Strategic Planning

How to Choose a Value Proposition

How to Choose a Value PropositionWhat sets your product, service and company apart from your competitors?  What value do you provide and how is it different than the alternatives?

Your value proposition is the foundation of your entire business and the offers you take to market.  When your market clearly recognizes (and appreciates!) the value you provide, it’s easier to generate new prospects and guide them to buy.

Now … what if you don’t have a clear value proposition?  Well, it takes more time and money to show prospects why they should choose you.  And as a result, you often end up competing on price – a tough position to sustain over the long term.

So how do you define a value proposition?  First, there are three essential types methods for delivering value to your customers:

  1. Operational excellence
  2. Product leadership
  3. Customer intimacy

But don’t just randomly choose a value proposition.  Your company’s mission, processes and team need to be completely aligned to deliver on this value – and each value prop means something different for your organization.  After all, you can’t just say it … you have to DO it, and that makes it easier to win in the market.

3 Types of Value Propositions

Which of these scenarios best describes your company and offerings?

Operational excellence

  • Your customers just want a good product at the lowest possible price.  New bells and whistles aren’t particularly important – it’s price that counts.
  • You’re not trying to come up with new or better products; you just want to produce more volume at a lower cost.
  • You focus on creating operational efficiencies to keep your costs low.

Product leadership

  • Your customers care most about the product itself – they want the best.  Period.
  • Your team and company culture is completely dedicated to innovation and quality.
  • You’re constantly working on improvements and innovations that you can bring to market.
  • You know what your competitors are doing and are completely focused on staying one step ahead in order to capture a greater share of your market.

Customer intimacy

  • Your market is flooded with products or services like yours at all ends of the price spectrum.  But your customers want more than a standard product or program; they want customized solutions.
  • Your mission is to know as much as possible about your customers’ businesses and build successful relationships so you can deliver the correct products, services and/or solutions over time.
  • You know you can’t just say “We offer great service.”  Instead, your team just does it — in every interaction they have with prospects and customers.

Prioritize & Focus

As a company, you should be able to do one of these three things very well.  You can probably tack on a secondary value proposition and do it fairly well.  But it’s nearly impossible to do all three.

Once you’ve selected a primary and secondary value proposition, you can narrow in on a more specific benefits in your offerings – for example, a particular TYPE of product leadership or customer intimacy that fills a need in your market in a unique way.

As you’re going through this process, think impartially about the wants and needs of your customers and what your competition offers.  You may find an unmet need in the market, or you may realize that you need to find a better way to differentiate from your competitors.

As a result, you may decide to promote a different attribute of your product, or you may find entirely new opportunities to create new products and services.  Either way, you’ll strengthen your business in both the short and long term.

And what should you do after you’ve defined your value proposition?  Create a brand strategy to support it.  You can learn more about branding in these posts.  Or here’s a free marketing guidebook that covers competitive positioning, value propositions, branding and other marketing strategies & tactics.

If you have any questions, comments or examples, please share your thoughts in our comments section below.



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