The de-Value Proposition

#De-Value Proposition

We often hear that if you haven’t said ‘no’ to something then you haven’t got a strategy.

I believe this to be true. I also think this same thinking applies rather well to value propositions.

If you haven’t got one— or if yours is vanilla or trying to be all things to all people - you have created a value proposition and the impact is likely to be — at best — fuzziness about why we would pick you and, at worst, an inability to attract the people you are there to serve; eroding value through lack of clarity or lustre.

My days are spent harnessing inventive thinking to enhance processes, productivity, designed solutions, strategy and marketing. Marketing is a vast play area. Everyone has their special space. The marketing sandpit where I have the most fun (and one of the more effective spades) is when I’m helping organisations answer the question: “So what?”; getting them past what they (the so-called ‘sausage’) to people would care (its ‘sizzle’).

This is the value proposition. Put simply, it should say very clearly why I should should pick you— and not someone else.

Good value propositions are:

  • Targeted — naming the people you seek to serve (often an umbrella version and then others per market you serve with distinct proof points);
  • Unique. Differentiating — others may be able to say the same but they aren’t
  • Credible — grounded in objective attributes about your offer
  • Strategically aligned — in sync with your group/organisation and other claims
  • Emotive — make me care if you can!
  • and, of course, Customer centric so that I might actually pay a premium for it.

Value proposition (VP) work is about making sense of what you do, who you are trying to serve (who for?), pain & gains (enter: Strategyzer’s Value Proposition canvas), what they are currently doing about it and how it differs from the competition.

It should be relatively straightforward. Indeed you’d think most organisations would have this nailed. But they don’t. It’s hard to see the picture when you are inside the frame.

So, because it’s tricky, you tend to see:

  • Non-existant VPs: There just ain’t one;
  • VP misnomers: Businesses who think they have a value proposition but they are actually answering a different question such as ‘What do we do?’ (back to the sausage) or ‘why?’ (’cause Sinek said start there ;-)).
  • Tepid VPs— where they describe what they do — not what’s in it for the customer (the ‘WIIFM’);
  • Flawed VPs — where they miss the plot entirely and highlight something that is not perceived as of value.

All four are -value propositions for the business.

The funny thing about value proposition work is that when you get it right, the team involved sits up straighter. Literally. If it resonates, it makes them proud (like a strong purpose, by the way).

Or Uber — yeh — I know — they get way too much attention but this gives a value that targets most potential passengers coupled with three strong proof points that immediately highlight the flaws in alternatives:

Or the iPhone:

(iPhone ad)

Often — the really good ones — can be reduced down to a powerful tagline: Take the Melbourne-based visa agency, Absolute Immigration who promises to make it all about human beings and not admin with

The other thing about this space is that once you land on something that makes sense (and check it with the customer), you can then do an integrity check with the answers to other key questions in your business:

So what? for your Employees (your Employee VP or ‘EVP’)
Why? (your purpose)
How? (your values)
Where to? (your vision)
What do I stand for? (thought leadership)
Who am I? (brand)

A de-value proposition is a missed opportunity. It’s leaving stuff on the table when you could make sense of your business inside and out. Take the time to get it right and sync it with other important questions about your business. It will serve to attract clients but it can also align and inspire your people.

And you know how it works: if you don’t fill the gap, others will do it for you…

#de-valueproposition #sowhat? #dontbevanilla

Bias and blindspot buster.

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