What is customer paying for?

For a long time, I drank the coolaid and salivated about how cool my product should be to tempt customers to open their wallets.

When it wasn’t working, I got a bit wiser and thought about what problem I am trying to solve.

Until I burnt my own fingers (and a lot of money) it wasn’t apparent to me that even that is not the right way of looking at customer.

So, what is your customer actually paying for?

Most VC pitches have this mandatory slide on “what problem are you solving?” And “what is your value proposition”

This is a slippery discussion and leads entrepreneurs in the wrong direction.


Because it is all about “you” and not about the customer. By objectifying your customer, you are focused only on the “opportunity”.

Doesn’t it have to be about the customer?

By thinking about the problem “you” are solving or obsessing about “your” value proposition, the customer is long forgotten.

So, what exactly is the customer paying for?

Think about it.

There is this “problem”

And there is this “solution” (hopefully your product/solution)

Which of these does your customer care about?

The answer is neither!

Your customer only cares about what it means to her if the problem were to go away.

She cares about how amazing it would make her feel if the problem went away.

Unless the problem you are solving with your product makes them feel great, they are not going to buy.

What’s new about this?

The problem you are solving may be real – but may not be worth it for her. The value proposition here is not important enough for them to jump on it.

Imagine what would happen if your product wasn’t there? Nothing? Will life be as usual for her? Then, there is no strong value proposition.

Stop obsessing about value proposition. Your customer will tell you what the value proposition is. Focus on making your customer feel..

..good, thankful, overjoyed, relieved, safe, stressfree, happy, feel like hugging someone, feel like spreading the goodness, smart, amazing, intelligent, powerful, superman…

and the problem will become immaterial and the value will become implicit and you’ve got your customer for life!

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  1. Lalith K Jonnalagadda says:

    Got me thinking….I am working on Value propositions for my products and services right now !! May be I can get a free consultation !

  2. Bala Girisaballa says:

    Consultation will be free – but you will pay for a dinner for sure 😉