I spend more time than is healthy in looking for, reading, and evaluating B2B value propositions. It is a bit of a strange occupation, but the attraction to it for me is the challenge in communicating the essence of an offer in a way that is clear, direct and simple to grasp. Achieving these three things is definitely not easy. But let’s face it – the more sophisticated (or jaded) the buyer, the harder it is to create a value proposition that is compelling enough to shift their attention to your offering instead of all the alternatives.
There is lots of advice, templates, ideas, examples and guidelines for how to create a truly compelling value proposition. So there is plenty of help out there. I recommend checking out Jill Konrath’s advice to get you pointed in the right direction. But even with lots of good resources to help you build one, why are so many value proposition statements weak? There is a common missing link in many of the ones I see. Ready to hear what it is?
The missing piece is RELEVENCE.
If you go back to the dictionary, (Miriam-Webster to be exact) the definition of relevance is “relation to the matter at hand” and ”the ability to retrieve material that satisfies the needs of the user.” While it may seem intuitive that a value proposition needs to be relevant, the fact is that there are many value propositions that aren’t. It is easier to see how relevance is important to a value proposition if you integrate the two definitions into one. Relevance is the relation to the matter at hand that satisfies the needs of the user. Following this definition, then relevance should really be all about the buyer – not the product, the company or the price. There’s the rub. Take a look at yours right now and ask yourself is this about the product or the buyer? Be honest now!
Factors That Determine Relevance
Factor One: Perspective
Who determines whether a value proposition is relevant or not? It isn’t your product manager or marketing manager. It has to be the buyer – and their perspective is the only one that matters. Understanding the perspective of key influencers doesn’t hurt either. But beware of trying to appeal to everyone. It has the potential to dilute the impact of the message to your target buyer. It is much too easy to speak from the product or company perspective. Hold the value prop up to a mirror to be sure the right face is reflected there.
Factor Two: Value
How is value determined and communicated? The buyer defines what is valuable to them, and it is best communicated in their language, rather than marketing or product speak. Many offerings are feature-overloaded in the misguided sense that more is better. No matter how many features you have, the best value propositions focus on communicating outcomes. Buyers are tuned into their own desired outcomes and matching that spells value to them instantly. Trying testing your value points before you officially launch your value prop.
Factor Three: Support
What are the back-up messages that will support value proposition? Being sure to include how you quantify the value is important in driving home a relevant message. Adding testimonials, industry awards, case studies and the like can be key in demonstrating the relevancy of your offer. Nothing drives a message home like quantification and proof.
Before you invest time and energy into developing a value proposition, ensure its impact by getting a handle on relevance first. You need to be able to filter all things you could possible say about your offering by just those that are directly relevant to the needs, goals or objectives of your target buyer.
Here’s a bonus for you to help you get your value proposition out there. Get a complimentary copy of the eBook, 33 Social Selling Tips which includes the article Is your Value Proposition “Socialized?”