A value proposition is simply a statement of the outcome your product or service delivers for your ideal customer. It’s not a new concept or a difficult one. But ironically, the value of a value proposition is often ignored, underestimated or misunderstood. I thought it would be worthwhile to try and rectify that, so here are 4 things organizations get wrong about value propositions and how to fix them.
Mistake 1) Not having a value proposition. Amazingly, people running businesses generating tens or hundreds of millions in revenue sometimes question the need to have one at all. You can spot them a mile off – they’re the ones whose marketing is all about them rather than the customer. Ironically then, these are the businesses that would benefit from a value proposition the most.
Solution: Take half a day to sit down with your leadership team to define the value your business delivers, and create a compact proposition statement that describes it. Make that statement simple, credible and compelling.
Mistake 2) Thinking a value proposition is just “marketing”. It really isn’t. It describes the essence of why your organization exists. Without a clear definition of your value, what is your business actually for?
Solution: When creating your value proposition, examine “value” from multiple perspectives. For example, it might be less about the features of your product or service, and more about how you deliver them, especially if you’re in a mature market. And of course, what matters is your customers’ perception of value, not yours!
Mistake 3) Value propositions that are backwards. Traditionally, a value proposition statement is structured like this:
We deliver <<product or service>> to <<target audience>>, who <<need xyz>>, so that <<benefit xyz>>.
The big problem with this is that it starts with your business, and the customer benefit or outcome is almost an afterthought. A better approach that I’ve used with many businesses is:
For <<target audience>> who <<need xyz>>, <<product name>>, delivers <<benefit xyz>>.
At least here, the customer is front and center. But the benefit/outcome still comes last.
Solution: Recently, I have started advising clients to put the outcome first, like this:
<<Benefit/outcome>> for <<target audience>> who <<need XYZ>> - that’s what <<business/product name>> delivers.
When it comes to translating this into marketing communications, all you need is the benefit/outcome; think Apple’s “1000 songs in your pocket” strapline for the original iPod.
Mistake 4) Not communicating your value proposition clearly enough internally. When I help businesses that are underperforming, one of the first things I do is ask 10 different people within the organization what their business is for from a customer perspective – what the value or customer outcome is. I often get 10 different answers. Sometimes I get 10 conflicting answers. That’s when I know they’re really in trouble.
Solution: Once you have created your value proposition, you need to communicate it to everyone consistently and relentlessly. Customer-facing employees in particular must be communicating the same message at all times. It should come to them as quickly as their childrens’ names or partner’s birthday.
I help businesses of all kinds dramatically improve their performance by defining and communicating their value more clearly.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free, no-obligation conversation about how I can help.
Like this? Sign up to my Insperatus newsletter.
Copyright Hamish Mackenzie Consulting, 2021