One of the biggest challenges I see on a daily basis with clients is how to deliver value propositions. Most businesses are started to fill an unmet need in the market place with their product or service. The catch is that so much attention goes into developing the vendor product or service, over time it’s easy to lose track of keeping what problem that product or service is solving and the benefit it’s delivering in the forefront–especially in the communications phase. In other words: What’s in it for THEM, the customer?
It’s critical to keep this question in mind when composing your messaging and positioning, then through the execution and communications phase. Below are my recommended five steps to delivering value propositions. My hope is that you walk away with a better sense of how to demonstrate the benefits of your product and service in a way that will grab the attention of customers and prospects above the rest in the playing field.
Step 1. Identify Customer Needs
- Ask yourself: What does the customer need or want that we (I) have that no one else is offering?
- Identify and outline each target audience (ie., IT manager, CEO, sales manager) and capture their specific needs/challenges
Step 2. Turn Product Features Into Customer Benefits: The ‘So What?’ Factor
- Answer the “What’s in it for ME?” question: Most customers and prospects don’t want to hear about your product’s performance, technical advances, or the complementary services you are offering UNLESS it answers what’s in it for them
- Ask yourself: What benefit will customers or prospects get from my product or service?Put yourself in their shoes
- Turn those benefits into a powerful value proposition summarizing the emotional appeal of the product or service, directly speaking to the need
Step 3. Develop Individual Customer Value Propositions
- Customize value propositions to meet the need/challenge for each individual target audience. For example: IT manager faces the challenge of conducting manual network management tasks (password changes, software upgrades, backups). The value prop of a software company is providing a solution to help IT managers automate mundane tasks faster, error-free and at a fraction of the cost–reducing IT support costs by 25-50%, lowering operational costs and ensuring network uptime 24/7. The emotional appeal: IT manager having peace of mind knowing he/she will be able to focus on more critical tasks that require priority attention.
- Do NOT attempt to create a single proposition that appeals to ALL customers and prospects
Step 4. Communicate/Deliver Your Proposition
- Engage, listen, and analyze what your customer is saying when delivering your value proposition. Understanding the motivations/demands of your customer or prospect is key to having emotional appeal. Plus you may discover new or refined needs to meet.
- Streamline value propositions across all communications materials, both internal and external. For example: Web site, product/service data sheets, brochures, internal messaging docs
- Always ensure and maintain consistency companywide, and in the field
- Remember: Customer attitudes and needs change–keep value propositions up-to-date
Step 5. Measure the Effect of Your Value Proposition
- Again: Engage, listen and respond. Doing so will allow you to have immediate feedback on whether it’s working, or not
- Value Measurement: The discipline of quantifying!
- Measure Improved Customer Relationships: Customer loyalty; repeat business; referrals
- Measure Increased Sales Effectiveness: Increased sales meetings; larger deal sizes; higher qualified leads; increased profits
- Measure Increased PR/Marketing Effectiveness: Web analytics; email campaign tracking; media/analyst mentions
Properly used and executed, strong value propositions will deliver ROI.
So…What are you doing to deliver an effective value proposition? I encourage you to share your experiences and commentary so we can all learn and engage together.