A value or selling proposition, simply put, is a statement of several sentences that clearly states what your company offers its customers and how you are different from your competitors. Sounds easy, right? As with most marketing initiatives, what seems as if it should be simple really has a lot of back-story in terms of coming to certain insights and conclusions. A good value proposition will always be the result of an information gathering process about your industry, your customers, your competitors, your own company, and finally – your commitment to investing in making that proposition or offer a reality. A good value proposition isn’t just words – it’s a promise with legs.
Since the idea of a value proposition has come into the marketing vernacular, there have been many agencies and consultants that have made quite a nice living by making this process much more complicated than it needs to be, particularly in the industrial arena. Industrial companies don’t have a prospect pool of millions or billions of people. Their target customer base is much more narrow and focused. It is not necessary to spend tens of thousands of dollars on focus groups, surveys, or research.
Most established industrial companies already have all the knowledge they need to craft a value proposition in the heads of their key employees. Assemble a value proposition (VP) team; carve out half a day; find a location free of distractions; take cell phones at the door; and lock the team in until you’ve documented all the information you need. You decide who has the most knowledge about the following areas, and then bring them together, ready to be frank and objective.
1) Your customers
Profiles of typical customers and market segments
Objectives and needs specific to each customer segment
2) Your competitors
What are their weaknesses and strengths?
How are they attempting to position themselves?
What is the perception of them Competitive Industries within your customer base?
3) Your own company
Short and long term goals
Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats
Primary features and benefits of your products and services
In bringing together your VP Team, it’s obvious to include your top sales and marketing Invest In African Small Business people, especially ones in the front lines. In addition, don’t forget to include:
One or two old timers, no matter what position they currently hold – they’ll have a wealth of knowledge about the evolution of your company and its competitors.
Someone from inside sales, or customer service – they may not get the first hand exposure to customers and competitors that the outside sales staff does, but they probably get more honest feed-back from customers. It’s a lot easier to complain over the phone than it is looking someone eye to eye.
One person from production and one person from engineering – their insights regarding your company’s manufacturing and innovative capabilities will round out your SWOT analysis.
Your CFO, or another high level accounting exec. – goals are only good if they are attainable. Being realistic about your company’s current and future assets and your ability to acquire additional capital may affect your goals.
Your CEO, President or the owner of the company – a value proposition and subsequent branding strategy has to be endorsed and driven from the top down. If the captain of the ship disagrees about its direction, you’ll wind up in a Bermuda triangle of corporate miscalculations and wasted efforts.
Schedule a date and find your meeting location. Next you’ll need to create a presentation to lead your VP Team through the discovery process. Make sure you have a flip chart or some other way you can make all the key points of your discussion visible to everyone in the group during your session so you can refer back to them. Next post I’ll outline the actual discovery process that will provide you with the information you need to write your value proposition.