Getting the most from your value proposition

Do you know your value proposition? Does it actually mean anything? Chances are it doesn’t. Fear not, having trained over 600 organisations, Paul Chuter knows a thing or two about the subject. He reveals all to Molly Raycraft.

Paul Chuter, owner of Lindum Associates and a regular trainer for B2B Marketing arrived in the marketing industry from the dark side. “I used to do a lot of sales training and I enjoyed working with sales people,” he says.

His first divergence into marketing was at the age of 21 and it was somewhat of an accident. “I wanted a better sales job than I had then. I was attracted to marketing because it felt creative -- I thought it would make me rich and attractive,” Paul laughs.

It wasn’t until he bought and sold the IT recruitment services group, Kingfisher in 1990 that he realised marketing was the path he wanted to commit to. “I decided the part I enjoyed the most was coming up with ideas for products and what the propositions would be,” he says. “I wanted to be at the conception of things rather than bringing up the baby afterwards.”

This turned his focus to consultancy, copywriting and training – something he’s now been doing at Lindum Associates for nearly 28 years.

The 2500 year-old question

Whatever you’re writing will always come back to one essential question: what’s in it for your audience? It’s something sages through the decades have stressed the importance of. “Lots of people come and go with ideas, but the root of the way people respond to things will always go back hundreds of years,” says Paul. “Some of the stuff I teach goes as far back as Plato, Socrates and Aristotle. You can go through the fifties with people like Bill Bernbach and John Caple, and the nineties with Robert Cialdini.”

It’s clear from our conversation that Paul is a vivacious reader and an emphatic learner. In fact, he boasts a bookshelf filled with industry authors such as Malcolm Gladwell, Daniel Kahneman, and Stephen Coby. “Every time I go on holiday, the books I take with me are on things like neuroscience, marketing, advertising and the power of persuasion. My wife thinks I’m crazy but this is just me relaxing,” Paul says.

Beneath the tip of iceberg

His breadth of reading has fed Paul’s inspiration, enabling him to avoid the common pitfall of writing in conventional narratives.

“If someone is writing a sales letter or email, they’ll start by introducing themselves and explain who they are, who their company is, and who their customers are,” he explains. “Doing that means you’ll fail, because the customer will start off uninterested in you.”

Marketers must ensure value and customer-centricity are the prominent focus within their communication. “You should have virtue and value,” Paul says. “What’s good about the product and what’s the value it delivers? You’re also going to have a credibility and credential proposition on why you should buy.”

This is not a one-size-fits all affair. Your company could have a brand proposition, a product proposition and a unique proposition. Of course all of these should answer the questions above but that doesn’t mean they’ll be exactly the same. “There’s lots of elements of proposition. Talk about the difference between your brand proposition and product proposition. Ask if they override or complement each other,” Paul advises.

It's essential businesses can define and confidently understand what to include in a proposition. If they don’t, it can become difficult to articulate and for prospects to understand, particularly when it comes to personalised strategies such as account-based marketing.

“You’ve got to create a proposition that doesn’t just mean something to the organisation you’re selling, but also the person you’re targeting and the multiple people you want to engage with. That proposition might therefore change,” explains Paul.

Join Paul's proposition writing masterclass

Are you ready to fine tune your propositions to really get through to your audience?

Join Paul, in August or November, where he'll guide you and fellow marketers through a full day of learning.

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