Developing A Compelling Core Value Proposition

| Author: Dan Reed| Topic: Marketing Differentiation

A Powerful Story Is Essential To Customer Acquisition And Engagement

compelling-company-story-square-2-marketingIt’s harder than ever to get the attention of your prospects and customers.

According to the American Marketing Association, “the average consumer is exposed to up to 10,000 brand messages per day.” And, according to Forbes, “office workers receive at least 200 messages per day.”

To earn the attention of your prospects and customers, you need an emotionally compelling and memorable story. Your story must be clearly and quickly communicated throughout every channel customers discover you: your website, your sales reps, your social channels and your digital outreach.

That story starts with your company’s core value proposition. Defining and developing that value proposition is never an easy process to go through, but it’s one that pays off with improved customer acquisition and engagement.

Exploring Your Core Value Proposition: 6 Questions To Ask

Defining your core value proposition and weaving it into your company story is a process of discovery, reflection and analysis. This process starts with asking questions. Here are some of the questions to work through when building your messaging:

1) What’s Your Story?

Too many companies get lost in the weeds of their own industries. Your prospects need to immediately understand what your company does. How would you explain your business to a prospect? To a neighbor? To a precocious 10-year-old child? Ask various employees at your company how they’d explain it.  

2) What Makes You Remarkable?

What differentiates you from your competition? What stories would your customers tell your colleagues about your business? What claims can you make that none of your competitors can? It’s critical that you stand out from the pack to capture the attention of your prospects and customers. 

3) What Are The Key Challenges Your Prospects Face? 

To craft a memorable story and a compelling value proposition, you need to thoroughly understand the challenges your prospects face and the pressures they’re under. This information gives you context on how to frame your story and the emotional tone to take. 

4) What Problems Do You Solve?

Once you understand the pains and challenges your prospects face, you need to identify where your products or services add the most value. How do you help your customers solve their problems? 

5) What Are Your Prospects’ Primary Goals? 

What are your prospects and customers trying to achieve when they search for your product or service? If you can frame your value proposition as a response to these goals, then you have a better chance at creating an immediate and emotional connection with your prospects.

6) What Are The Benefits Of Your Products And Services?

It’s helpful to list every potential benefit your prospects and customers could gain from your prospects and services. Make sure to not just list the immediate benefits, but also the subsequent outcomes of achieving those benefits.

As you ask these questions, make sure you’re speaking to a broad array of people. Marketers, sales reps, product developers, customer support specialists, the service delivery team and company executives should all be included in the conversation. If possible, you should also speak to current customers about why they chose your company over the competition.

Analyzing Your Benefits And Differentiators 

Once you’ve gone through your discovery process, review the list of benefits and differentiators you identified and start narrowing it down. Remove any that don’t directly correspond to the goals and challenges of your prospects and customers.  

Narrow your list down to a small handful of your most important benefits and differentiators. Start examining why these are important to your prospects and customers. Determine the immediate value of these benefits, and then map out the resulting positive outcomes for each.

For instance, let’s examine the immediate benefits of hiring a digital marketing agency. CMOs and marketing directors looking to enlist the services of an agency can expect the immediate benefits of an improved marketing strategy and support with digital marketing execution.  

These outcomes are the immediate or short-term solutions of “needing to improve strategy” or “not having enough internal resources to execute a marketing program.” But these solutions are not the end of the positive outcomes prospects can expect from hiring the agency.

With improved digital marketing strategy and execution, these marketing directors and CMOs can also anticipate:

  • Increased website traffic
  • Improved conversion rates
  • More qualified leads
  • More sales opportunities
  • More new customers
  • Increased revenue
  • Overall company growth

They can also expect the potential of personal career advancement due to the recognition they receive from bringing these positive outcomes to their company.

All of these expected positive outcomes could be legitimate contenders for the digital marketing agency’s core value proposition. Determining which one to emphasize is a balancing act between clarity and emotional impact.

Mapping Out Your Expected Positive Outcomes

Once you’ve analyzed your benefits and differentiators and identified the expected positive outcomes associated with them, it’s helpful to lay them out in an Expected Positive Outcomes (EPO) Range. This range offers you a tool to assist in deciding where to target your core value proposition messaging.

Think of this range like a football field. Your prospects are the offense, starting their drive at the 20-yard line, where they decide to buy from you. The end zone is where they realize the ultimate benefit of that decision. As they move down the field, they realize the escalating list of positive outcomes.

Expected-Positive-Outcomes-EPO-Range-Square-2-Marketing

Once you’ve mapped out your EPO Range, review each expected positive outcome for both clarity and emotional resonance. How immediately clear will the connection between your offerings and each outcome be? How strongly will each outcome emotionally resonate with your prospects?

Choosing the most obvious immediate benefit (improved strategy and execution) offers the most clarity. No marketing director or CMO would fail to see the connection between hiring an agency and their immediate goals. However, this message may not have the emotional impact needed to resonate with the prospect. On the other hand, leading with the ultimate benefit (personal career advancement), while certainly emotionally appealing, may be too great of a leap to be immediately understandable.

As you look to strike the perfect balance between clarity and emotional resonance, keep your buyer personas in mind. How much do they know in advance about the products and services they are considering? Are they literal-minded or more emotional? What state of mind are they likely to be in when they are first exposed to your message?

Weaving Your Key Value Propositions Into Your Company Story

After you’ve analyzed your key value propositions against your EPO Range, you still may not have a clear winner as your leading core value proposition. That’s OK.

If you have a small handful of differentiators and value propositions to highlight, explore each one as a drafted “chapter” of your company brand story. Write a few paragraphs on each value proposition, how it relates to your personas and why your company is uniquely effective at realizing that expected positive outcome.

Review the chapters you’ve written. Is there a common theme? Is one value proposition emerging in multiple chapters? If so, it may be a clear sign that benefit is your core value proposition. Write a new chapter as the overarching theme to your company story focused on that value proposition.

Review that overarching theme chapter from the perspective of your prospects and customers. Will that story create a powerful emotional connection? Will it be immediately clear what exactly it is your company does? Does that story differentiate you from your competitors? If the answer to all three of those questions is “yes,” then you have a winner.

Communicating Your Core Value Proposition

It’s not enough to simply identify your core value proposition; you have to tell the world about it.

Start by refining the company story documents you created. Get that messaging in the clearest, most compelling and most engaging language possible. Then start distributing.

Update your website homepage to lead with the core value proposition messaging. Boil your messaging down into an elevator pitch your sales reps and employees can use when talking to prospects. Subtly weave your core value proposition messaging into your educational content. Make sure this messaging is highlighted in all of your communication channels, both online and offline.

When you’ve established a powerful, consistent, compelling, simple and differentiated core value proposition, you’ve given prospects a clear reason to do business with you instead of your competitors. You’ve also given your current customers a distinct reason to continue doing business with you and to recommend you to their colleagues. The expected positive outcomes from that are:

  • Differentiated market position
  • Clearer messaging
  • Increased customer acquisition
  • Improved customer engagement and retention
  • Increased revenue and profitability

And maybe even personal career advancement for you.

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