The W3 (Who, What, and Why) Framework was developed by Amos Schwartzfarb, author of Sell More Faster & Levers, and Managing Director of Techstars Austin Accelerator.
The W3 is a simple framework that enables founders and CEOs to figure out how to get on the path to product-market-fit and know when you've achieved it.
You want the definition of your customer to be as narrow and specific as possible so that it feels like you’re narrowing your total addressable market (TAM). I’m not asking you to actually narrow your TAM, your TAM is still your TAM. Through the exercise of narrowing and specifying your TAM, you’re creating a path to a successful TAM.
We want you to get to an exact customer profile that you will know, with 100% certainty, that your customer will buy from you today if you were standing in front of them.
Once you know WHO that customer is, and can identify all the attributes of that customer, at that point you’ll start reaching your entire TAM and build off the list of customer attributes.
Nope: We sell our product to the healthcare industry starting with private hospitals.
Good: We sell our product to the healthcare industry starting with private hospitals. Typically these hospitals have 250-500 employees and we sell to the Director of IT.
Best: We sell our product to the healthcare industry starting with private hospitals. Typically those hospitals have 250-500 employees and are located in the middle- to upper- class suburban areas. Our typical buyer is one of those hospitals that has the title of Director of IT, has 5 to 10 years of experience, but has been at this hospital for under a year. These hospitals typically use a specific legacy software that we can replace. The Director of IT has decision making ability and budget approval up to $100K annual.
As part of developing out and defining your customer or WHO, list out the attributes of your customers in detail below. Review the “best” description above for guidance.
It’s important to understand what your customers are actually buying from you, NOT what you are selling.
What is the thing that matters most to your customers? Write it down below.
Remember: No one cares what you do, only what you can do for them!
What are they actually buying from you? Write it down below.
It’s important to understand why your customer cares about your product or service and know you exist.
How does your solution relate to your customer’s business? Write it down below.
What value do you bring to your customer? Write it down below.
What is your customer’s motivation to buy your product? Write it down below.
Set a timer for 30 seconds and answer the following questions about your business.
Set a timer for 1:30 minutes to answer these additional questions about the business.
Consider these questions when answering: How do you know this is true? What information, data, metrics, customer validation, etc., do you have to validate that claim?
In the earliest stages of your business, you should be reviewing your framework regularly after every customer interaction. As time goes on you can move this to weekly, and when you’ve started to see some repeatability you can move these reviews to monthly. Even a mature business should be going through this exercise on a quarterly basis. This will help ensure you stay aligned with your customers and can build the biggest business possible
Together as a team, take time to reflect on what you learned and what you need to do as a company to support your W3 framework.
How did that feel? What did that make you think about?
What happened during those exercises?
What gaps in the data did you find?
What surprised you about the comments and answers from your teammate/cofounder? Why?
Write down additional thoughts below: