Create a Value Proposition that Matters to Your Customers
The Confident Marketer Playbook: Step 6
Lately, I have been working with clients who struggle to unify their message in the market. It's not so hard if you sell one product to one type of customer. But add in multiple products, different customer verticals, and dozens of sellers, and you'll end up with a consistency problem if you're not careful. I want to help you design a unique message that is different from the rest of the crowd, is consistent, and is measurable. In this article, I will discuss a lot about "value proposition." I'm not even going to assume you know what that means. Most marketers don't know what it means, though they may have a basic idea.
My definition of a value proposition comes from the book I co-authored, Value-ology, which states: "a promise of expected future value illustrating that future relevant and distinct benefits will outweigh total cost of ownership."
Your value proposition is only effective if it is relevant to the current buyer trends and habits. We know that buyer habits can change overnight. This means your job as a marketer is never finished. You have to adjust as necessary. The world will not stand still so you can keep the value proposition you already designed!
I recommend updating your value proposition at least once a year, so you can be sure you are still solving real problems for real people.
Why Your Value Proposition Matters
For one thing, if you don't communicate customer value, you'll lose the sale. Your message needs to tell your customer what they get and how that is a big deal for them. If customers don't believe in the value of your product, why would they buy it?
Your Value Proposition Takes Into Account Everything Your Company Does
In Value-ology, my co-authors and I defined an ideal value proposition as something that is MUSICAL:
Monetary calculation—of financial benefits minus cost
Unique—things that set you apart from competitors
Spend—how much the customer is prepared to pay
Impact—how it will positively impact the customer
Capability—what it is that you can do for the customer to make this impact
ALigned—to the key needs of the customer
Does that sound like a lot of elements at play? It is. You and your marketing team can create a message. However, if it doesn't have actual substance as the basis of the message, then it's going to be easy for customers to shrug it off or forget about it. The actual substance will come from the input you will get from other departments in your company. The IT department, accounting, sales, customer service, and other departments can all speak to various parts of the MUSICAL formula. It's your job to gather that information and use it to design your value proposition.
Your Value Proposition Reminds Others Who You Are and How You Are Different
Buying cycles are becoming more and more complex. As a result, your value proposition needs to connect the dots for potential buyers and clearly illustrate how your solution solves their problem. You need to design a message that stands out in a crowded market. Remember Step 3: Gaining New Insights? I talked about doing your research and gathering insights that make you a more confident marketer. Once you have done all that research, you will have a better understanding of your customers, their problems, and how your company can market to them. Use that insight to create a powerful and persuasive value proposition that they cannot ignore.
Additionally, make sure your message is consistent with your brand. Consistency helps people remember you, and it helps people make connections between your message and your company.
5 Questions You Need To Answer
As you design your value proposition, ask yourself the following five questions:
1. Who Are You Talking To?
Identify your ideal customer. Gather important data about them, such as what they spend money on, how they make their decisions, and what other companies they prefer to deal with. Your ideal buyer and their motivation should be very clear in your head. Use our buyer personas tool to help you personalize your message. When you have accurate data that gives you a clear picture of your ideal customer, you can speak to them in terms that they will engage with.
2. What Problem Do You Solve?
Put yourself in your customers' shoes, and ask yourself what problems they are currently facing. What can you do for them that will help them solve their problem, overcome their problem, or change their problem into something better? Likely, most of your customers do not have a clear idea of their problem. As a result, you will have to spell it out for them. Use language they understand, not industry jargon. Explain their problem in simple terms, and tell them why this problem should not continue. Think back to the "AL" in "musical." Customers only solve big problems. If you do not align your product to a big, messy challenge that your customer is facing, they will not even consider buying your product/solution. Ultimately, you must tell them what could happen if they do not do something to get rid of the problem.
3. How Does Your Organization Solve the Problem?
Now that you have a specific (and real) customer problem in mind, write out a before and after scenario. For example, what is your customer's life like now, and how will it be better after your customer uses your product? Don't try to make your product seem like it is going to be the answer to multiple problems. Even if your product has multiple features that do multiple things, stick to your customer's basic problem. The "C" in "musical" relates to your company's capabilities to solve the problem. Communicate the benefits of your product and the outcomes that result from buying and using the product. You will make more sales solving actual problems than you will selling fancy features.
4. Why Are You Unique?
You researched your competition, so you know how you compare with the other companies out there. Next, you have to communicate those differences to your customer. For example, how does your product solve your customers' problems better or differently than other products that are currently out there? Try to get your customer to see their future after purchasing or using your product. Remind them that they won't get this outcome from other products. You are uniquely positioned to solve the problem in the ideal way. Remember the "U" in "musical"?
As you consider your company's unique attributes, make sure they actually matter to your customer. Here's another good time to put yourself in your customers' shoes. For instance, ask yourself why you should care about your company. What makes your company interesting? Identify business value and ensure that value complements the value of the individual product. You don't want your customer to become confused by mixed messages from your own company.
5. Where Is the Proof?
You can talk about yourself, your company, and your product all day long, but it won't mean anything unless you have facts to back up your claims. Some messages are just "marketing fluff." They look pretty, but they have no substance. Remember, your customers are probably very shrewd, and they will not buy a product if they cannot financially justify the cost. This relates to the "M" and "I" elements of the musical chart above; you must measure the impact of your product. To demonstrate the ROI of your product, use customer testimonials, case studies, or some other factual evidence that is proof your product has value.
Get Your Leadership To Agree on Your Value Proposition
The hardest, yet most overlooked step: getting everyone in your organization onboard with your value proposition. You will need the help of your leadership and the other departments to gather your information and put it together into one clear message that will speak to your targeted audience.
Yes, your business is complex, and you sell more than one thing. And yes, a lot is going on. I am telling you right now that the key to consistency is to unify your approach. Break down the walls between the individual departments in your company and agree on how you will put together a clear, consistent, and unique message that will engage your customers. Get everyone's help in gathering the data and conducting the research.
Then, once the research is gathered, and you have your insights, be confident. You now know what your company is all about, and you know what your customer needs. Your product does have value, and you know how to present it so it is compelling. Your marketing prowess will help your company sell your product, which means more revenue and more growth.
Designing a Unique Value Proposition Helps You Move Forward With Confidence
The next step in the Confident Marketer Playbook is content strategy. After you have designed your value proposition, you can build up your marketing content to reflect the unique value of your product. I am happy to continue leading you forward through the various steps to being a more effective and more confident marketer.
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