It’s Late: Do You Know Where Your Value Proposition Is?
A New Way of Thinking about Value Propositions
Here’s a value proposition found on San Francisco’s Craigslist “Personals” section, entitled “The Girl You Marry”:
Think librarian, beautiful but demure, 5’5″, slender, sexy, sharp as a tack and successful, but with a soft side, too. Nurturing but independent. Feminine but one of the guys at times. Former tomboy. Write me, but only if you have substance and only if you are real.
Nearly everything we say or write contains one value proposition or more, including personals ads like the example above, resumes, and cover letters—even the clothes we wear.
Moreover, while the value proposition is one of the most pivotal tools in the marketer’s bag of tricks, it’s also one of the most neglected. The “value prop”—defined as a statement of who the target market for a particular product is, what key benefits the product will deliver, and the price that will be charged—is a clear statement that identifies value: value customers want, and value you can deliver.
The “value prop” needs constant attention because the marketplace never stops changing, morphing, and dynamically evolving. So, to leave your value propositions unattended, even for a short time, can erase their relevance.
As we know, the appeal of the value proposition must be tuned to a particular customer or audience needs. However, as we also know, those needs change. When there’s a disconnect between demand and the value proposition, relationships can be harmed.
What about the personal ad above? This person may assert she’s “the girl you marry,” but is her value proposition convincing enough to make you respond to her pitch? To be appealing to a broad range of potential suitors, the value propositions in the ad conflict. Which is she? Nurturing or independent? Feminine or “one of the guys?” The strong and positive points she made about herself are offset by the strong, but opposite, points. In this case, clarity is lost, and the reader may end up confused.
In any event, the value proposition must be supported by clear communication. Humans are dichotomous and complex, but when it comes to marketing and value propositions, you have to take into consideration human limitations. If the receipt and processing of the value proposition’s message requires too much work, or if the message has become irrelevant, nothing will happen.
The following are some ideas about keeping your value propositions relevant:
- Know your customers. You must know your customers better than your competition and find out what’s important to people. Discover and leverage their real and emotional needs. Understand that the environment is dynamic, and that needs change rapidly. Tool up to track those changes.
- Fit the value proposition(s). Based on customer knowledge, create clear, concise, and relevant value statements fitted directly to specific needs. Positioning and communication are the drivers here.
- Monitor the marketplace. Look for opportunities for new value propositions via early warning techniques and continuous scanning of the market. This will also tell you when existing value propositions are losing impact and wearing out.
- Build products and services. These should address evolving needs. Address new consumer problems with unique value propositions either in the form of new products or services or new benefits for existing products.
- Review pricing. Be sure prices are in balance with the value being offered. If the gap between perceived value and price widens too far, sales will falter. A permanently reduced pricing level in a value-added category signals customers are just buying “value,” not “value-added.”
Whenever you’re trying to market a product, even if the “product” is you, be clear on a few things: whom you’re targeting, what they want, and the value you provide that fits those wants. Then, craft a clear “value prop” that hits the target, and keep making changes to keep pace with your changing audience. That way, even if it’s late, you’ll know where your value proposition is.