3P Customer Strategy

Depicts the core 3Ps of Problem, Person and Purpose. Solve a specific problem for a specific audience to achieve a specific result.

A strong customer focus is vital in today’s highly competitive environment where large corporations can easily flounder and startups notoriously fail by offering products or services the market does not want.

And while no-one deliberately sets out to fail, it’s easy to get stuck in the build trap, without realising you’re heading in the wrong direction. To help address this risk, the 3P Customer Strategy is a simple framework for providing a customer-focused lens when innovating and assessing new business ideas.

The framework consists of a series of P’s that can be used throughout the product lifecycle to both trigger and validate ideas. It can be used either as a guide, a checklist or as a tool for facilitating group workshops and strategic thinking sessions.

Starting in the problem space

While there is no specific order or timing in which each of the P’s need to be considered, there are three that are core to any customer-focused strategy and should be understood by everyone in your team as early as possible. They are:

Problem – solve a specific problem

Person – for a specific audience

Purpose – to achieve a specific result

So for any product or service you work on, you need to have a very clear and consistent understanding of what the problem is that you are trying to solve, who you are solving the problem for and why they need the problem solved (what outcome or result do they really want)?

These may seem like trivial questions, but they are fundamental in helping you meet user needs and developing propositions that will achieve sustainable growth – and the only way to answer them is to ‘get out of the building’ and engage with your target audience through user research and continuous discovery practices.

Moving into the solution space

The remaining P’s help to shape the value and experience your customers will receive when they engage with your offerings. As you consider each P, you’ll find there is some natural overlap between them and this is to be expected. The main objective of this exercise is to think holistically and strategically about how your solution will meet user needs in a competitive and viable way. So the things you need to consider are:


Explain how you will solve your audience’s problem (provide value) and what makes your proposition different to other solutions that may be available?


In service design terms, what sort of people do you need ‘front stage’ to engage with your users and what sort of people do you need ‘back stage’ to carry out operational activities? How will you recruit highly talented people to work in your teams?


Will there be one product (like a mobile app) that everyone uses, or will there be multiple products across multiple devices? How will users access these? What sort of specialist software will your employees require to deliver the service?


Will there be any physical equipment that your customers will need to use? If so how and where will they access this? How will you manage this process?


How will your customers access your service? Will they have to go to a physical location, will they access it online, through the post or maybe a combination of all three?


What sort of dependencies will you have on other organisations for producing and distributing your product or service? How will you go about creating those deals?


What is the direct and in-direct competitive environment made up of? How will you position your product or service so that it differentiated to others in your field?


Describe your cost model? Will you offer different levels of pricing, will you go down the freemium route, how does your pricing support your Positioning?


How will you ensure that you have a viable business model that will generate a profit. Will this business model be sustainable over the long term?


How will you create awareness and generate demand for your product or service? Do you have a marketing strategy and does the product naturally lend itself to word-of-mouth referrals?

Refining and iterating your P’s

Good strategy adapts and improves based on new learning and better context, and this framework is ideal for getting your team together to review and update your thinking on how well you are meeting your customer’s needs and where you can make the improvements that will drive sustainable long-term growth.

Download the printable worksheets to help you facilitate the development of your customer strategy.

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