By: Gordon Conner
Does your business have a value proposition? You should! All businesses should. If you don’t, you should be working on it right now! And even if you have one, you need to review it every 6 to 12 months. Do you think your products or services define your proposition? Well, sort of. But that’s not the whole story.
If your value proposition doesn’t answer a need in the marketplace, it’s meaningless. Also your proposition has to answer that need at a price that is acceptable. Finally, it must be sufficiently different from the competition to cause the market to stand up and take notice. Make them say “oh, really?
So, to get a value proposition that will do all of that, where do you start?
Rub Shoulders With Your Market
The first thing you need to do is get inside your potential client’s head. You can do that with research and surveys, but also by simply talking with them. The problem is, do you really know who these potential clients are? Here’s what you should be asking:
- Male or female?
- Age range?
- Income per year?
- Where do they live and work?
- Where do they shop?
- Reading habits – magazines, newspapers, blogs or social media?
- Clubs or associations?
- What concerns and issues do they struggle with?
Before you open the doors of your business, this research should be done to expose any market gaps that you can exploit. Are there any prospects that are underserved or dissatisfied with the current market’s products or services?
A lot of businesses begin by crafting a solution and then finding a market for that solution. But, if you researched the market first and found a problem that is starving for a solution and develop a solution to solve it, the chances of your success are greatly increased.
So, if you can provide that solution with a profitable business model, you have the formula for a prosperous business.
Does It Hurt?
Your potential clients are walking around all day with things on their mind. And they have problems that they want solved so that they don’t have to worry about it any more. Most of these issues have a pain component. Your goal should be to provide the solution to their problems and relieve that pain.
In order to find the right solutions for these pains requires that you listen very carefully to what these potential clients tell you during research and questioning. Their pain can run the gamut from social concerns, physical appearance, reputation or how to save money or pay their bills.
For example, you might find that your ideal client is very active in social media and desires to improve their authority and credibility. You can relieve this pain. They know they need great content consistently for their followers. For them to find quality, unique content is hard for them and is the source of their pain.
If you could step in and provide this content for them, their problem may be solved and their pain eliminated. Just like adding ointment for a burn, your service will be most welcome.
Your Prescription for The Pain
We all have basic needs that require attention in order to be happy. Your value proposition should address these needs:
- Security or safety
- Feel competent or confident in what they do
- Close relationships
Your value proposition must also deliver at least one benefit, such as:
- Save time
- Save money or make money
- Make them look or feel good
- Improve their social standing
- Improve their health
If you meet and satisfy the basic needs you will be addressing their pain, and the benefits will deliver the gain. Do this right and you’ll be well ahead of your competition, because they simply focus on features and themselves!
You’ve Added Value
If you have identified a need in the marketplace, you went through these steps:
- Researched your market
- Developed a solution to your market’s needs
- Made sure that your product or service satisfies their ‘pains’
- Provide benefits that provide a ‘gain’
- Priced your solution at an acceptable level
- Chose a business model that is profitable and scalable
Your value proposition has to be viewed by your clients as representing value. And people see value in different ways. If your target market perceives your value proposition as meeting and exceeding their needs (pains), and improving their lives, you’ve added value.
So, What’s The Difference?
OK, we’ve been talking about value propositions. But to really stand out in the marketplace, you need to add one more important facet to your value proposition. You have to be unique, different and stand out.
And this is where so many entrepreneurs bite the dust. They drop the ball by not taking the extra step to craft a value proposition with strong differentiating benefits. You can do this through what you have to offer, like:
- Guarantees that no one else provides, which cuts down on the customer’s risk
- Biggest range of products or services
- Colors and name brands not available anywhere else
- Having more experience than anyone in the industry
- Offering proprietary software and systems
- Having unique methodologies
- Trademarked or patented designs
- Offering the speediest delivery
Many copycat businesses offer the same products and services as all of their competitors, without any differences. This just confuses the customer and puts those companies in a commodity category where price is the only differentiator.
Don’t be a commodity. Offer a unique value proposition that stands out, so that you won’t have to compete on price alone.
About the Author
Gordon Conner is President and Founder of BranWorks, a branding consultancy in Midlothian, Va. BranWorks has been providing marketing and branding services for 39 years and is a specialist in “Category of One” and “TouchPoint” branding. He can be reached at http://www.BranWorks.com, or email at Gordon@BranWorks.com.