These are notes for a talk I’ll be giving in a few weeks about Value Propositions.

I’m a product person, but even I will admit that most of product building is actually sales. Building products for customers is more about selling than creating. And most of sales is about listening.

Listening is knowing you customer. It’s knowing what your customer wants and needs. Sometimes they will tell you that, but most often they won’t. Which is why matching that with a solution is so difficult.

The first arsenal in your sales toolkit is often just a value proposition. This can be as simple as a statement or visualization of your customer’s problem and your solution. Your value proposition is used anytime you are trying to sell yourself to a customer, investor, or anyone curious about your business.

Unsurprisingly, Basecamp has a great value proposition statement. All growing businesses run into the same fundamental problems. Hair on fire, buried under email, stuff everywhere. The good news? Basecamp solves them.

The first part is about articulating your customer problem - what is their painpoint, or what they want to accomplish with your product or service. A great framework for this is Jobs to be Done, which asks “what job is your customer hiring your product/service for?”

The second part flows from the first - it’s a simple expression your solution in a way that it solves that customer problem.

There are some interesting ways of breaking this whole process down into vitamins and painkillers, and filling out a value proposition canvas. All these are great techniques but the basics are pretty simple.