As more and more of your competitors try to define the position of their brands in the marketplace, it’s starting to get a little crowded in the minds of customers. While a growing number of companies strive to tell consumers who they really are, only the businesses that can identify their true value will successfully engage their target audience. But it’s not easy.
For example, I still see a lot of folks who are looking for value in costs and pricing. Unfortunately, that definition of value is very limiting and, unfortunately, a little old-fashioned. Even the almighty Walmart is struggling to maintain its identity as “the cheapest,” while its online competitors continue to find new ways to wring profits out of wafer thin margins. In the end, too much focus on price is bad for everybody.
That’s why marketing professionals have worked so hard over the last decade to broaden the meaning of “value.” Outstanding service can add value, for instance. Expertise and experience can add value. A powerful brand can add value. Ask anybody who owns a Yeti cooler, and they will gladly tell you why its worth every penny (even though alternatives now exist that deliver similar performance at a lower cost).
So how do you define YOUR company’s unique value proposition? It takes effort, but it is worth it. I usually start with a classic SWOT analysis. The goal is to get to the bottom of the question, “What are we willing to do (or willing to avoid doing) in order to define our brand.” In our modern day world of industry-shaking disruptions and venture capitalists, ideas themselves have tangible value. Anybody who thinks that drone delivery is science fiction has not been paying attention. You may not be ready to employ flying delivery drivers, but challenging your own status quo is the key to developing your own innovations.
Another important step when you are developing a value proposition is understanding your customers. I like to get the sales team involved here, since they spend a lot of time with the folks your company serves. Start with their insights, then gather as much additional data about consumers as possible, and you can often identify what your customers find most important about your products or services. Don’t take this process for granted. You may think that you know your customers, but I am in a lot of meetings where we uncover hot buttons that provided an epiphany to managers and salespeople. Most banks were shocked the first time they learned that millennials actively avoid visiting branch offices, for instance.
In fact, customer input is so important that direct research can be very beneficial. When possible, I listen to customers directly, letting them define the value proposition themselves. If 7 out of 10 customers tell me that they frequent a client’s business because it offers no hassle returns, then that return policy might become the foundation for a value proposition.
It’s important to realize that the journey to an effective value proposition usually isn’t a quick trip. It can be a long journey, but it is definitely worth your time and effort. Once your customers and your employees understand what sets you apart, it’s easier to tell that story to the world. If you’d like learn more, give me a call. I’d love to hear your thoughts.