Value proposition

Have you ever felt your customers couldn’t care less about what you were selling? I did; and I learnt a critical lesson in selling.

I learnt the hard way that customers didn’t care if my product or service was technically superior to or outright cheaper than anything else in the market. They didn’t care if 99% of my customers thought what I offered was the greatest thing on this planet.

They didn’t care if my organisation had been in business for the last 100 years or more. They didn’t care if my product had the Government’s seal of approval or not. They didn’t care if I was the world’s foremost authority in whatever I was producing or marketing.

My customers cared about what my product or service could or would do for them! They cared about how my product or service could or would make them better and smarter, how it would ease their lives, how it would bring them happiness and joy.

Customers, like the rest of us, want to be beautiful, healthy, rich and happy. They want to be better at their jobs and look good in the eyes of others. They want more business, a quicker turnaround, reduced costs. They want things which improve their work and their lives.

In short, customers don’t want a product or a service. They want a solution to their problems. They want their wishes to be fulfilled. They want us to add value to their lives.

To capture our customers’ attention, minds and hearts, we need a ‘value’ proposition for whatever we are offering to them. A proposition that touches our customers emotionally and psychologically.

A value proposition is a concise statement of the outcomes a customer gets from using our product or service. It’s all about the customer – not about our offering.

Do Read: Curiosity

Our value proposition is the necessary foundation of our sales, marketing and communication efforts. Being able to clearly articulate it is an absolute business imperative. Yet, most of us and the organisations we represent find it difficult to articulate our value proposition. I’ve got it wrong many times.

For my own understanding, I’ve simplified the process of finding a value proposition in my own way. But, I must state upfront that this is a rational approach which tries to find and articulate rational and measurable benefits. Emotional and psychological benefits are particularly difficult to articulate.

So, I’m talking to myself here. The process that works for me goes something like this:

There are multiple value propositions in every product and service we sell. We need to know them all.

When we research a targeted group of customers, we select one or more value propositions from our collection based on what we discover from – and about – the lives or businesses of our targeted customers.

We state our value proposition as a clear – maybe a unique – benefit to our customers.

The value proposition addresses key issues faced by our customers and defines what happens – i.e. what rational and emotional benefits accrue – when our customers use our product or service. Sometimes, numbers, like percentages and timeframes, help in defining these benefits in rational terms.

Emotional and psychological benefits or outcomes are difficult to articulate. How do we articulate value propositions of happiness, joy, pride, freedom or a sense of achievement?

We need to remember it’s not about us. It’s about the positive impact our product or service has on our customers and their lives or businesses.

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