How to Judge the Strength of Your Value Propositions

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Compelling value propositions are essential for successful marketing. The best way to determine the effectiveness of a proposed value proposition is to test it with real potential customers, but that approach isn’t always practical for many B2B companies. This article describes a framework that B2B marketers can use internally to judge the strength of their value propositions.

The textbook definition of a value proposition is “. . . a concise statement of the benefits that a company is delivering to customers who buy its products or services.” (Investopedia) A value proposition is a promise you make to potential buyers about the value they will receive by becoming your customer. 

Value propositions are a core component of every company’s business and marketing strategy. When you’re formulating a business/marketing strategy, there are two questions you must answer very early in the strategy development process.

  1. What type(s) of customers will we seek to serve?
  2. How will we create/deliver superior value for/to those customers?

How you answer these questions will affect every aspect of your strategy, and the second question requires you to develop and articulate clear value propositions.

There are dozens of value proposition templates available online and in books, and almost as many models or frameworks that describe the components of a value proposition or the process marketers should use to develop value propositions.

Some of these templates, models, and frameworks are useful, but developing compelling value propositions is still a challenging task that entails significant background work and requires a combination of art and science.

The best way to gauge the strength of a proposed value proposition is to test it will real potential buyers. Large B2C companies frequently use this approach. For example, a consumer products company may run different versions of a TV ad in different market areas and monitor the performance of each version. Or, they may test the strength of different value propositions using focus groups.

This approach isn’t as practical for many B2B companies because they tend to have fewer potential customers and longer sales cycles, and because B2B buying processes typically involve multiple “buyers.”

There is, however, a way for B2B marketers to evaluate the likely effectiveness of a proposed value proposition. The following diagram depicts a basic framework that B2B marketers can use internally to judge the strength of their value propositions.


This diagram shows that the strength of a value proposition results from the interplay of three factors – the needs and priorities of prospective buyers, the strength of your competitors’ offerings, and the strength of your company’s offering.

The diagram also shows where winning, toss-up, and losing value propositions are typically found in the framework, and the following table compares the attributes of strong, so-so, and weak value propositions.


Winners – Your value propositions will be strong when the attributes of your offering are aligned with the needs and priorities of your prospective buyers and when your offering is superior to your competitors’ offerings (relative to buyer needs and priorities).

Losers – Your value propositions will be weak or irrelevant if the attributes of your offering aren’t aligned with the needs and priorities of your prospective buyers. They will also be weak if the attributes of your offering are inferior to your competitors’ offerings.

Toss-Ups – In a three-circle Venn diagram, the “sweet spot” is usually where all three circles overlap, but that isn’t the case here. If your value propositions are aligned with your prospective buyers’ needs and priorities, but they focus on attributes of your offering that are just equivalent to what your competitors are offering, you won’t have a competitive advantage. You’ll win some deals and lose some deals, and whether you win or lose will likely depend on price.

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In some cases, your value propositions will need to include points of parity (the attributes of your offering that are equivalent to what your competitors are offering) as well as points of difference (the attributes of your offering that are superior to what your competitors are offering). Some of those points of parity may be very important to a prospective buyer, so your value propositions need to show that you “break-even” with your competitors on those points.

The bottom line:  Strong value propositions will emphasize points of difference but include points of parity.

Top image courtesy of jonny goldstein via Flickr (CC).

Republished with author's permission from original post.

David Dodd
David Dodd is a B2B business and marketing strategist, author, and marketing content developer. He works with companies to develop and implement marketing strategies and programs that use compelling content to convert prospects into buyers.

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