Value Proposition: The key to improving agency and vendor performance


“Marketing is the ultimate custodian of the value proposition.” Dig it, doc… but what about those pesky consultants? #webclinic

@aaron_bolshaw Tweeted this question through #webclinic during last week’s Web clinic.

I quickly Tweeted back…

As someone who has been a consultant I can say a mktg org w/ a well-defined value prop is much easier to work w/ #webclinic

And that’s how Twitter works. I made what Malcolm Gladwell would call a “blink” decision. It wasn’t until I was driving home that night that I realized just how profound Aaron’s Tweet was.

The value prop is the glue that holds your company’s partnerships together

Core competencies. That is the sole focus of the modern company. If the function is not central to the way your company works, outsource it. This is the reason for the relationship with your advertising agency.

And the business ideology that spurred the explosive growth of, for example, Foxconn – a company with $110 billion in revenue, more than 920,000 employees, and its own “manufacturing city” in China. You many have never heard of Foxconn, but if you’re reading this on a Dell computer or an Apple iPad while receiving a call on your Nokia phone, you are, in essence, a customer.

And your company likely has many similar partnerships. So how do you herd these cats and focus them on your company’s, and therefore your customer’s success?

As I was driving home after the Web clinic, I was listening to “Drucker’s Contributions to Marketing” which I downloaded from iTunes U (on my iPod…thanks, Foxconn).

I had an epiphany and realized how important Aaron’s statement was. Wharton professor George S. Day was talking about this challenge that companies have with outsourcing, and said (I edited slightly for clarity)…

“How about in a really abundant environment with a networked organization? You’ve got lots and lots of partners. What’s Marketing’s job then? Coordinate.

Someone has to keep the focus on the value proposition. Otherwise the partners will go off and do their own thing. How does Apple keep its tens of thousands of development and distribution partners coordinated? They have a very aggressive posture on what the value proposition is.

So Marketing as coordinator is a pretty good way of capturing that.”

How to optimize the performance of your agencies and vendors

Here are a few steps to take to serve as that coordinator, and improve the performance of your partners, agencies, and vendors…and with it, your own company’s performance.

1. Discover your value – You might think, breathe, and dream about how wonderful your company is every day, but your customers do not. Or, as Peter Drucker put it, “For the patient, the hospital is ‘real’ only while he stays there. His greatest desire is to go back to the ‘non-hospital’ world as fast as possible.”This means, your conception of why your company is valuable to customers is likely highly skewed. So take the time to listen to your customers to discover what value your company and its products offer, as opposed to dictating that value. One way to do that is by using social media.

2. Express your value proposition – Simply put, write it down. Take all those nuggets you’ve discovered, and create some clear and succinct statements that you can share throughout your organizations and with your partners (this Value Proposition Worksheet may help). But before you release it…

3. Test your value proposition –Now that you have a firm idea about why you think customers find your company and its services valuable, it’s time to really know by using real-world testing based on customer actions, not just opinions. One way to do that is by using PPC ads.

4. Disseminate that value proposition – By this point you should have a nice, clean value proposition. Something any vendor, agency, or partner can read and instantly understand the value you provide to your customers. Now you must constantly communicate it – throughout your own organization and then out to your company’s partners. Include it everywhere you can – on your intranet, in your breakroom, heck, even in your email signature.But, most importantly, make sure that everyone who touches a partner is consistently using it as well. It’s not enough to let everyone read it once and forget about it. Have them:

  • Include it in every creative and campaign brief that is sent to your advertising agency
  • Begin every meeting with a vendor’s sales rep by explaining it to the rep so they build a solution with your value prop in mind
  • Have it translated and plastered all over the walls of your factory in China
  • Have some fun…write a cheer

Related Resources:

MarketingExperiments’ Value Proposition Worksheet

Marketing Career: Why a value proposition makes marketing “good”

Landing Page Test: Why less equaled (54%) more when reducing friction and highlighting value proposition

B2B Marketing: You don’t have to be CEO to move the needle with a value proposition

B2B Marketing: Value proposition discussion with Dr. Flint McGlaughlin


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1 Comment
  1. Mark says

    Loads of info…It is really helpful thax

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