The Bridge of Sighs—and 5P's that attract a buyer

For those who have not visited Venice, the “Bridge of Sighs” may conjure up visions of cooing lovers gazing dreamily into each others eyes. The reason behind the name is, however, distinctly unromantic.

The bridge links the Justice Courts of the Doges Palace to the New Prison and was the  route by which the convicted were led from sentencing to sentence. The Sighs in the epithet are said to be the final ‘souffles’ of the prisoner as they stole a (perhaps final) view of their beloved Venice through the latticed walls.

In 2013, the duration of our stays may be shorter, the accommodation may be plusher and the gaolers may wear suits, but some executives still think wistfully of other ways of spending their time, as they swipe their cards, and fiscally and emotionally shackle themselves to their work environment.


I do not refer here to boisterous youths harbouring dreams of life on the football field. This is the perspective given to me by my 8 dinner companions, all successful executives who have, collectively

1. $2.5bn assets under their control

2. a total income exceeding $3m in 2012

2. 170 man-years of work experience

Control of your diary is real wealth

Yet, despite their successes, full vacation entitlement was only taken in 8 of the 170 man-years, and 1 member was taking a two-week vacation for the first time in 30 years

Using the definition of wealth as ‘control over your discretionary time’, I asked the group if they considered themselves wealthy?  

Each answered no, each considered him or herself, ‘cash rich, time poor.’ The reasons behind this were various (weak direct reports, decision-making processes), all were surmountable. It’s not that they couldn’t take time off, it’s that they felt unable too. 

And therein lies an opportunity.

The dinner discussion reminded of story from a client.  Their customer worked in the fine fragrance industry, a notoriously fast-moving and fickle market.  My client has developed a new fragrance for a baby lotion. In response, their customer, Head of Research for ‘Baby’ responded, “The feedback from the focus group was amazing.  It allowed me to take my first vacation in 5 years.”  Apparently, so frustrated was she about the lack of progress on discovering a fragrance acceptable to babies with ‘cradle cap,’ she had refused herself vacation.  As she was also the economic buyer, this psychological release was perceived to provide a 2% price premium.

Behind every business need lies a personal need.

It is clear: behind every business need lies a personal need. If you can address both, you’ve created huge value.

Which brings me to the buyers 5P’s. These are applicable to all buyers—industrial, FMCG, financial services, public, private or personal. 

The 5P’s of the buyer are:

1. Profit

2. Pain free

3. Pride

4. Pleasure 

5. Problem-solving hero

Provable Profit

Is your product and service having a quantitative financial impact on my operation? It is easy to measure, easy to communicate—and easy to beat. Your position is fragile if this is the only ‘P’ you hit.

Make the Pain go away 

Are you removing distractions and inefficiencies that are preventing me from doing my job or living my life? Remember though that pain, once eased, is soon forgotten.

Let me shine with Pride

Is what you are doing for going to allow me to stand proud in front of my peers, competitors, friends and family? Will your offer enable me to stand back and see the positive impact I’ve had on others? Will your product build my self-esteem?

Where's the Pleasure in this?

Does your offer excite me? Don’t think this one is important? Look at some of the world’s biggest brand leaders; Disney, Apple, Harley-Davidson, Mercedes, BMW, Louis Vuitton.

I'm a Problem-solving hero

Have I improved my problem-solving capability as result of what you have given me? Have you given me skills, capabilities or experiences that allow me to give more value to my organisation—and demand more value in return? Have you made me the problem-solving hero who is in high demand?

Take the Quiz

Which ‘P ‘ gets you in the door—but not much further?

Which ‘P’s get you premiums, customer referrals, customer retention, and the opportunity to be better and different than the competition?

On a score of 1-10, how well do you score against each ‘P’?

How do you fare against the competition?