The 5 P’s of Product or Non-Profit Success

The 5 P's of Product or Non-Profit Success

You’ve heard about the 4 P’s of Marketing: Product, Price, Promotion and Place (distribution channels)

Whether you are an intrapreneur, a technopreneur, a service provider, own and run a private practice, an edupreneur or a social entrepreneur, the success of your product, service or non-profit will depend on your answering the 5Ps:

  1. What is the problem you are trying to solve? Start by being a problem seeker, not a problem solver. Non-profits seek to help specific underserved people as beneficiaries. For profits seek to solve a particular customer problem. Doctors treat patients with problems.
  2. Who is the person who has the problem? Defining an industry segment, not a person, as the customer is a rookie business model canvas mistake.Organizations, buildings or companies don’t have problems. People inside of those entitities do. Find out who that person is and get inside their heads and walk in their shoes.
  3. How painful is the problem? In part, we have an opioid epidemic because health professionals have not done a good job of quantifying a given level of pain and prescribed the most appropriate analgesic. Entrepreneurs shouldn’t make the same mistake. Is your customer bent over in pain begging for morphine or do they simply have a minor ache and just want an aspirin to make it go away? Unlike the desirability of unwanted addictive medicines, however, creating an addictive technology, e.g.a cell phone, a game or a social media site, can result in a trillion dollar company.
  4. How much are people with the problem willing to pay to solve it? Whether and how much someone will pay for your solution depends on several factors, including how much the customer values your solution compared to competitive offerings or the status quo, whether it is a nice to have or a must have solution (like regulatory or compliance requirement satisfaction) or whether it is something proximately linked to the next step, like requiring some education or training to get a certain job or having to have a tool to do a certain job. How much customers are willing to pay will determine, in large part, whether you can make and sell the product at a profit.

Sickcare is a different case because the patient, who is the end user, and the doctor, who acts like a purchasing agent, is often not the person who pays for it. However, look for models where someone else would be willing to pay to have a customer use your product. The most common example is a bilateral market model (dating service) that is sponsored by a company so they can get access to your data or sell something to the users e.g. a medical device company sponsoring an online surgical video journal.

5. Do you have a pipeline/platform to get, keep and grow people willing to pay you? In other words, how will you market and sell your product?

Answering these questions is the purpose of your customer discovery journey and eventually informs your value proposition and business model canvas. Start with answering these basic questions and don’t do anything else until you find the answers.

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Arlen MyersArlen Meyers, MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs at

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Arlen Meyers

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is an emeritus professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine ,teaches bioentrepreneurship and is Chief Medical Officer for Bridge Health and Cliexa. He is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs at and author of the Life Science Innovation Roadmap.




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