Value proposition canvas.

Love your customers.

When it comes time to really understand your customers, including their jobs-to-be-done, pains, and gains, as well as your offer to them, the Value Proposition Canvas, developed by Alex Osterwalder at Strategyzer AG, is one of the best tools available to help you in this regard.

How does the canvas work?

The VP Canvas has two building blocks. The customer side and your solution side. You always start with your customer.

Your customer profile.

1. Persona.
Fill in the name of your persona. Which customer segment do you have in mind for this proposition?

2. Job-to-be-done.
What are the jobs your customer is trying to get done in work or life? These could be both functional and social. What basic needs do your customers have (emotional and/or personal)?

3. Gains.
What would make your customer happy? What outcomes does he or she expect and what would exceed their expectations? Think of the social benefits, functional, and financial gains.

4. Pains.
What is annoying or troubling your customer? What is preventing him or her from getting the job done? What is hindering your customer’s activities?

Your product and services.

Your step-by-step guide.

Before you start.

Arrange for a comfortable environment. Definitely not a meeting room.

Pro tip: 
cut the canvas in two halves (the right part with the circle and the left part with the square). Start by showing only the right (circle) part to your team. This prevents them from immediately focusing on what they think features, pain relievers and gain creators should be.


  • Arrange a relaxed, positive and private environment.

  • Have markers (fine tip) and paper for everybody.

  • Print or draw the canvas on a big sheet of paper. 

  • Have plenty of sticky notes and markers.

  • Allow yourself 45 minutes of undisturbed time.

1. Start with your customer. Always.

To get started with the Value Proposition Canvas, always start with the customer. Of course, you may have many different customer segments that you serve (or want to serve). So, as a team your first task is to have a discussion about who the customers actually are from a high level, whereupon you can make some decisions about who you are designing for. You may need to fill out several canvas- es, one for each customer.

2. Ask why, why, why?

Once you’ve made the customer decision, as a team – using sticky notes and permanent markers – start to detail your customer’s jobs- to-be-done. What social, emotional, and functional jobs does your customer do on a daily basis?

They have some functional job that you know probably about. But you’ll also need to uncover how they do that job, how they feel, and what social qualities come into play. For instance, a parent with the job of driving a child to school may also have functional jobs of getting them there on time, ensuring they’re fed throughout the day, making sure they’re not looking like an outcast (social standing may be important), providing the feeling of being loved and appreciated, etc. Ask enough “whys” and you’ll get this info. Pains are usually easiest to get. What gets in the way of a person’s jobs? It’s gains that elude most first time users of the

Value Proposition Canvas. Gains are NOT simply the opposite of pains. Instead, gains are the hidden ambitions people have, above and beyond pain relievers. It takes a designer’s mind to uncover these. This is where asking the right questions is really important. What does your customer really aspire to do that they cannot do now? Going back to the parent-driver example, perhaps it’s to look like a hero to their kids and other parents or to see their kids succeed in life. If gains sound somewhat existential to you, that’s probably because great gains often are.

3. Your job.

Finally, once you’ve completed the right side of the canvas, move over to the left side. First, list some solution options that come to mind. You might have some already, or you might create some during an ideation session (detailed in the next chapter). With these in place, you’ll need to decide how these can be used together to address your customers’ jobs, pains, and gains in unique ways that resonate with your customers. Using this canvas a few times will help you think differently about your customers and what you offer to them. What’s more, if done well, your customers will think totally different about why they hired you to fulfill their needs in the first place.

Pro tip:
check the job-to-be-done with actual customers. You’d be surprised about the answers they will give.

Check out this video by Clayton Christensen to get inspired by a milkshake!

4. Check your work.

When you filled out your canvas, take a step back.


  • You mapped one customer persona per canvas.

  • You identified and prioritized at least 5 functional, social, and emotional jobs-to-be-done.

  • You identified and prioritized at least 5 pains.

  • You identified and prioritized at least 5 gains.

  • Every pain or gain is directly addressed by a corresponding pain reliever or gain creator.

  • The products and services cover the gain creators and pain relievers.

5. Next steps.

Let's get started with:

  • Find your riskiest assumptions.

  • Create an experiment to test your assumption.

  • Prototype the value proposition and validate your assumptions.

  • Check your assumptions with customers. Is it the real job-to-be-done?