If you’ve read MarketingExperiments for any length of time or taken classes from our parent research organization, MECLABS Institute, you know that identifying and clearly communicating an effective value proposition can lead to significant business success.
But it is a complex topic. So much so that we teach an entire master’s-level course about it — MMC 5435: Messaging Strategy & the Centrality of the Value Proposition — in the University of Florida / MECLABS Institute Communicating Value and Web Conversion graduate certificate program.
So when my colleague Steve Stone whipped out a simple Excel tool he created in an internal meeting in which we were working on a value proposition, I thought MarketingExperiments blog readers might find it helpful — a small piece to help your team collaborate on discovering your company’s value proposition and include feedback from all internal, agency, vendor and partner stakeholders in an easy and systematic way.
“Within any organization, if a core team can spend the time to properly complete this simple template, it will be used by people in the entire organization. Whether to build the rationale for funding business cases, creating copy for emails or websites, or training sales reps on how to convert customers, these insights will prove invaluable for companies looking to scale and stay ahead of the competition,” Stone said.
Just click on the link below to download. No email address form fill required.
Here’s a quick tutorial for using the tool:
Step #1: List value proposition statements
Brainstorm with your team and list all of the value proposition statements you can come up with. Think broad when you decide who that team should be. As I mentioned, it can be your marketing and advertising agency vendor ecosystem.
But include others in the meeting as well who are not only part of your value messaging (i.e., marketing), but part of your value delivery and value chain as well. So perhaps product development, suppliers, service and installation partners, customer service, logistics, product fulfillment, and even HR and finance.
This is the “no idea is a bad idea” phase of exploration.
The question you want to answer will depend on the level of value proposition you are creating, but essentially these statements should help your ideal customer want to choose your product or service instead of the competition.
You can do this together as a group, or have a facilitator collate responses your team shares through email.
Step #2: Rank value proposition claims
At this point, you should have a veritable smorgasbord of possible value proposition claims. But much like a Las Vegas buffet, there are likely as many hits as misses, and you want to separate the surprisingly yummy salad fixings from the sketchy shrimp that will give you food poisoning.
So add all of the value claims into the second Excel worksheet tab. And then have each team member rank the claim in terms of appeal and exclusivity. We rank each element from 1 to 5, allowing increments of 0.5 (such as 3.5 or 2.5), but there is no hard-and-fast rule so use whatever scale works best for your company, as long as it is consistent. (I tease Austin McCraw, who runs many value proposition workshops, that allowing 0.5 increments really means it’s a 1-10 scale. His smart retort, “Yeah, but if I let them go 1 to 10, they’d still throw in the halves, and we’d end up with a 20-point scale.”)
The appeal and exclusivity number will add up to an overall score for each claim from each person, and then the tool will automatically average across each team member for you. You can then sort from the most to least forceful value claims using the multiplier column (the first column).
You’ll find that many of the value claims your team came up with are likely related (unless your team or vendors are on very different pages, which it will be good to discover), so you can use the color coding to place the statements into value buckets, and then you can decide on the best messaging for each value bucket.
You can use the columns on the right to jot down the qualitative and quantitative statements that come up in your healthy debate about the value claims. These statements can ultimately be used as value proposition evidentials and power your messaging and copy.
Step #3: Notes
Hopefully the value proposition claim ranking resulted in a meeting that sparked a lively debate. Include notes from that meeting about new value proposition and value messaging insights in this tab.
The value proposition, along with this very process, should get your entire value delivery ecosystem — from product managers to suppliers to channel partners to PR, advertising, Web and design agencies — on the same page about the value your company delivers to customers as a way to differentiate your brand in the marketplace as well as make sure that value is actually being delivered by your company.
You can follow Daniel Burstein, Senior Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS Institute, on Twitter @DanielBurstein.