If you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete. Excellent point from Jack Welsh. Does your business have a winning value proposition? We have found many clients that cannot articulate their unique value proposition. In fact, building value propositions creates more mistakes than any marketing subject we know. In our opinion, trying to win against your competition with value proposition mistakes is like trying to sail with no wind. Such mistakes will certainly lose many valuable customers.
Check out our thoughts on creative marketing.
Nothing is more important for your business than competitive advantages … the more you have, the stronger your business. So pay close attention as we describe many mistakes when building and implementing winning value propositions.
Before we continue, let me ask you a question.
What works best for value propositions in your business? We would love to hear what it was. Would you do us a favor and post it in the comments section below? Be the one who starts a conversation.
With the advent of the Internet, the number of marketing options available to both budding and experienced entrepreneurs has become staggering.
Related: Grow Your Business with 10 Secrets of Value Propositions
So how do you derive good differentiation? For starters, make sure you understand the concept of a value proposition:
Start by understanding there are two ways to win in a competitive market:
- Achieve sustainable lower cost (and therefore price) than your competition for the same products and services (very difficult to sustain)
- Deliver more value, despite equal or higher price
A business is a value delivery system. The heart of a winning value proposition is the end-result experiences of value a business intends to deliver to its target customer segments. It needs to be articulated for the customer value end state … not for your product, service, or business process.
To understand your potential value to customers:
Be your customers … study and creatively infer value by observing / learning from what they do.
Do your claims surpass the value alternatives in the market place? Do your customers believe your claims?
So where should you look for mistakes in your business’s value propositions? The top areas include:
Value proposition mistakes … limited real value
The most useful definition of unique selling propositions (USP) is a believable collection of the most persuasive reasons people should notice you and take the action you’re seeking.
This way, it guides your decisions much more clearly and can be used as the basis for marketing messages.
If you don’t have strong selling propositions, people don’t have good reasons to do either of those.
For example, if your online bookstore has average selection, decent prices, delivery, a guarantee, good customer service, and a website, why would anyone buy from you? There’s surely a competitor who beats you in at least some of those aspects.
You don’t have to be the best in every way. Sure, it’s great if you are. But realistically, it’s difficult enough to be the best couple of ways.
However, if you’re the best in at least several ways, you’re the best option for the people who value those propositions.
Starbuck’s doesn’t have the lowest prices. Amazon isn’t the most prestigious book seller. Zappos’ isn’t the easiest way to shop. People buy from them for other reasons.
So, if your bookstore has the largest selection, for example, but the other things are just average, the people who value a large selection have a reason to buy from you.
You must have some product or service elements that are unique. Something has to make you the best option for your target customers.
Otherwise, they have no good reason to buy from you.
Value proposition … limited value experiences
The heart of a winning unique selling proposition is the end result experiences of value a business intends to deliver to its target customers. The end result experiences. For example, a customer shopping for an electric drill is looking for one that can deliver holes as easy and conveniently as possible. Also one that can deliver the most multiple functions.
Not articulated for customers
Unique selling propositions need to be articulated for customers … not for your products, services or business processes. Products, services, processes are the vehicles for the proposition delivery.
Value proposition model … limited specifics
Customers perceive relative value in any proposition, even implicit ones … so every business delivers a unique selling proposition (explicit or implicit). You need to design it explicitly. Don’t let it happen by chance.
Limited knowledge of target customers
“Become” your customers instead of just asking them what they want from your business. Listen, observe and study to creatively infer from what customers DO.
Not having multiple unique selling propositions
When your customers have customers, different USPs are required for different players in the value delivery chain.
Doesn’t grab customer attention
People won’t ever buy from you if they don’t even understand why they should pay attention to you. And they notice you only if you have strong and unique selling propositions.
The usual definition of a unique selling proposition is incomplete. It is a promise of something the competition cannot or does not offer. It must be strong enough to move the masses, i.e., attract new customers.
Unique selling propositions, as defined it like that, is a decent, but incomplete, internal tool that can guide your decisions to the right general direction. But nothing more.
Value proposition example … no proof of claims
If you say, my pizza is the best in the world; will people flood your restaurant? No. They won’t believe you.
Without proof, you can’t say much before it starts to sound like marketing talk. No one pays attention. Or remembers. They just don’t believe. No believing, no trust. It is all downhill after that.
For example, I recently saw a digital marketing competitor site where they claimed to be the secret weapon of digital marketing for the most successful companies in the world. Needless to say, we doubt anyone can take that seriously when nothing supports the claim.
As long as you don’t prove your claims, people are unlikely to really believe them. And your unique selling proposition becomes of no use.
Use studies, testimonials, and common sense, among other methods, to prove your claims.
Impressive numbers can be the right choice, but they don’t always work.
Instead, a few expert testimonials make the idea credible. They can even take away the need for you to make any claims’ the testimonials can make the claims for you.
Similarly, you can use testimonials to build your products’ overall perceived value and take away the last doubt people might feel about your promises.
Many businesses don’t help people see what sets the company apart from its competitors. This always amazes us.
They are better than others, and they could prove it. They just don’t do it.
Instead, they try to persuade people with general promises, corporate babble, and feature lists. If your website doesn’t clearly tell visitors what makes you worth their attention, they won’t spend the time to figure it out on their own.
Weak claim communications
It’s your job to hit people in the head with what makes you different and worth attention. Clever ways to communicate your claims. In believable ways.
When people understand why they should buy your product instead of any other, they’ll do it.
Poor customer experience / service
Great service creates a great experience and becomes something worth your customer talking to his friends about. It is the most important element of your word of mouth marketing campaign.
Limited trust and warranty
Trust is the most often named reason customers say they select businesses to do business with. Good warranties are great places to start building trust.
The bottom line
So, if you were wondering where to put your marketing time and energy to optimize how to win customers from your competitors, focus on avoiding these mistakes in building and delivering winning unique selling propositions.
Need some help in capturing more customers from your marketing strategies? Creative ideas to help the differentiation with potential clients?
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Call Mike at 607-725-8240.
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More reading on value propositions from Digital Spark Marketing’s Library:
Mike Schoultz is a digital marketing and customer service expert. With 48 years of business experience, he consults on and writes about topics to help improve the performance of small business. Find him on G+, Facebook, Twitter, Digital Spark Marketing, and LinkedIn.