by Rob Wolfe
Your company’s value proposition is what sets you apart from your competition, what makes you unique and provides that niche in which you cannot be rivaled. Yet, articulating this can be difficult for a small business just getting started or for an emerging entrepreneur. You must always ensure that you consistently express your company/brand in a way that is directly aligned with its value proposition.
According to John Jantsch, marketing consultant, speaker, and bestselling author of Duct Tape Marketing, “As you develop a marketing strategy for your business you must proactively create the value proposition of “why us” and build all of your marketing messages, products, services, processes and follow-up communication around supporting that proposition [including in all website content, marketing collateral, and social media communication]...One very powerful way to create a point of differentiation is to carve out a narrow segment of a market and explain through every communication that you are the expert in serving that market.”
Jantsch adds, “If you want to succeed in business you have one job – find a way to propose that you are completely different in a way that a market wants and values...Quite often your clients value the little things you do that are special. Resist the temptation to dismiss them as unimportant enough to use as your core point of difference.”
How to Craft a Perfect Value Proposition
Wendy Maynard, Founder and Strategic Director of Kinesis, Inc believes the best way to articulate and perfect your value proposition is to learn how your CLIENTS define value from your business, not how YOU define the value you provide. She says, “Customers not only want to know ‘What’s in it for me?’ but ‘Why buy from you?’. If you can answer this question in a sentence, then you have a strong unique value proposition:”
Why should your ideal customer purchase from you rather than anybody else?
Looking at this from a slightly different angle, I personally believe that your value proposition must fill in the blank in the following statement from the perspective of your target market:
I will buy a product/service that ___________ better than any other product/service in the same category.
I also strongly agree with Jantsch’s assertion that the ideal way to discover the unique value you offer is to directly ask your clients/customers. He suggests a simple process he has used for many years that often helps business owners nail the core difference and value proposition that matters most, which is to identify your ideal client and commit to briefly sitting down with them face to face or over the phone and asking them questions. The goal is to look for themes and stories that offer clues to what really does make your firm unique. Ask them questions such as:
What’s one thing we do that you love the most?
What’s one thing we do that others don’t?
Would you mind conducting an online search now and simply type the phrase you would enter if our company were no longer around and you needed to replace what we do for you? (Have them physically do it and learn from watching them.)
As Maynard points out, a strong and differentiated value proposition can go a long way to position your business to succeed in your target market. It is the promise of your brand.
Have you used any other approaches to identifying your point of differentiation and articulating your value proposition? Do you have any suggestions in addition to those presented above?