To begin this third installment of our brief series on the development of value propositions, let’s briefly review. Firstly, we’ve been discussing a value proposition focused on acquiring new customers, not one for other constituency groups. Your value proposition should be realistic and you must be able to deliver on its promises. In order to start the process of developing a true value proposition, you must begin with objectivity, and it can be helpful to receive input from others outside of your organization. It is important to clearly contrast your offer from competitors’ offers. From there, take what you have and begin to refine it with the goal of boiling it down to single statement, clear and concise.
Once you have your value proposition set, it is time to test it. The ideal way is to get feedback from your customers in order to determine whether you are measuring up to your promises. There are a variety of ways to request and receive this feedback. The important thing is to make sure that you are getting an honest assessment of two things. First, how are you performing for your customers? Does your performance measure up to your value proposition? Secondly, is this what truly matters to your customers? Your value proposition must propose something of actual value, otherwise it becomes a misnomer. Because you may discover other things which your customers find more valuable, you will likely make changes to your value proposition throughout the testing phase.
You may be thinking, “Isn’t this what we were doing during the testing phase? Weren’t we proving to our customers that we will live up to the value proposition?” Well, yes. What I mean here is to prove to your potential customers who are reading your value proposition for the first time that you will live up to it. This is where you allow your current customers to do the talking for you through testimonials. Few things are more compelling for prospective customers than reading genuine praise for your company from individuals just like them. How can you include customer testimonials into your value proposition? Clearly you cannot include a three or four sentence verbatim testimonial, but there are ways to allude to your customers’ appreciation within the testimonial. For example, “Our clients appreciate that our prices are 20% lower, while our product lasts 70% longer than our competitors,” or “4 out of 5 customers say our sushi is the best they’ve ever tasted!”
Exceptions to every rule
This section exists in part to be interesting and in part as a bit of caution. Let’s do a little mix and match game with a few value propositions with which you may be familiar.
____ Everyday low prices 1. BMW
____ The ultimate driving machine 2. Lending Tree
____ When banks compete, you win 3. Walmart
Okay, these are more like slogans than genuine value propositions. For these brands which are so immediately recognizable, these slogans work. However, imagine that you have never heard of Walmart. If you read, “Everyday low prices,” you will think, “Great – low prices on what?” The point is not to fall into the trap of using a cute catchphrase as your value proposition. While it may work on occasion, more often than not when a prospective customer is trying to compare your company to others in order to determine which is going to best meet his or her needs, expectations, etc… that customer wants to hear you tell them exactly what you can provide which is better than those competitors.
We hope that this series has been helpful to you in establishing the importance of value propositions to the branding process. When undertaking a marketing effort such as this, don’t be afraid to seek help, research and seek out as many resources as possible, and most of all, don’t be discouraged by some trial and error. Once you have completed the process, developed a stellar value proposition, and begin to see it working for you, it will all have been worth it. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any feedback and/or questions!