Why Your Value Proposition Isn’t Working

Why your value proposition isn't working

Leaders understand the importance of a good value proposition. In fact, most executives will quickly share a brief description when asked. However marketing teams often struggle to effectively communicate their value proposition in branding and messaging.

Begin With The Customer In Mind

The problem begins when leaders go without a business plan or rush through the process. There’s a reason the Business Model Canvas begins with Customers and Value Proposition. Don’t put the cart before the horse. Before working on manufacturing capabilities, strategic partnerships, sales teams or marketing materials, be sure to spend enough time defining customers and value.

Writing down the first few words that come to mind doesn’t mean you’ve nailed this part. Your future plans won’t matter until you write a clearly-defined value proposition for a specific customer. Getting this right takes time and you should focus your energy here first.

Common Value Proposition Fails

  1. Customer segment is not well defined – A good value proposition hinges on a clearly defined, specific customer. Are you keeping your customer definition broad to ensure the most potential customers? Just say no! Your marketing efforts will confuse customers and your business will suffer without a clearly defined customer segment.
  2. Wording is ambiguous – Many companies identify key words to summarize and communicate the value they offer. Customers are missing the context of your company culture, where these words may provide significant meaning. Without this context, customers don’t understand what you mean.
  3. The value is not unique – A value proposition is by definition unique. How is your product or service or company different than the competition? If it’s not different, why should your customer care? Have you described the unique experience that customers will enjoy when they buy your product or service?

How To Get Your Value Proposition Working

If you don’t have a business plan, get one. There are many good options, but I like the clear and simple Business Model Canvas. Begin by defining the ideal customer segment. Then use simple words to describe how you create unique value for that customer.

Having trouble describing this? Give it more time. Every business offers something unique. If you are looking for a basic template, I recommend Steve Blank’s “We help X do Y by doing Z.”

Once defined, test your value proposition with others. Do they agree that you’ve avoided the 3 fails above? How do they respond when you share it with them? Can they explain it back to you? If customers say “wow” or want to hear more, chances are it’s working.

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