Some value propositions are broad because their creators didn’t want to leave anything out, and some are just too narrow.
This article will help those that want their value proposition to be concise, clear and relevant to as much of their audience as possible.
Let’s break it down.
We’ll start with a definition of the term. If you search “Value Proposition” you will see that there are a few points of view available. In my opinion, some of these are more complicated than they need to be.
An effective value proposition speaks to the relevant value your company brings, leading to a compelling and distinct user benefit. While this seems simple, so many value propositions are hazy and unclear. As is often true, complication can hinder communication.
Your value prop is nothing if it doesn’t speak to your audience in a way that touches them. That’s where the “relevance” comes in.
What is relevant value? It’s value that your audience actually cares about. Value that brings a solution to a problem that if solved, would result in a competitive advantage. Speaking of audiences, when you are doing your research, I hope you include some audience research while settling on your value proposition as you decide what is going to be valuable to them.
It can’t leave them lukewarm. It has to be strategic. The challenge here is to find the nugget that isn’t too granular, is broad enough to address your most important audiences, and not too broad to have any real meaning.
Another important facet of this equation is credibility. Your audience has to believe that your company can actually deliver on the solution you propose. If not, the effectiveness of your message will be limited.
This is a bit complicated because brand position is often deep rooted. Of course, you wouldn’t match your value proposition to an image that shortchanged your brand. On the other hand, don’t expect that your value proposition will have credibility just because you say it. You’ll need to provide reasons to believe over time to win the trust of an audience that is more and more skeptical of marketing promises. This is not insurmountable, though it just takes a disciplined and strategic approach. Often perceptions can be altered by presenting compelling evidence and using brand advocates to support your desired value position.
When it comes to value, here’s the catch…what was valuable to your market a few years ago, may not be valuable today, and sadly, companies often have no clue that the world has changed until it’s too late.
This is why an “environmental scan” is necessary once a year. That’s the subject for another day, but suffice to say that it has nothing to do with “the” environment and everything to do with “your” environment…the environment you do business in. This includes customers, competitors, technology, supply chain, the economy and more.
We will cover the details of this at another time but suffice to say it is entirely possible for a brand to develop a successful value proposition and prosper for years (with head in sand) while the world changes. Some companies don’t notice until it hits them on the head and either impossible or way more expensive than it needs to be to fix. Periodic environmental scans and a disciplined innovation process can help avoid this.
Most value propositions could be improved, clarified and made more impactful. As you address yours, look for a simple message with stopping power. One that you think will touch a nerve and differentiate.
One thing is for sure. Audiences, markets and competition changes. Likewise, a value proposition is a living breathing thing that takes focus to maintain its relevance.
In my experience all of the above challenges are solvable with the proper input and consideration. Start with value to the customer, let that lead you to user benefits and the advantages those benefits offer. Don’t worry, you’ll get there…it just takes some thought and perhaps an experienced partner to help jump-start the process.