We can at last say with some confidence that we are seeing some “green shoots of recovery”. Recent figures have indicated an acceleration in growth and this points towards a more buoyant economy. Let’s not get carried away as we are still operating at levels below the pre 2008 crash. Nevertheless, the supply side of the economy is optimistic that interest in its products and services and hopefully sales will increase next year, as potential buyers at last dip into their cash hoardings and start investing in their businesses.
A direct consequence of this improvement in sentiment is that many companies will gear up their sales machines in anticipation of improved demand. Collectively that means increased competition for sales.
Also, as buyers start to loosen the purse strings, their years in a very tight market will have changed their perceptions of what is important to them and their expectations of their suppliers and their solutions. This means that your product or service may no longer fit the market as well as it once did. As a result the value you bring to your market may be reduced resulting in a poorer take up of your services and offering your competitors a chance to get ahead.
New entrants into the market will also be seeking ways to differentiate their product to better reflect buyers changing needs. All these pressures should lead you to the conclusion that you need to review your value. More explicitly you should be reconsidering your value proposition and testing its relevance to a changing market.
Your Value Proposition
Your value proposition is a short statement which explains to your target audience what problem you solve and why they should buy it from you instead of your competition. What is different about your solution or offering compared to your competition. It is sometimes called an elevator pitch or positioning statement. However you want to describe it, now is the time to give it a review.
It’s easy to become a little blasé about your value proposition after all you know and love your product. Your target market doesn’t have the same attachment and will go after what they want and will not hesitate to ignore you if you no longer meet their needs.
I remember listening to an interview with Jack Nicklaus where he said every year at the beginning of the golf season he would go to his coach and go through the basics of his grip, his stance and his swing in minute detail to make sure that he hadn’t picked up any bad habits that might affect his future performance. Taking that analogy forward we should regularly review our value proposition to ensure its relevance.
Your Value Proposition Components
Lets just remind ourselves what should be included in our value proposition.
What is our target market? Has this changed? Is our market bigger or smaller than before?
What is the current problem we are solving for our target market? Is it an important consideration for customers in our market? For those of you who don’t have a formal value proposition, start with the biggest issue customers have with your industry and see if you address this. If your product or solution is less important to your market than previously, then you’ll have a tough time selling it.
What are we offering? Is it a new product or service? Can we explain it easily?
What is different about our solution? At this point many people talk about a unique selling point. For most businesses finding something that is unique is almost impossible. What you want to isolate is what you do differently or what additional capability you have, that will make them buy from you rather than your competition.
Which brings me to the last point what alternatives are there to what you offer? Why is your offering superior to the competitions? What is the Return on Investment from adopting your solution?
By asking yourselves these questions you should get a good understanding of changes in the market and how that might affect your value proposition. You may be affected by such things as changes in legislation, new products entering the market or your industry being more interested in other problems. Unless you answer these questions, you may well find your value proposition increasingly irrelevant at a time when your target market will be more active than it has been for years.
Combining his own professional experiences working as a CEO with his extensive research and expertise as an international authority on customer relationships, author Bob Thompson reveals the five routine organizational habits of successful customer-centric businesses: Listen, Think, Empower, Create, and Delight.