The next time your marketing team gets together for a meeting, take a look around the room. Then, imagine if your team lined up and every odd-numbered person was asked to step out and have a seat at a nearby table.
The idea is not that half your team has now become prime contestants for “The Hunger Games: Marketing Edition.” The goal of this exercise is to show some of what I recently learned from the MECLABS Value Proposition Development online course by placing a little visual emphasis on the findings in the chart below:
In the MarketingSherpa 2012 Website Optimization Benchmark Report (free excerpt at that link), when CMOs were asked, “Are you confident that each member of your marketing team can clearly and succinctly state your company or product value proposition?” nearly half of the survey’s respondents were not confident that each member of their marketing team could state their organization’s value proposition.
This data also suggests that if you’re not confident all of your team can effectively express your value proposition, then maybe you should take a moment and ask yourself …
“Can I clearly and succinctly state the core value proposition of my organization or the product that I am marketing?” (Take another moment to write down the answer to that question before reading further.)
If your value prop resembles any of the following:
- “We empower your software decisions.”
- “I don’t sell products and services; I sell results — my guarantee.”
- “We help people find their passion and purpose.”
- “We are the leading [insert your service here] provider.”
- “Get found online.”
- “This site has what the person is looking to find.”
Then you should know two things:
- Your value proposition is most likely underperforming and could be improved significantly.
- You are probably not alone (according to the 48% at least). Other members of your team are likely just as confused as you are when it comes to value proposition.
So today’s MarketingExperiments Blog post will hopefully demystify some of the confusion that surrounds value propositions, while also providing you with a few insights you can use to get started on crafting a stronger value proposition that you can put into your testing queue.
Insight #1: Define a value proposition on which everyone agrees
Defining and establishing your value proposition will be difficult until everyone is on the same page. And, to get on that same page, everyone has to understand what a value proposition is.
Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director, MECLABS, teaches that you must first find the answer to the question, “What is a value proposition?” before you can answer the question, “What is your value proposition?”
Flint explains further that the key to answering “What is a value proposition?” can be discovered by answering a much deeper question of “If I am your ideal prospect, why should I buy from you rather than any of your competitors?”
Insight #2: Learn to see through the eyes of your customers
Answering the value proposition question effectively starts from learning how to see your marketing through the eyes of your customers.
- You are fundamentally answering a first-person question posed in the mind of your customers. It always implies a “because” answer.
Flint explains that consumers are jaded and desensitized to hype, and they no longer respond to marketing that cannot effectively penetrate the question consumers now pose to all marketing, which is “So what?”
“Your value proposition has to cut through all that skepticism and give them an ultimate reason. And for that to happen, you as a marketer have to start to think through the eyes of the customer,” Flint said.
Insight #3: Not all customers are ideal prospects
- A value proposition focuses on a specific customer segment. This requires you to consider who you are going to serve and the associated tradeoffs.
Crafting an effective value proposition to appeal to your ideal prospect means that you will eliminate some prospects in order to better serve the segment of the marketplace in which your ideal customers exist.
Flint cautions that you can dilute the force of your value proposition by crafting a value proposition that is too generic in an attempt to serve too many customers who are not ideal.
“Part of what we are doing in our marketing is we’re trying to talk to too many people instead of the right people,” Flint said.
Insight #4: Answer “Why should I buy from you?”
- A value proposition is an ultimate reason – the reason why; it is the culmination of a careful argument
“Why should I buy from you?” This is where you make your argument that the ideal prospect should buy from you. Your answer should start with “because” and should be followed with evidentials that support your claim.
The culmination of answering with “because” and producing supporting evidentials is what Flint describes as “the combination that produces your argument.”
Insight #5: Does your answer include your “only factor”?
- A value proposition must differentiate you from your competitors. In at least one way, you must have an “only” factor.
Your value proposition must include one aspect that differentiates you from your competitors. This one singularity is your “only factor.” If your value proposition fails to do this, you are already at a disadvantage.
As Flint says, “It’s likely that your value proposition is already going to be underperforming because it is not forceful enough.”