Capturing Customer Value with Canvases

I’ve talked a lot before about “know thy customer” and persona driven models for modelling customer need.  Lately, I’ve been doing some work with the startup community and have been working with a number of modelling canvases such as the Business Model Canvas and the Lean Canvas.  These techniques really get you to start with the customer and focus on the value you should target with them.

The first step is to brainstorm with your team to come up with all the possible Customer Segments that you want to serve with your business model or solution.  You might want to rank these and choose the top 1-3 to go further into a profiling exercise.

As I’ve mentioned in other posts, you really want to identify with these segments.  Give them a name, a personality, an environment.  Really try to document what you feel these people might want, need as well as what causes them grief.  Remember, these are still assumptions that you’re going to need to validate as you continue the customer development process.

There are a few different canvases that I have been experimenting with.  One is called the Empathy Map.  The Empathy Map is a tool developed by a company called XPLANE.  Ultimately, like all canvases, really helps the team collaborate together to gather together a common understanding of the customer segment.


The second canvas is very similar to the empathy map, however, I find more consumable to push results directly into your business model canvas.  This second canvas is called the Value Proposition Canvas created by Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur and Alan Smith.


You can find more information about this canvas on Alexander’s blog

As you continue to define your customer, there are a few other techniques you can rely upon as well.  Personally, I think telling stories of that person in a narrative is also a really powerful tool for communication.  We humans born to tell stories to communicate knowledge – we’ve been doing it for 1000’s of years.  Even better if you tell your story visually.

I can’t stress enough that even though you have filled out your canvas as a result of your brainstorming meetings with your teams – this does NOT mean you are correct.  These are all still some good guesses that you will need to think about trying to validate

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