I guess we should start with ‘what is a value proposition’. Good old Google says that a value proposition is
“(in marketing) an innovation, service, or feature intended to make a company or product attractive to customers.”
This definition is good, albeit limited and a bit old-fashioned. Wikipedia takes us further:
“A value proposition is a promise of value to be delivered, communicated, and acknowledged. It is also a belief from the customer about how value will be delivered, experienced and acquired. A value proposition can apply to an entire organization, or parts thereof, or customer accounts, or products or services.”
I like that ‘promise of value bit’. It is nearly as important as ‘belief from the customer’. And it tells us to expect value propositions in marketing.
The value proposition in marketing
You may have noticed that modern websites look very similar. They all have a beautiful ‘hero’ image, video or slideshow with a few words and buttons.
If you examine lots of websites – or take a shortcut and search for ‘best value propositions’ – you will see the words follow a pattern:
- A description of the customers’ need and how the website owner will meet it.
- A count of key features (inevitably three, the magic number) telling everyone that hitting ‘buy now’ will delight (deliver value).
- They tend to describe their unique benefits. In other words, telling prospective customers why they are better than their competitors or an alternative solution.
The buttons also follow a theme. Both are a ‘call to action’. Most commonly there is a ‘learn more’ button (learning is more value adding than reading) and a ‘buy now’ plea. Though, marketers are getting more imaginative and value driven with the button text…
What’s so good about a value proposition?
Typically, web-based value propositions are clear. They are in a language that appeals to us. They beat platitudes and taglines hands down. And they force businesses to explore the value they deliver. Because they are customer-facing, they are not the vision and mission statements of yore.
Don’t get me wrong. Vision and mission statements help define an organisation’s strategy and are invaluable internal tools. Providing you stay clear of the platitudes. But the value proposition (albeit in this narrow guise) forces us to focus on the customer and what they need.
Merely using a value proposition in your marketing will improve sales. So, you can stop here. But there is more to it, read on if you are interested – or should I say ‘continue to learn more’?
Other (equally important) uses of your value proposition
Your sales team can build the value proposition into their sales approach. From contacting leads to presenting a proposal, they can reiterate the value you bring.
The value proposition gives a clear, consistent basis for requirements in product/ service development. Not only will each ‘offer’ delight, but you will deliver a clear brand ethos.
And all the rest of us can use the value proposition to direct our activities. I don’t mean this to sound like a throw-away line. For me, it is essential for making your customer experience awesome.
So, who owns the value proposition?
No single department, function or, heaven forbid, person owns the value proposition. But someone has to be accountable for it. Depending on the size of your business that could be the owner/ founder or the board.
And then someone has to create and maintain it. That could still be the owner/ founder. In a larger organisation, it is likely to belong to either marketing or a product/ service team.
Continuing down the line of a RACI. The team or person creating the value proposition will achieve more by consulting current and potential customers and operational teams as they build, test and deliver it.
Internally, everyone needs to know the value proposition and understand how it applies to them. Externally, your customers have to believe in your value proposition before and after the sale.