from three other grocery stores. Norman and Leighton took the store manager out of the chain of command and worked closely with him to create fresh strategies. They encouraged the manager to turn around the store by breaking some of the chain’s taboos, such as by managing sales rather than the usual practice of managing expenses. Norman and Leighton eventually used everything they learned in the process to formalize a set of principles called the ASDA Way of Working, and those rules guided the successful renewal of all stores in the chain.

Creating a War Room.

A war room should be more than just a metaphor in a change initiative. A dedicated space cues people to focus on a single issue and can help screen out many day-to-day organizational distractions. Such a setting can house shared materials, documents, charts, and maps for everyone’s use. When located near a CEO’s corner office, the war room also signifies the importance of the issue under attack.

When he was CEO of Daimler-Benz, Jürgen Schrempp worked from a war room to facilitate the company’s most important strategic initiatives. In Taken for a Ride: How Daimler-Benz Drove Off with Chrysler, Bill Vlasic and Bradley Stertz relate that “the room was wall-to-wall high technology: banks of computer screens, video-conferencing equipment, a big-screen television, monitors that flashed the latest news and stock quotes from wire services around the world. Clocks on the wall showed the time in Detroit, New York, Stuttgart, Tokyo, Bangkok, Sydney, and Johannesburg.” The war room provided executives with “access to 2,000 commercial databases and every budget item and sales report in Daimler’s far-flung operations.” In fact, Daimler-Benz’s war room played a key role in helping Schrempp identify Chrysler as a potential merger target.

A war room also has a symbolic purpose. For instance, GM used its environmental-strategy war room, set up in 2001 to organize its efforts for tracking fuel efficiency, for public relations. News reporters were often invited to see the war room so they would tell the world that GM was seriously tackling the issue. Any organization determined to implement a change initiative should, I believe, create a war room.• • •

In my experience, the most successful executives launch these three campaigns—political, marketing, and military—simultaneously rather than sequentially. Inevitably, though, the imperatives of one campaign over the others will stand out at some point during the life of the change initiative. When that happens, attending to that campaign becomes a priority. For instance, if you have support from top management plus the resources to advance a practice but haven’t yet engendered excitement or commitment from employees, you’ll focus on the marketing campaign—listening in to understand what your constituents are thinking and feeling and then refashioning your initiative so that it draws on their passions. Indeed, one way to manage the three campaigns simultaneously is to ask in which campaign the current bottleneck lies. Nevertheless, the three campaigns feed on one another, and it’s simplistic to think of them in isolation. Successful campaigns build winning coalitions, tap into people’s thoughts and feelings, and deploy scarce resources at the right beachheads and at the right time. If any one of these campaigns is lacking, the change initiative is bound to fail.

Original document, Campaigning for Change
Source:https: Harvard Business Review
Adapted for Academy.Warriorrising

Pain Points: A Guide to Finding & Solving Your Customers’ Problems

Pain Points: A Guide to Finding & Solving Your Customers’ Problems

Marketers always seem to be talking about pain points.

Unlike a bum hip aggravated by the weather, however, the kind of pain points marketers typically encounter can be a little more complicated.

Today we’ll be diving into the world of customer pain points – specifically, what pain points are and how you can position your company as a potential solution. We’ll be taking a look at several real-world examples to see how marketers overcome some of the most common customer pain points, as well as general tips on how to make yourself indispensable to your prospects at the right time, in the right place.

Before we get to the examples, though, let’s start with the basics.

What Are Customer Pain Points?

A pain point is a specific problem that prospective customers of your business are experiencing. In other words, you can think of pain points as problems, plain and simple.

Like any problem, customer pain points are as diverse and varied as your prospective customers themselves. However, not all prospects will be aware of the pain point they’re experiencing, which can make marketing to these individuals difficult as you effectively have to help your prospects realize they have a problem and convince them that your product or service will help solve it.

Although you can think of pain points as simple problems, they’re often grouped into several broader categories. Here are the four main types of pain points:

Viewing customer pain points in these categories allows you to start thinking about how to position your company or product as a solution to your prospects’ problems, and what is needed to keep them happy. For example, if your prospects’ pain points are primarily financial, you could highlight the features of your product within the context of a lower monthly subscription plan, or emphasize the increased ROI your satisfied customers experience after becoming a client.

However, while this method of categorization is a good start, it’s not as simple as identifying price as a pain point before pointing out that your product or service is cheaper than the competition. Many prospective customers’ problems are layered and complex, and may combine issues from several of our categories above. That’s why you need to view your customers’ pain points holistically, and present your company as a solution to not just one particularly problematic pain point, but as a trusted partner that can help solve a variety of problems.

How Do I Identify My Customers’ Pain Points?

Now that we know what pain points are, we need to figure out how to actually identify them.

Although many of your prospects are likely experiencing the same or similar pain points, the root cause of these pain points can be as diverse as your clientele. That’s why qualitative research is a fundamental part of identifying customer pain points.

The reason you need to conduct qualitative research (which focuses on detailed, individualized responses to open-ended questions) as opposed to quantitative research (which favors standardized questions and representative, statistically significant sample sizes) is because your customers’ pain points are highly subjective. Even if two customers have exactly the same problem, the underlying causes of that problem could differ greatly from one customer to another.

There are two primary sources of the information you need to identify your customers’ pain points – your customers themselves, and your sales and support teams. Let’s take a look at how to get the information you need from your customers first.

Conducting Qualitative Customer Research

One of the best ways to learn your customers’ biggest problems is by really listening to them.

Recently, we held our first Customer Insight Round Table event, in which we invited 11 WordStream customers to spend some time at our offices in Boston to share their experiences – good and bad – with us openly and honestly.

A WordStream client evaluates a series of problems and proposed solutions during our first Customer Insight Round Table event

As part of this process, we asked attendees to participate in an Ideation & Design workshop, a collaborative, hands-on session in which our customers identified some of their biggest challenges as online advertisers. This helped attendees remain focused on the problems they shared as advertisers, rather than as individual entrepreneurs and business owners, and also allowed us to focus on solving problems that were within our control.

We learned things about our customers’ problems that even the most detailed questionnaire could never unearth, and it gave us the opportunity to discuss those issues within the context of wider problems that our customers are experiencing. This gave us a remarkably detailed view of our customers’ pain points as well as a broader view of how the current economic climate and other factors are affecting real businesses.

This kind of event is invaluable to you as a business. Not only does it allow you to converse at length with the people who are actually using your products, but it also creates an environment in which problem-solving is a collaborative process.

Conducting Qualitative Sales Research

The other research resource at your disposal is your sales team. Your sales reps work on the frontlines of the battle for the hearts and minds of your prospective customers every single day, which makes them an invaluable source of feedback on your prospects’ pain points.

However, as valuable as your sales team’s feedback can be, it’s important to distinguish your sales reps’ pain points from your prospects’ pain points; your sales reps’ problems may be very real, but you’re not building a product or providing a service to make your sales reps’ lives easier (at least, not in the context of this article).

It’s crucial to separate operational challenges from genuine customer pain points. For example, let’s say your reps are experiencing a slow quarter, and sales goals have been missed for two consecutive months. Here’s where things can get complicated. Facing the prospect of missing another sales target, your reps might be tempted to bemoan a lack of qualified leads or the quality of the leads assigned to them. While this may be a legitimate complaint, it’s got nothing at all to do with your customers’ pain, so you have to filter out the noise to get to the actual problem.

Conducting Qualitative Customer Research

The other research resource at your disposal is your sales team. Your sales reps work on the frontlines of the battle for the hearts and minds of your prospective customers every single day, which makes them an invaluable source of feedback on your prospects’ pain points.

However, as valuable as your sales team’s feedback can be, it’s important to distinguish your sales reps’ pain points from your prospects’ pain points; your sales reps’ problems may be very real, but you’re not building a product or providing a service to make your sales reps’ lives easier (at least, not in the context of this article).

It’s crucial to separate operational challenges from genuine customer pain points. For example, let’s say your reps are experiencing a slow quarter, and sales goals have been missed for two consecutive months. Here’s where things can get complicated. Facing the prospect of missing another sales target, your reps might be tempted to bemoan a lack of qualified leads or the quality of the leads assigned to them. While this may be a legitimate complaint, it’s got nothing at all to do with your customers’ pain, so you have to filter out the noise to get to the actual problem.

This word cloud of things advertisers would change about their campaigns offers us a lot of insight into our customers’ pain points

Now let’s say that your reps tell you that they’ve had several potential deals fall through because the prospect told them that PPC is “too complicated.” This is a genuine customer pain point. This speaks to several potential pain points, including a lack of experience or training, a poor understanding of PPC best practices, badly allocated ad budget, a fundamental misunderstanding about your product and what it does, and dozens of other potential problems.

Regardless of what’s causing the pain, you now have a pain point you can counter in your marketing. Remember our list of pain points from earlier in this post? Let’s take a look at the pain points we identified, and see how we could address them in our marketing:

It’s important to remember that you can’t “prove” you can ease your prospects’ pain, and what works for one customer may not work for another. That’s what makes social validation so crucial when using customer pain points in your marketing; word-of-mouth recommendations and user reviews become much more persuasive when a prospect already believes your product or service could make their life better.

That’s why you should be using customer testimonials and other social validation tools in your marketing – a great review or glowing testimonial can sell your product far more effectively than even the most silver-tongued salesperson.

Mini Case Study: WordStream for Agencies

When it comes to PPC, agencies face many unique challenges. From balancing account management with sourcing new clients to improving performance and demonstrating ROI, life is far from easy for agency PPC professionals.

In May last year, we set out to learn what makes the average internet marketing agency tick – with particular emphasis on the challenges agencies face – by conducting a survey of more than 200 internet marketing agencies specializing in paid search from all over the world.

The results were fascinating, if a little predictable in some cases.

During our analysis of the survey data, we found that time management was the single greatest challenge facing agencies today. This was perhaps the least surprising of the survey’s results – it’s no secret that agencies are under tremendous pressure if they want to compete in today’s online advertising ecosystem. Even the most skilled PPC professional still has to spend time actually working in their clients’ accounts, making time management even more crucial for agency PPC managers.

We already knew that time management was a major pain point for agencies before we built WordStream Advisor for Agencies, but when we launched the tool, we wanted to really speak to our agency clients’ pain points. Take a look at this page intended specifically for prospective agency clients:

Although we also highlight WordStream Advisor for Agencies’ range of tools and the ease of use offered by the platform, time savings take center-stage throughout this page precisely because time management is agencies’ top priority.

Almost all of the copy on this page reiterates how much time agency PPC professionals can save by using our software, and this benefit-driven approach shapes the style, tone, and language of the entire page. In fact, we take our agency prospects’ pain points even further as we progress down the page:

We know that time management is our agency prospects’ biggest pain point, but this alone isn’t all our agency prospects are worried about. Remember how we said that balancing time between account management and finding new clients was another pain point experienced by many agencies? The screenshot above shows how we’ve directly addressed this particular pain point within the context of time management and efficiency – both Productivity and Process pain points that follow logically from the initial identification of time management as agencies’ major pain point.

Remember – it’s not just about identifying your prospects’ pain points, it’s also about emphasizing what solving this pain will help your prospects do. The clearer you can make this in your copy and campaigns, the more likely your prospects are to respond positively.

Leveraging Customer Pain Points in Online Ads

Now that we’ve explored the concept of pain points in a little more detail, let’s keep going with our examples of how to leverage this pain in your online ad campaigns.

Addressing Customer Pain Points in Paid Search Ads

You’ve conducted qualitative research into what pain points your prospects are experiencing, and now you’re ready to use this knowledge in your search campaigns. What does this look like?

The image above is an ad that was served to me for the search query “payroll services” on Google. Unsurprisingly, the top ad was for ADP, one of the largest payroll providers in North America. If you’re not familiar with the fascinating world of payroll services, this ad might not look all that tantalizing, but to anyone who actually works with payroll on a regular basis, this ad could be very tempting.

One of the biggest financial challenges growing companies face is payroll. According to Paychex, payroll can cost anywhere between $20 and $100 per month in addition to a fee of up to $5 per employee per payroll run. This can make hiring new people a significant expense for some companies (especially when you factor in benefits and other costs), particularly newer, smaller businesses. From the get-go, this ad promises us two months of free payroll services, but that’s not what we’re interested in – we want to take a closer look at the ad copy.

The first line of copy – “Let ADP Take The Weight Off Your Business With Fast, Easy & Reliable Payroll” – hits all the right notes. For one, the use of the phrase “Let ADP Take The Weight Off Your Business” addresses the burden of payroll subtly and uses language that evokes relief, implying the relief prospects will feel when they let ADP handle their payroll.

The inclusion of “Fast, Easy, & Reliable” is also very clever, as these common adjectives all address pain points themselves, namely that payroll is a difficult, time-consuming pain in the ass that other companies can’t be entrusted with – not bad for three words of copy. Finally, you’ll notice the inclusion of several extensions offering that crucial social validation we mentioned earlier, as well as offers for a free quote, a demo of ADP’s payroll software, and the two-months-free offer highlighted in the headline.

Addressing Customer Pain Points in Social Ads

Social ads may be even more effective at addressing customer pain points than search ads. Why? Because many people browse social media sites like Twitter and Facebook in an aspirational way; we post updates that reflect the people we want to be, not necessarily the people we are right now.

As such, a well-designed social ad that directly addresses a prospect’s pain points could be powerfully persuasive.

We can see this principle in action in this Facebook ad for technical employment screening service Triplebyte:

This ad is particularly clever and an unusual combination of emotional triggers that addresses a very specific pain point – landing a new technical job.

If you know much about software development or are friends with any of the engineers in your office, you may already know that a developer’s choice of text editor – the software programs in which developers actually write their code – is a Very Big Deal, and this ad leverages this to great effect.

Firstly, the ad makes a bold, potentially controversial claim that developers who use Vim and Emacs, two of the oldest and most popular text editors out there, are twice as likely to pass a technical interview with Triplebyte than users of Eclipse, another text editor. Although this claim is based on real data, it’s also a clever emotional trigger. Developers who use Vim or Emacs might feel a smug sense of self-satisfaction when reading this ad, but it could also raise the hackles of developers who favor other text editors. This makes the ad very tempting to would-be Triplebyte clients, regardless of their text editor of choice.

Secondly, the ad addresses a very specific pain point among techies looking for a new gig – the fear of successfully passing a technical interview. Companies like Google are famous (or infamous, depending on your perspective) for the deviousness of their technical interviews, and Triplebyte’s ad infers that by using Vim or Emacs, prospective candidates can put themselves ahead of the (ferocious) competition for top technical roles.

This might not be the most conventional use of leveraging pain points in a social ad, but it’s an excellent example of how well-crafted social ads can combine emotional triggers and address very specific pain points.

Addressing Customer Pain Points in Landing Pages

As our final example of how to leverage customer pain points in your marketing, we come to one of the most effective – and leakiest – parts of the conversion funnel, the humble landing page.

Landing pages are crucial to the success of many marketing campaigns, particularly PPC campaigns. Aligning your landing pages with the copy of your ads is a well-established PPC best practice, but your landing pages can also serve as another opportunity to reinforce why your product or service can ease your prospects’ pain.

Let’s take a look at how this works.

Below is a landing page for social analytics platform SimplyMeasured:

This landing page is one of the best examples of addressing customer pain points I’ve come across. The headline is very effective (“How to Make Social Marketing Decisions Faster”) but the strapline below it is even better. Not only is it benefit-driven, it also addresses two specific pain points in a single line of copy: using time more effectively – which could be either a Productivity or Processes pain point – and establishing ones’ self as the go-to social analytics person in your office.

These benefits are further emphasized further down the landing page in the copy. In the bulleted list of what readers will learn from the download, one of the benefits listed is “Make quick stunning presentations for your stakeholders.” This reiterates the promise of the strapline, which is as much about perception as it is about productivity.

This landing page definitely isn’t perfect (there are many more web form fields included on this landing page than those shown above), but generally speaking, it’s a great example of how to leverage customer pain points in your copy and use emotional triggers to make your landing pages much more appealing.

No Pain, No Gain

By now, hopefully you have a better idea of what your customers are really trying to do when they’re looking for companies or products like yours. Although many customer pain points are similar, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to solving your customers’ pain. Fortunately, nobody knows your customers like you do, so dive into your research and start helping your customers accomplish what they really want to do.

What other tips do you have for helping customers overcome pain points?


Original document, Pain Points: A Guide to Finding & Solving Your Customers’ Problems
Source:https: WordStream
Adapted for Academy.Warriorrising

Why Customer Pain Is Your Most Important Resource

Why Customer Pain Is Your Most Important Resource

If your product is gonna stick, it needs to address your customers’ pain points–whether they can articulate them or not. Thankfully, some very smart people have thought about this.

How does an entrepreneur identify what customers will buy before the products or services exist? To answer that question, it helps to address another question first: Why does anybody buy anything?

At the most basic level, people typically spend money on two things:

First, they readily spend money to combat pain. Second, they spend money to pursue pleasure.

We list pain and pleasure in that order for a reason. All things being equal, the more acute the pain or problem, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to offer a compelling solution. The more compelling the solution, the more quickly the customer will pay. From an entrepreneur’s perspective this means that it’s often better to be in a “pain business” than a “pleasure business.” There is simply more staying power in pain-solving businesses.

In fact, entrepreneurs often wind up using “customer pain” as a synonym for “customer needs” or “customer problems.” At times this can seem a bit over the top, even cynical, as we talk about soothing the customer’s pain by selling him an electric gadget or a new style of clothing. But referring to pain rather than needs or preferences reinforces the point: Customers are people. They appreciate the world through the prism of their experiences. They sense what challenges or bothers them–their pain–but they often can’t even conceive of the solutions–their needs.

So, look for the pain. Think of things that people find disturbing, frustrating, urgent or uncomfortable. Then, with the pain clearly recognized and in mind, switch gears and develop cures. Focus on healing. Let that be your guide as you try to invent a venture that will make the pain go away.

There is one more component here. You want to focus not just on identifying what the pain is, but also figuring out when people feel it most pressingly. It’s almost always easier to sell a solution to a current, intense pain than to solve something less acute. If you’ve ever had to call a locksmith or a plumber in an emergency, you’ll understand this point almost intuitively. It’s easier to sell somebody a new car when he or she has just learned that the faithful old clunker will need a $1,500 repair job. It’s easier to sell aspirin than vitamins.

Human as this desire to end pain is, the quest applies to business customers, too. Businesses generally strive to do two things: increase sales and cut costs. So, if you can demonstrate new ways that business customers can find new markets, create new products, or even raise prices on existing products, you can solve their pain by helping to increase revenue. If you can offer business customers innovative new ways to manage their workforces, comply with government regulations or build infrastructure, you can solve their pain by helping to cut costs.

One final thing to consider: the customer and the end user are not necessarily the same person. If you sell games and toys for example, often your users might be children, but the customers who actually buy your products are probably their parents. Likewise, if you run an Internet search on Google, you’re Google’s user, but it’s only when you purchase Google AdWords that you become Google’s customer.

Testing for Customer Pain

There’s a simple method for figuring out whether your new venture idea will address a real customer pain. It comes down to this: Can you describe the pain your company solves–and why anyone should care–in just a few words? Can you then persuade a prospective customer to purchase your product using your simple explanation?

If so, congratulations. You’re miles ahead of most entrepreneurs. Innovators and founders who need paragraphs to describe their market or persuade potential customers demonstrate that they haven’t refined their businesses sufficiently.

This works in reverse as well. Think of the some of the most successful companies in the world and also of some of the companies we’ve used as examples already. For the truly great ones, you can probably describe very quickly what they do and thus what customer pain they exist to solve. Apple exists because people want elegant technology. Google exists because advertisers want to reach customers effectively. Starbucks exists because people are addicted to caffeine.

Is it fatal if you can’t articulate a compelling customer pain? It can be eventually, but it also means simply that you haven’t fully formed your new venture idea yet. Many great entrepreneurs go through numerous iterations before they figure out the best uses for their innovations. It can take time to find the pain.

Identify Intangible Needs

Many customer needs are for things the customers themselves don’t fully understand or articulate. Why buy an iPod instead of a less expensive MP3 player? Why drive a Lexus instead of a Toyota? Why pick one brand of artificially sweetened carbonated beverage over another one? Usually the answers to these questions have less to do with features than with image, feelings and intangibles.

Clothing retailer Abercrombie and Fitch generated revenue of about $3.5 billion in 2010. The company has its roots in a 100-year-old sporting goods store. What sets it apart from its competitors so that they can charge a huge premium for their clothes? The answer is that they don’t sell clothes as much as a lifestyle and a promise. Walk by the store, and you’ll see massive posters of beautiful, scantily clothed young people, reinforcing an image. All this time you thought you needed diet and exercise to look great? They’re driving home the message that what you really need is a pair of $120 jeans and a $70 t-shirt.

It’s easy to become a cynic when we look at intangible needs as part of customer pain. Sure, some intangible needs can seem silly, but many others are legitimate, even vital. Sometimes as an entrepreneur, these are the most intense kinds of pain you can address.

Find New Customer Pain

The process of creative destruction often leads to the creation of new customer pain. For example, nobody needed an auto mechanic until entrepreneurs started building cars. Nobody needed identity theft protection or credit monitoring until entrepreneurs created the personal credit report to address problems in lending and borrowing money.

Apple first unveiled the iPod during the heyday of Napster, when people could share songs with each other for free via the Internet. Yet, consumers’ widespread adoption of the product confirmed for Apple a new, unmet need: Customers wanted to be able to get music quickly, easily, relatively cheaply, and perhaps most important, legally. The result was iTunes, which grew into one of Apple’s most successful products.

At the same time, Apple designed the iPod so that it could be used only with headphones (earbuds, in the company’s nomenclature). Thus, users had a great new way to transport and play music but no way to play it loud enough to share. Users developed new pain and many other companies developed complementary products like external speakers and docking stations.

So, pay attention to trends and innovations, but don’t be like the hordes of other would-be entrepreneurs who rush to market with “me-too” products. Look instead for the new pain each entrepreneur causes, even as he provides a solution to something else. You’re almost guaranteed to find something. Customer pain is the ultimate renewable resource.

From Breakthrough Entrepreneurship by Jon Burgstone and Bill Murphy, Jr. Copyright © 2011-2012 by Jon Burgstone and Bill Murphy, Jr. Reprinted by permission of Farallon Publishing.

[Image: Flickr user Shandi-lee Cox]

Now accepting applications for Innovation by Design.

Original document, Why Customer Pain Is Your Most Important Resource
Source:https: Fast Company
Adapted for Academy.Warriorrising

30 Second Summary: Elevating Your Elevator Speech to a Whole New Level

30 Second Summary: Elevating Your Elevator Speech to a Whole New Level

So, what do you say after you say “hello”? The 30 second summary, often referred to as “the elevator speech” is a simple concept; it’s how you present yourself to others in 30 seconds, whether it is a person with whom you are networking, or perhaps an old friend who you actually do meet in the elevator!

Although simple in concept, as a Career Consultant, I know that crafting that perfect elevator speech is not so simple.  Most people experience some degree of difficulty in deciding what information to include in their summary, and many are fearful about their ability to deliver their summary in a smooth, conversational tone.  Although 30 seconds does not seem like a long time, think about watching a 30 second commercial on television and you’ll realize, you can convey a tremendous amount of information in 30 seconds!  And, just as some commercials are engaging and others fall far short of making a successful sales pitch, so too can your summary, meaning the difference between hitting the mark or being politely (usually), but quickly dismissed.

First and foremost, your 30 second summary must be compelling and leave the listener wanting more.  Crafting your summary is like painting a picture – the more vivid the picture you can paint using language that is interesting and concise, the more likely the listener will engage.

So, what should you include in your elevator speech?  As with any communication, it is important to understand your audience so that you can be very deliberate in what you say.  For example, when speaking with a specific contact or employer you’ve targeted, be sure to research the organization and incorporate that knowledge into your speech.  Creating your summary forces you to think about what it is you do, why you do it and how you feel about it.

In general, the main elements of your summary should include the following:

So, what about delivery?  When developing your 30 second summary consider the following:

When all is said and done, your aim is to strike up a conversation and keep it going so that your audience does want to hear more.  So much more in fact, that it becomes blatantly obvious that your talents and the needs of your audience are a perfect match!

Original document, 30 Second Summary: Elevating Your Elevator Speech to a Whole New Level
Source: KBRS
Adapted for Academy.Warriorrising

Crafting an Elevator Pitch

Crafting an Elevator Pitch

You’ve just bumped into a former client at the airport. After exchanging pleasantries, he asks you what your new company does. You open your mouth, and then pause. Where on earth do you start?

Then, as you try to organize your thoughts, his flight is called, and he’s on his way. If you’d been better prepared, you’re sure that he’d have stayed long enough to schedule a meeting.

This is one situation where it helps to have an “elevator pitch.” This is a short, pre-prepared speech that explains what your organization does, clearly and succinctly.

In this article, we’ll explore situations where these are useful, and we’ll look at how to craft an effective pitch.

Testing for Customer Pain

An elevator pitch is a brief, persuasive speech that you use to spark interest in what your organization does. You can also use it to create interest in a project, idea or product – or in yourself. A good elevator pitch should last no longer than a short elevator ride of 20 to 30 seconds, hence the name.

It should be interesting, memorable and succinct. It also needs to explain what makes you – or your organization, product or idea – unique.

When to Use an Elevator Pitch

Some people think that this kind of thing is only useful for salespeople who need to pitch their products and services. But you can use an elevator pitch in other situations too.

For example, you might use one to introduce your organization to potential clients or customers. You could use one in your organization to sell a new idea to your CEO, or to tell people about the change initiative that you’re leading. You could even craft one to tell people what you do for a living.


Creating an Elevator Pitch

It can take some time to get your pitch right. You’ll likely go through several versions before finding one that’s compelling and that sounds natural in conversation.

Follow these steps to create a great pitch, but bear in mind that you’ll need to vary your approach depending on what your pitch is about:

1. Identify Your Goal

Start by thinking about the objective of your pitch.

For instance, do you want to tell potential clients about your organization? Do you have a great new product idea that you want to pitch to an executive? Or do you want a simple and engaging speech to explain what you do for a living?

2. Explain What You Do

Start your pitch by describing what your organization does. Focus on the problems that you solve and how you help people. If you can, add information or a statistic that shows the value in what you do.

Ask yourself this question as you start writing: what do you want your audience to remember most about you?

Keep in mind that your pitch should excite you first. After all, if you don’t get excited about what you’re saying, neither will your audience. Your pitch should bring a smile to your face and quicken your heartbeat. People may not remember everything that you say, but they’ll likely remember your enthusiasm.


Imagine that you’re creating an elevator pitch that describes what your company does. You plan to use it at networking events. You could say, “My company writes mobile device applications for other businesses.” But that’s not very memorable!

A better explanation would be, “My company develops mobile applications that businesses use to train their staff remotely. This results in a big increase in efficiency for an organization’s managers.”

That’s much more interesting, and shows the value that you provide to these organizations.

Communicate Your USP

Your elevator pitch also needs to communicate your unique selling proposition, or USP.

Identify what makes you, your organization, or your idea, unique. You’ll want to communicate your USP after you’ve talked about what you do.


To highlight what makes your company unique, you could say, “We use a novel approach because, unlike most other developers, we visit each organization to find out exactly what people need. Although this takes a bit more time, it means that 95 percent of our clients are happy with the first version of their app.”

4. Engage With a Question

After you communicate your USP, you need to engage your audience. To do this, prepare open-ended questions (questions that can’t be answered with a “yes” or “no” answer) to involve them in the conversation.

Make sure that you’re able to answer any questions that might come back at you, too.


“So, how does your organization handle the training of new people?”


5. Put It All Together

When you’ve completed each section of your pitch, put it all together.

Then, read it aloud and time how long it takes. It should be no longer than 20-30 seconds. Otherwise, you risk losing the person’s interest, or monopolizing the conversation.

Try to cut out anything that doesn’t absolutely need to be there. Remember, your pitch needs to be snappy and compelling, so the shorter it is, the better!


“My company develops mobile applications that businesses use to train their staff remotely. This means that senior managers can spend time on other important tasks.

“Unlike other similar companies, we visit each organization to find out exactly what people need. This means that 95 percent of our clients are happy with the first version of their app.

“So, how does your organization handle the training of new people?”

6. Practice

Like anything else, practice makes perfect. Remember, how you communicate is just as important as what you say. If you don’t practice, it’s likely that you’ll talk too fast, sound unnatural, or forget important elements of your pitch.

Set a goal to practice your pitch regularly. The more you practice, the more natural your pitch will become. You want it to sound like a smooth conversation, not an aggressive sales pitch.

Make sure that you’re aware of your body language as you talk, which conveys just as much information to the listener as your words do. Practice in front of a mirror or, better yet, in front of colleagues, until the pitch feels natural.

As you get used to delivering your pitch, it’s fine to vary it a little – the idea is that it doesn’t sound too formulaic or like it’s pre-prepared, even though it is!

Original document, Crafting an Elevator Pitch
Source: Mind Tools
Adapted for Academy.Warriorrising