Without Value, the “Company” has no Proposition
To get started, and your leaders aligned, here is a very brief overview of MECLABS Institute’s value proposition methodology. This methodology is based on a review of 1,100 articles, books and academic papers on competitive advantage, differentiation, unique selling points, and value proposition combined with almost 20 years of experimentation with brands’ real products and actual customers.
And, if you’re not aligned internally, how can your agency effectively communicate your company’s value prop? How can customers possibly understand it? So, write down your company’s value proposition. And then ask five people (colleagues, business leaders, vendors, partners) what they think your company’s value proposition is. If you’re not aligned, take heart, says the paper, many firms struggle to state their value proposition.
No business leader wants SEO, web design, or web development services, for example. They want a resulting experience. Economist Theodore Levitt famously said, “People don't want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole.” That’s where the real appeal lies. How do your services give them what is actually appealing? In this example, that might be more traffic, more leads, more sales, etc.
There is a spectrum of value exclusivity, says the report. On the left side are pure commodities like oil, gold, and silver. These purchase decisions are made solely on cost. On the right side are rare and custom products like luxury box seats at a playoff game, a painting by Pablo Picasso, or a custom home. Your company is somewhere between these extremes.
The less differentiation you offer, the lower your margins will be and the more you must compete on price. The more differentiation you offer, the higher your margins will be and the more you can compete on value. For example, Apple has more value exclusivity than Dell. Its products are also usually more expensive.
Do Your Ideal Customers Understand What You Are Actually Offering?
Ad creatives love a creative idea. But that creative idea cannot exist for creativity’s sake alone. The concept must serve the value proposition. Creativity, in advertising and marketing, exists to break through the clutter and give the ideal customer a clear understanding of the value prop. On the flip side, another impediment to clarity is what may be called blandvertising. There is copy, but it just washes over you without having any meaning.
Will Your Ideal Customers Believe Your Claims?
Every press release for a book is “best-selling.” There are no average-selling books apparently. Every golf course presented is a “championship” golf course. There is usually more than just one platform that claims to be the #1 platform for whatever it does. And every conference is the “leading” conference in that industry.
Sometimes marketing words have no power because they aren’t clear. But sometimes marketing copy isn’t forceful because the ideal customer simply doesn’t believe it. They have no reason to believe unless we communicate credible reasons for them to be as bought into the product as you are. Every business person and marketer should have passion and an abiding belief in their product. But the customers won’t believe you if you don’t give them a reason to.
MECLABS Institute brings key business decision makers into the same room in a value proposition workshop to get aligned on and answer essential questions. Then, their answers are scored rigorously to help identify potential value propositions that can be tested.
Concluding, the report says that “… at the end of the day, the big question you’re trying to answer is: If I am your ideal customer, why should I do business with your company instead of any of your competitors?”
When you are able to communicate a clear, appealing, exclusive, and credible answer to that question, you will improve margins, increase sales, and make sure everyone in your organization is on the same page to better serve customers, says the report.
Daniel Burstein is the Senior Director, Content and Marketing at MECLABS Institute. Daniel oversees all content and marketing coming from the MarketingExperiments and MarketingSherpa brands while helping to shape the marketing direction for MECLABS, digging for actionable discoveries while serving as an advocate for the audience.