In the last decade, the way business is carried out has changed significantly. There are newer means of communication with which people interact as well as work. Technology has brought a great revolution in the lives of employees and how business is done.
Customers have changed and evolved too. They are more informed and literate about the products and services they are prone to consume. The information is ready and accessible. No asymmetry is found in the market, and most businesses have created Mixes that serve a wide range of customers; from individuals, moving to small and medium enterprises (SME) to large corporations.
In order to captivate these new prospective audiences and convert them into customers, businesses need to strategize around the way they create value; how they solve the customer’s pain points. Marketing is not enough anymore, businesses need to create compelling value propositions, target their offering adequately and improve their customer’s life with a meaningful product and service. This is the only formula for success in the modern business ecosystem.
But if businesses already know this fact, and they create great and unique value propositions, why is it that they do not excel? The answers are multiple; owners and executives may require to review their Business Model and understand which area is not working appropriately. But one of the major factors that impact businesses if the failure to adequately communicate their value proposition in a concise, compelling and clear fashion. Forbes explains that 8 out of 10 business that fails suffer from this factor. This means that businesses are failing even before the delivery of their value proposition.
In this article we will review some simple corrections businesses of all sizes can work on, in order to communicate their value proposition in a way that engages their prospects and convert them into customers. To help us in this task, we received assistance from our friends of SlideModel, a startup focused on helping professionals communicate better through the use of PowerPoint templates. They work closely with sales representatives and entrepreneurs around the world and know by first hand, which are the most common fails in their value proposition pitches.
FACT # 1 – Communicate Better
Well, the suspicious reader might think this statement is kind of obvious, but it will get surprised how often entrepreneurs and sales representatives fail to communicate adequately. Before communicating, in any channel, just review this list:
- Clearness: Make sure that your communication is clear for your customers; state clearly the value your product/service brings to the table.
- Conciseness: Do not mumble; use simple words and short sentences that everyone can understand.
- Compelling: Use the words that will lead your prospect into action.
FACT #2 – Describe your Power Positions
Several organizations develop their value proposition under the umbrella of consultations or by the book examples. This has generated tons of value propositions described with the same copycat formula: Our <product/services> is a <product pitch> that helps <target audience> to <do something> to solve <their pain> with the <differentiator>.
Another approach consists of the targeted value proposition description, describing the value for each Persona. Considering that Persona analysis is a complex approach that requires tons of effort and an established audience, the process ends up being a demographic description, a superficial profiling approach.
Finally, you find the value propositions which are a compound of buzzwords ordered in sentences and paragraphs. Not value described at all.
This results in a non resonating message; all value propositions look the same.
In order to describe a value proposition, in a way that expresses its value to an audience, it is needed a thorough analysis of the three main factors of the market: competition, prospects and the business under analysis. With the qualitative data in hand, define the intersections of value offerings and value needs. This will show two main subsets, the Parity set and the Wedge set.
The Parity set consists of the intersection between the analyzed business and its competitors. this value factors should not be stressed. The emphasis of your value proposition description should focus on what the business can do for the prospect differently from what the competition can do. This is the Wedge set – this is where you find your power positions.
FACT #3 – Explain the Proposition in Terms of Quantitative Value
Another obvious statement that has shown several real life examples of failure. The value proposition needs to explain why the problem it solves is worth to be solved. The reader can spot that this sentence describes a quantitative approach, differently from the previous facts that are qualitative. The value proposition needs to state a quantitative measure for the gain/pain ratio.
The following list describes four quantitative problems approach every value proposition should be answering.
- Is the problem subject to something not working? Does the solution proposed fix something that is broken? (like an operative process or a piece of machinery). Are there real measurable impacts of inaction? Like less production, more defects, more downtime, etc. Calculate the value, explain it within your wedge and target the person/ons directly affected in economic terms, if the issue is not resolved.
- The problem is imposed and cannot be avoided? This scenario is generally related to regulatory control and governance. The value can be expressed through the implications stated under the regulations of non-compliance. Non-compliance will lead the inability to sell, operate and even hire. All these are clearly quantitative indicators.
- Is the problem urgent? Does the solution involve top few priorities of the industry or particular business ? Describe your value in terms of the quantitative performance indicator defined for the strategic goals the prospect needs to achieve.
- The problems has not solution? This scenario is more common that it might be though. There are several problems in every industry that do not have a solution yet. If your proposition has a solution to a non resolved problem, just acquaint quantitatively for the benefit of solving the problem in the bottom line.
FACT #4 – Engineer and Design the Value Proposition
Most businesses take for granted that the value proposition is a result of the crafting of a product and service. They invest their resources in product development and marketing instead of using this resources in the value proposition itself, prior a product/service even exists. The concepts of Value Proposition Designs and Engineering had evolved from the modern management studies over this issue. The popular lean startup methodology and the business model generation approach are leading the change from product development focused companies into value proposition development companies.
This changes also impacts how businesses communicate their value proposition; most of the information applied in value proposition communication is gathered in the process of creation. If the business does not Design a value proposition, the communication message will not include the reasoning behind it and the message will fall short.
Apply the modern Value Proposition Design concepts within the management practices, with the usage of the Value Proposition Canvas. The framework will generate information based on the pillars of value proposition:
- Gain Creators
- Pain Relievers
Using the findings of the value proposition design, the communication will be straightforward and compelling.
FACT #5 Establish a Buying Vision
Entrepreneurs and sales representatives that dominate the communication practices mentioned, increase significantly their chances of success (measured in sales or investment). But even mastering the four facts described, there are some scenarios where the value proposition message can still fail.
Be it for sales, or any other activity that requires convincing people to take action, psychology plays an important role within the captivating process. The value proposition itself and its measurable factors may not change someone’s behavior. Most prospects are not ready to hear a value proposition in the first place, not only because of trust from the interlocutor (why you?) but also because of the inherent resistance of change.
Said this, every value proposition message should be preceded of a clear statement of why to change?. Only after the prospects realizes it needs to do something different of that it will lead to the why you? explanation and open the door for the value proposition message.
Most Businesses struggle to communicate adequately their value proposition; does not matter the channel used, the message has its own problems. In this article, we reviewed five facts behind the process of crafting an effective value proposition message. This list is not intended to be complete, and it might cover only a subset of the problems of the value proposition communication; what we can guarantee is that the solutions described can help increase the chances of success, as they were tested in the field by real consultants.
Hope you have enjoyed the content and we are open to comments. We expect to have a quality conversation over this facts.