Group updates on customer segments and value propositions

Last week, we worked on customer segments and value propositions. This week, we got started on our customer discovery plans and started working on channels and customer relationships.

In a comment on this post, at least one member of each group should update the class by briefly noting 1)the name of your startup 2)your key customer segments 3)your value propositions.

Also, briefly note what your plans are going forward for your customer discovery.

Doing this on the blog will allow you to articulate your current thoughts in writing and allow the rest of the class to weigh in if they have feedback and ideas. 

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20 thoughts on “Group updates on customer segments and value propositions

  1. Ken Thomas says:

    As you heard in the pitch segment of class, the name of our startup is ITVnewz.com. It represents Internet Television Newz as a viable brand in the internet news and information business. The brand is designed to allow franchise owner the ability to promote, sell and market each franchise as a partner of a larger company which will benefit the overall profitability of each franchise.

    We have identified our key customer segments as geographic neighborhoods, organized by zip codes. Additionally, we’ve identified civic organizations, athletic associations, and businesses as potential customer segments. We’ve also identified potential content suppliers and sample content to showcase the ITVnewz.com concept of the future in hyper-local news and information.

    Currently, our MVP’s will include a dummy website, social media attributes and partnerships within each community which could prove beneficial to success of the startup. We have established a Facebook presence, hidden off-line behind my Facebook wall, and already have 1 like. Soon we will be posting content to the Facebook page which will demonstrate the ITVnewz.com concept.

    • Carrie Brown says:

      Couple of thoughts. First, I think you should identify a geographic neighborhood or neighborhoods for your initial rollout. This will be somewhat vital to customer discovery as different neighborhoods may have different news needs. Also, these customer segments are pretty vague. Each “civic organization” has a different mission and needs. Once you’ve identified a specific geographic area, I would think about specifically what kinds of small businesses need to reach the kinds of readers you are going to target. Investors want to see that you’ve done your homework and provided a good bit of specificity here.

      Tell me your value propositions. What, specifically, are you offering to your readers? I don’t see that here. You aren’t offering them “a website.” The world is full of those. What needs will your website meet?

      • Ok, let’s get specific. Initially we are going to focus on three different communities: Germantown, Tennessee, Lithonia, Georgia, and Jacksonville, Florida. A link on the main page will take you to each respective location. Each of us will provide video content of news stories in each neighborhood within these cities. Ken has already provided a few news stories from his town to be included on the Jacksonville neighborhood site. Rupa Will create news stories from Germantown, and I will provide stories from Lithonia, Georgia via my video production students.

        The value proposition is that this is the original content from non-professionals (with the exception of Ken seeing as how this is what he does for living). Anyone is available to contribute video news stories as long as they are striving to be, that is, to look professional. This is exactly the kind of niche market that small businesses can thrive in because the nature of the hyper localness of it enables more exposure for these businesses.

        The needs are being met for 1) citizens in neighborhoods who desire more information/news about their local neighborhood in more than just print format. Lots of people prefer to watch a video new story, 2) small businesses who desire to reach these citizens, and 3) people who wish to break into the video news industry. The market is overly saturated, and “getting in” is difficult without exposure. iTVNewz can do that.

      • Carrie Brown says:

        Excellent. Good specifics 🙂

    • katvideos says:

      I understand the desire to focus on one community, however the whole entire concept is bringing communities back to hyper-local news across the country, not in a single community but all zip codes. In order to show a true representation of what the product would look like it has to have components from other markets/communities to enable consumers, advertisers and the rest of our target audiences to see the big picture and not just a sliver of it in Jacksonville, or solely in Germantown. The uniqueness of the concept is using multiple communities to formulate the hyper-local product under one brand. I really believe we need to keep the focus on the three communities, but maybe focus on very specific areas within each community. We have done that, I will be working on businesses in my community, Nitzana will be working on education in her community and Rupa will be working on social media marketing since she has a background in that. This is what we discussed last night in our meeting and decided to proceed from there.

      • katvideos says:

        we are also in the process of finding a local event in each market to go “cover” and write a short story to include. What we believe we will be offering the opportunity for folks to see what is happening in their communities, advertise directly to folks in their zipcode, connect with neighboring communities, have a sense of pride in their community by contributing to the news and information flow. Additionally, we believe by offering each community the opportunity to connect with their neighbors there will be an interest in seeing what neighborhing communities have to offer as well. Furthermore, we belive that an inherent “interconnectivity” could provide a useful benefit to the product as a whole, and to each zip code community as well. What we want to bring to our website, social media and community news organizations has the potential to turn back the hands of time and utilize the technology of today as a way to bring back the wholesome pride of yesteryear in each community we serve.

      • Carrie Brown says:

        Yes, I think those are good value propositions that I think make sense, and will continue to be honed with customer discovery.

        I think covering an event is cool for a prototype….definitely going beyond what is required…I might talk to people at the event about the idea and also show other people later what you’ve done to get their feedback as part of customer discovery.

      • Carrie Brown says:

        Hmm. The thing that would be difficult though is that you would need a pretty massive angel investment in order to launch a national hyperlocal product…..you’d have to find a way to staff it, nationally… Unless you see this as more of a PLATFORM for news providers as opposed to a news provider in itself, which is possible, but that’s somewhat different. If it’s a platform, you to be thinking about how you would attract your initial content providers. You guys have talked a lot about the need for students and others newer to the business to have a spot to publish their work, which I think makes sense, but each local site probably needs somebody to coordinate it, or at least good enough marketing that will make people want to jump in and start using it.

        You guys can do research on this as well, but the clear competitor in a space like this is Patch, which has struggled because doing hyperlocal on a national as opposed to a local scale is difficult. I might look at some of the “lessons learned” from them to inform your plans.

      • Ken Thomas says:

        Oh so true, but there’s a big difference between the patch and our pitch…it’s called franchiseeeeeeeee!!!!! A small franchise fee will get an on-site coordinator who is responsible for that particular site and the growth of it and any others they wish to purchase the franchise rights. That’s what makes the zip codes a vital part of the plan. While some zip codes have more population than others, many zip codes can be combined to cover a single franchise of ITVnewz.com. This is where the ‘I don’t care how much money any franchisee makes” portion of the original pitch comes in. I really don’t care, I’m making money on my zip codes just as the franchiseee’s are and an additional franchise payment from all the zip codes will help me turn a profit. The patch just started outright with a staff etc. We’re building a staff from within at the expense/desire of each franchisee. The key is “one brand” for a network of franchised hyper-local news and information outlets which share the same brand, ideology, methodology in their own business plan specific to each zip code or group of zip codes. I just read the Pegasus News section in the book. It’s very similar in the business plan, but where they didn’t purchase additional cities to expand operations, we want that to be a franchise. Think McDonalds, Blockbuster etc. where the franchise fee gets someone started in business behind the “blockbuster” name or the “McDonald’s” name and as far as the success of the business, it’s up to the franchiseeeeeee not necessarily at the hands of the parent corporation.

      • Carrie Brown says:

        I think then you have to think a lot about the needs of the franchisee. Why would they choose you, as opposed to just building their own site? I mean, you can start a hyperlocal website for VERY low startup costs on your own without giving anybody a fee, and many people have indeed done that. What’s in it for the franchisee? Having a big name brand helps, yes, but at the very beginning, you won’t have that – you have to build it. It almost seems you need a really successful first site to show proof of concept and build the brand – and then part of what you could market would be services to the franchisees -helping them getting started, helping them with revenue, etc. Also a franchisee like McDonalds benefits because of economies of scale – e.g. it’s cheaper to buy meat when you have a bazillion restaurants – but for news outlets, you don’t necessarily have that same advantage for the franchise system. Your costs are labor more than any kind of raw material. At minimum I think you really have to think a lot about how you are going to market this, if a key advantage you have is your brand and/or the specific features of the platform that maybe offers them something that would be so cool it is difficult for them to get on their own – it’s just somewhat harder to do that since we have so many great free or cheap services like WordPress.

  2. Hello All,

    Here is a little update on our progress thus far:

    As of yet we have not confirmed the name of our startup. One of our goals this week is to decide on a name. Possible names we are considering are
    Musicmatch.com
    Lastminutegig.com
    Fillin.com
    TheSHowMustGoOn.com.

    Initially we started with a very broad customer segment including musicians, event planners, businesses, etc. After getting some feedback from Dr. Brown and discussing it within our group we have decided to focus on musicians. Focusing on musicians does put us in kind of a niche market and we believe that focusing on such a specific group will help us figure out the best way to serve our customer base.

    As far as our value propositions we want to offer an easy and time efficient way for our customers to find musicians when they need them. Our website will streamline what could be a very tedious process and we also want to include an app so that our customers can access the information they need even when they are on the go.

    During our last meeting we worked on a questionnaire that we can use to gather important data so that we can give our customers what they want and need. We will each be conducting surveys so that we can get information from as many different sources as possible in hopes that we will be able to put together a game plan that accurately solves the problem we are trying to solve.

    • katvideos says:

      I like the show must go on!

    • Carrie Brown says:

      Okay, good. Does the rest of the class have any input on the names? I kind of like Last Minute Gig.

    • I like lastminutegig as well

    • Misty Menees says:

      Our Questionnaire for Customer Discovery.

      1. How difficult is it to find a replacement musician for a gig when needed?

      2. Have you ever had to cancel a gig last minute due to a missing musician?

      3. Would you be interested in a website that matches talent seekers with the talent they need in an easy and efficient manner?

      4. If a service like the one described above was available would you be willing to pay to use the service?

      5. What is the highest price range you would consider (per month)?
      a. $10-$20 b. $20-40 c. $40+

      6. Would you prefer monthly, annual, or per usage payments?

      7. Do you think it would be helpful to have an app that accompanies the website described above? (please rate how helpful you think it would be on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the most helpful)
      1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

      8. The following is a list of features that may be included on the site. Please circle the 3 features that are most important to you:
      * Video clips of the musician playing
      * Being able to search for musicians by location
      * Artist availability
      * How long they have been playing and performing
      * List of past gigs (including artists they have played with)
      * Reviews from past gigs
      * List of which Genres they are willing to play
      * Ensuring that profiles are updated regularly
      * The ability to download an App to accompany the site
      * Other (Please note additional features that interest you)

  3. Online Education: Nigeria’s Answer for the 21st Century
    Nigeria’s Online Institute
    Julia, Angela & Inaju

    Our project is a start-up for a Nigerian based online higher education institution.

    CUSTOMER SEGMENTS:

    1. Undergraduate Students:
    This customer segment of Nigeria’s Online Institute is comprised of four levels. The first is students making the transition from secondary education to higher education, still working to achieve the scoring and acceptance criteria needed to be admitted into Nigeria’s higher education institutions. The second is a demographic already meeting the test scoring and academic standards needed to be accepted into higher education institutions still seeking admission. The third, is a demographic meeting all criteria for admission, admitted yet still interested in enrolling in online coursework. The fourth is a non-traditional demographic already in the workforce, seeking to pursue a post-secondary degree program.

    2. Graduate Students:
    This customer segment encompasses a population seeking to pursue a masters and doctoral level of academics. This is a demographic which may be unable to leave a full time position/profession to attend on ground courses while pursuing this degree.

    VALUE PROPOSITIONS:
    1.Undergraduate Students:
    a. High School General Certificate of Education & JAMB candidates:
    This is a large demographic of the population accounting for millions of individuals between 16-25 years of age. This is a niche market heavily targeted by on-ground institutions across the country. This is the age demographic standing on the launching pad of their dreams, goals and professional pursuits. Nigeria’s Online Institute will offer coursework and specialized exam preparation coursework in order to assist this demographic in order to achieve the benchmarks necessary to gain admission into a post-secondary institution.

    The Nigeria Online Institute corners a niche market here. There is not an academic program on-ground or online offering such coursework. In addition, individuals will seek to enroll in the program because it is accessible and will offer a high quality of education. This will in turn assist these individuals in achieving the first step towards their goals and academic pursuits.

    b. The second is a demographic already meeting the test scoring and academic standards needed to be accepted into higher education institutions still seeking admission: The Nigeria Online Institute will be able to offer enrollment opportunities to the many still waiting for the opportunity to be admitted. This opportunity is greatly desired by this population. The NOI will be be able to offer education to more because of the online nature of the course curriculum. In addition this demographic will find value in the NOI’s accessibility and quality.

    c.The third, is a demographic meeting all criteria for admission, admitted yet still interested in enrolling in online coursework: The value proposition will be the accessibility, affordability and the quality.

    d. The fourth is a non-traditional demographic already in the workforce, seeking to pursue a post-secondary degree program: The most certain value proposition is accessibility. In addition, this customer segment will find value in the quality of education offered.

    2. Graduate Students:
    This demographic encompasses a population seeking to pursue a masters and doctoral level of academics. This is a demographic which may be unable to leave a full time position/profession to attend on ground courses while pursuing this degree. The most certain value proposition is accessibility. In addition, this customer segment will find value in the quality of education offered. The ability to continue academic pursuits while maintaining professional career will be of great value to those seeking balance.

    CUSTOMER DISCOVERY CHANNELS:
    Facts live outside of your office and therefore stepping out from behind the desk is a requirement for seeking the feedback and information needed to move forward.

    On the startup level, our first step is to ask important questions of our potential customer segment. Here, we could utilize a short survey using surveymonkey.com and seek information across many demographics of geographic areas, socio economic ranges as well as ages. In addition, this survey could be replicated using Ground Source. The links to the surveys and application can be shared through emails and social media.

    Customer discovery channels for building the startup plan and in implementing Nigeria’s Online Institute includes but not limited to:
    a. Leveraging social media advertising; For example the use of Yahoo groups as well as friends and family pages; b. Location visits to areas where customer segments are found; For example – high schools, men and ladies clubs, bus stops (public transportation – negotiating trade agreements by offering tuition breaks to public transportation employees for advertising )
    c. Leaflets, flyers, posters, face caps, IEC materials; d. Secure and do on-air interviews and guest appearances to discuss the online initiative and academic opportunity; e. work with existing university’s student clubs and organizations to organize events and share information; f. establish rapport and partnerships with local celebrities(music, film, television) and professional athletes to establish spokesperson/role models to be advocates and ambassadors.

    • Carrie Brown says:

      Wow! Great work. This is the kind of specificity I was hoping for – and as we discussed in class, the value propositions are closely tied to each customer segment. In doing research/customer discovery you may want to learn more about the best channels for these segments e.g. which social media sites are used most to focus your efforts but you’ve got a lot of great channel ideas here. Love idea of using Groundsource. If you have questions about Groundsource, the founder Andrew Haeg is on Twitter @andrewhaeg

  4. Thank you! Excellent – I think we’ll have to focus in/refine & prioritize our questions based on what we can gain going in AND how the information can be used in measurement (later on down the road). Then we can move forward with our survey efforts. I’d be willing to bet we’ll have our first customer segment findings returning over the next two weeks. I am hoping Groundsource will cross continents and IPOs easily. We will certainly see. Thanks for the feedback! Go Team GOOOOO!!

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