Why your value proposition needs to be the heart of your business.
UNDERSTAND YOUR CUSTOMERS AND YOU’LL MAKE SENSE OF YOUR BUSINESS
As a start-up or an SME owner, you’re probably familiar with the concept of the elevator pitch… how would you describe your business to someone in the 15 seconds it takes for the lift to reach the 4th floor?
How many times have your eyes glazed over when someone begins “we use neuroscience and artificial intelligence to ensure semantically comprehensive wording …” instead of just telling you they’ll get you ranking higher in the search engines?
Your value proposition tells the customer the value of your offer. It demonstrates how well you understand your world from your customers’ point of view. It’s the thing you uniquely provide that helps your customers relieve a pain, solve a problem, make it easier/faster/cheaper to do something – or do it better.
It’s the reason they’ll buy from you rather than the competition.
…AND TO PROVE IT
This understanding of how to serve a customer need enabled UBER, Air B’nB and Netflix to disrupt the markets they operate in without actually offering anything new in terms of products. Taxis, accommodation and films are products or services we’ve had for ages – but their new business models offering different access or delivery methods have changed their respective industry paradigms forever.
And by making your value proposition the centrepiece of your communications strategy – the messages and stories you use on your website, your email, brochures and at networking events – your brand offering will be more engaging, compelling and inspiring to the people who need you.
It answers the question – HOW WILL YOU MAKE MY LIFE BETTER? And it’s not just for the customer. It’s the focal point for your business that will have your employees and stakeholders singing from the same hymn sheet. If you’re raising finance, it’s the hook that gets investors excited.
SELLING HOLES NOT DRILL BITS.
There’s a saying that goes, “Nobody wants to buy a drill bit, they want to buy a hole”
Customers don’t care about your solution per se…
But they will warm to you if you manage to show empathy for their issues – the problems (or obstacles) that keep them from achieving a goal or getting a job done (a great example is this story-based ad for The Trainline)
It’s important to establish what a value proposition is not. It is not a slogan (“Just do it”). Nor a list of product features.
Don’t lavish loving descriptions on your product or service – Your value proposition should cover three elements:
• The (authentic) promise of what you’ll deliver to your customers
• How you’ll make their lives better
• Why they should choose you over your competition
IT’S NOT WHAT IT DOES – ITS HOW IT CHANGES YOUR LIFE
Take the example of note-taking app Evernote – fans find it indispensable for storing all their notes, thoughts and ideas from their phone, laptop and iPad to one place.
While they have a number of propositions focused on different user needs, their key proposition is not “we’ve got the best note-taking app in the world” (even though arguably it is). Instead it focuses on how it will improve your life, “Evernote helps you stay organized and save time…”. This builds out into a number of different messages and straplines depending on the context:
“…helps you capture ideas and find them fast”
“Organize your notes with Evernote”
Championing the customer as the centre of your (organisation’s) world, you’ll discover you’re developing the art of listening, getting a deep understanding of the problems you provide effective solutions for.
Thinking about the size of the hole your drill is going to help your customer make
Think about the pain that these companies have helped to ease…
For Evernote’s customers – the challenge is all about having notes and articles written, clipped and saved in a million different places.
Google is there when you need to quickly find the answer to almost anything.
Amazon make it easier to buy just about whatever you want, at a competitive price with guaranteed speedy delivery and no-fuss returns.
Uber gives you a more reliable, easier to book and pay for service than a traditional cab firm.
Slack makes “working lives simpler, more pleasant, and more productive.”
They all make things simpler and easier.
HOW DO YOU DISCOVER YOUR VALUE PROPOSITION?
Let’s assume you’ve done your customer and competitor research. You know who your customer is, and the markets you’re competing in. If so, you’re ready to do the following:
Put yourself in the shoes of your customer. Live their life. Feel their pain. How is your product going to make a difference to them?
- What are the jobs our customers need to do (make quarter inch holes in the wall, get home etc)
- What are we solving for our customers (uncertainty, delays, substandard service)
- How is our product/service better than others? (cheaper, simpler, more reliable)
- What extra value do we offer that will surprise them (fast delivery, low carbon packaging, bonus products)
Finish these statements from the customer’s point of view
- “I want to buy this product or idea because it will…”
- “The things I value most about the offer are…”
- “It is better than competing products or ideas because…”
The answers may surprise you. The language will be real. The net result will be a closer connection to your customer. They’ll feel they have a relationship with you because they believe that you understand their needs, their situation, their vision, their constraints, their goals….
Are you selling drills, or the easiest way to make holes?
Steve Simmonds @The Big Pitcher
We help you see your business differently. From proposition to presentation, we challenge the status quo bringing fresh perspectives and purpose to old and new problems. We craft inspiring ways to engage your prospective customers or investors with your story