I recently had a frightening conversation with a colleague of mine who was starting a new business. When he introduced me to his business idea, I thought he had a promising vision. With the right tools and strategies, he could build something truly successful. His problem – He had no value proposition built into his marketing strategy.
When I approached my colleague about including a value proposition, he responded with several reasons why that would simply be “impossible to develop, unnecessary for success, and off-putting for customers”. These arguments – or myths – that he shared with me are debilitating and need to be debunked. So let’s take a look at these ideas and uncover the truth about a value proposition.
Myth #1 – I Don’t Need a Value Proposition
FALSE! The truth is that you undoubtedly need to offer a value proposition to your customers. This truth is supported by the very definition of a value proposition – a clear statement that expresses why a company uniquely provides a specific innovation, service, or product. In other words, a value proposition tells your customers exactly why they should purchase their solution from you.
Without a value proposition, your customers will have to evaluate your services or products on price alone, and as the great marketers in history have pointed out time and time again: “There is always a competitor willing to go out of business first to undercut your prices.” If you don’t want to get in a price war, find your value proposition.
Myth #2 – My Brand Has No Unique Value
FALSE! Or at least it should be false. If your brand really has NO value that it offers, don’t worry. You’re either not looking hard enough or you can easily develop one. Value propositions don’t have to be the way your product revolutionizes humanity. It can be in the way it’s packaged, delivered, or it can be built by your brand itself.
Southwest Airlines is one of my favorite examples of this. Their service is literally to move people and luggage across the country on their aircrafts, but that is not their value proposition. That can be found in their mission statement – “dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit.” Their value proposition, providing the best customer service an airline can provide, has nothing to do with their 75-ton airplanes.
If you do not think you can build your value proposition out of your product or service, take a look at how you provide those products and services. Find something in the delivery that you are passionate about, be the best in that area of your delivery, and use that as your value proposition.
Myth #3 – My Value Proposition Should Come at the Expense of My Competitors
FALSE! You want to know one of the biggest turn-offs to customers? Constant “negative campaigning”. You’ve seen those commercials: “My competitors say they can offer this, but they can’t.” “You know that the competitor’s product is made of bad materials.” “The competitor makes dirty deals to get their sales.” What does negative campaigning do? At best, it encourages customers to not buy from the competitor. What it doesn’t do – encourage customers to buy from you.
Negative campaigning can have its place in certain markets and campaigns (if it is resolved with how you overcome that obstacle), but it never has a place in a value proposition. Your value proposition needs to build you up to your customers. Never, EVER, use your value proposition to highlight anything about your competitors – good or bad. It needs to focus solely on your brand.
Myth #4 – My Value Proposition Needs to Be Complex
FALSE! Your value proposition needs to be accurate and simple. Overcomplicating your value proposition can create 2 problems for you. First, it can become difficult for your customers to understand what the value proposition really is. Second, having a complicated value proposition can be very hard to deliver.
When creating your value proposition, you need to create something that is easy to understand and that you not only can deliver, but deliver better than anyone else. This could be something as simple as returning phone calls within 24 hours, following up with customers after a providing a service, always using local foods, etc. When it comes to your value proposition, consistency outweighs complexity.
Myth #5 – My Value Proposition Doesn’t HAVE to Reflect My Mission Statement
FALSE! In fact, I would argue that in almost every scenario, your Mission Statement should highlight your value proposition. Your Mission Statement sets the tone for how you run your business and what customers can expect from you, so your value proposition has no better place to reside than here.
Consider a portion of Apple’s Mission Statement – “Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software.” If I were to ask you what Apple’s value proposition, you would likely say something like, “They make computers and phones that… just work.” The best computers in the world? That’s up to opinion. What they have succeeded in is making extremely reliable hardware that has revolutionized the way we think about personal computers.
Your value proposition, in many ways, should directly reflect your Mission Statement. It highlights the greatness of your product and service while showcasing your business as the top provider of your solution.
It’s Time to Put Yourself on a Pedestal
I should note that, if you’re anything like I was when I started out, finding the value proposition can be difficult. You might not find it favorable to put yourself out there and talk about how great your business’s value proposition is. However, I can assure you, it’s one of the most important things you can do. Remember, if you aren’t willing to showcase what’s good about your brand, you can’t expect others to as well. It’s just good marketing.
You have created something special, and you want to share that with the world. Now, it’s time to put it on paper. Get out there and make your value proposition known. Show what you can do. Scream from the mountain tops why you’re the best at it. And position yourself higher than ever before in the minds of your customers by building your value proposition today!