Mark Blasini


Value always comes from the user


The popular mantra for business gurus is that if you want to make money, you have to provide value to people.

Truth is, value is not something you can provide someone else. Value is something users provide themselves. All you can do isallowusers to provide value to themselves.

A hammer, for example, has no inherent value to a user. A user doesn't want a hammer; he wants to put a nail into the wall. Putting a nail into the wall - that'sthe real value, the real thing the user wants. The hammer is just an object thatallowsthe user to do the thing he wants to do.

I'm writing this because many people get so focused on building a product or service that (they think) the user will want. But the user doesn't want your product or service! The user wants (maybe!) what your product willallowthem to do.

That's the "benefit" of buying your product. To take clear examples:

The important thing here is that value comes from activities. You are not providing people with "an experience." You're not giving people a peace of mind. You're not giving people love or peace or happiness. You can't give people those things.

All you are doing is allowing people to do desirable things. To put a nail into a wall. To search. To find potential soulmates. To sell their shit. To lose themselves in a movie or book. To show off and look pretty.

Things they either can't do or find it too difficult to do or are too lazy to do without your product or service.

Two important questions to ask yourself, then, if you're thinking of starting a business:

  1. What can my idea (product or service) allow my users to do?List all the activities your business can let people do. These are the real benefits you are selling.
  2. Who is willing to pay to be able to do those things?This is your target market, your niche.

Ask these questions, and keep asking them. Keep testing until you find a fit between the two: what you can allow your users to do and who is willing to pay for what you can allow them to do.

In the end, business is not about getting people's attention or giving them value. It's about empowering people to do what they can and want to.