One of the most important goals of marketing is to get people talking about your business. When people are thinking and talking about what you do, there will be sales. Perhaps the best way to get people talking about your business is to stand out from the competition–to differentiate your business by doing something in a way that others don’t. That differentiation is called your “value proposition.”
An effective marketing strategy is built on a strong value proposition or “core difference.” As you implement a customer-centric focus in your business, it is vital to understand what your customers love about you and what they say makes your business different. The marketing experts at The Inbound Guide can help you identify your value proposition and use it to your advantage.
The Value Proposition Canvas
Seventy-two percent of new product and service innovations fail to deliver on expectations. The value proposition canvas helps you anticipate and deliver what your customers want and need. It enables you to visualize, design, and test how you create value for your customers. The Value Proposition Canvas is made of a customer profile and the value map.
The customer profile
The customer profile helps you identify and describe the tasks your customer is trying to get done. These tasks might be functional, social, emotional, or any other category in life.
Next, it highlights what your customers struggle with when trying to get the task done–what pains and negative outcomes would your customers like to avoid or eliminate from the process?
Finally, the customer profile identifies customer gains, which describe how customers measure a job well done. What do they want to experience or accomplish, and how do they want to feel in the process?
As you learn about your customer’s profile (their jobs, pains, and desired gains), you can track, visualize, and test your understanding of your customers. The information becomes more accurate and reliable as you gather information and learn about your customers. One great way to learn about your customers is to interview them.
The value map
The value map lists the products and services your value proposition builds on. You describe how your products and services will minimize or eliminate the specific pains your customers’ experience. How do your services or products make their lives easier?
The value map also outlines how your company will produce or maximize the outcomes and benefits your customers expect or desire. The value map calls this “gain creators.”
In short, the value map helps you describe and communicate exactly how your product or service eliminates pains and creates gains for your customers. This will help you to identify and refine your value proposition. You can make changes and adjust things until you find what truly resonates with your customers.
You identify your value proposition when you make a clear connection between what matters to your customers and how your products or services will ease pains and maximize gains. Great value propositions focus on the most critical jobs, pains, and gains of their customers. You must start with the customer, then offer a viable solution. Unfortunately, many businesses try to provide answers before speaking with their customers.
Your customers define your value proposition–not you!
Your value proposition is an essential part of transforming your business into a customer-centric model. Here’s the key: your customers define your value proposition, not you! You know what you do that is different or better than your competition, but your customers understand what sets you apart in the ways that matter to them.
You probably do have better customer service or higher quality products than anyone else (and your customers know that), but is that what your customers really love about you? Perhaps what they appreciate is the fact that you guarantee you’ll show up on time for your service appointment or they get a discount. Maybe they are loyal to your business because you return their calls and emails within 4 hours.
Differentiating yourself doesn’t mean you need to do something big, expensive, dramatic, or controversial. You just need to do something better, faster, or in a unique way that meets your customers’ felt needs–solve their pains and increase their gains.
Ask your customers to tell you your value proposition
How do you discover your value proposition? First, create a list of six to eight of your ideal clients (the ones that you wish all your customers were like). Interview them, either by phone or in person, and invite them to share about their experience with your business.
Ask questions like, “Why did you hire us?” “What is one thing that we do that you appreciate the most?” “What is something we do that other companies don’t do?” “If you refer us to a friend, what do you say?” “Tell me about three other companies that you love to use.”
You aren’t looking for scientific data points; you’re looking for stories, repeated phrases, and common themes. These kinds of questions help you see your business from the customer’s point of view–what do they see and experience and what problems in their lives are you solving for them.
Don’t be afraid to talk to your customers
Customer interviews reveal valuable information and insight about your company, especially in this age of empowered and informed customers. This is an essential part of any significant rebranding, transformation project, or product launch.
Even if you offer a product or service that has no competition, customer insights can help you anticipate unmet customer needs and continue to build a loyal base. Regular, quality feedback from your customers gives you insight that enables you to keep up with and meet their expectations.
Follow-through is critical
The first step toward becoming a customer-centric business is to listen to your customers and respond systematically to their feedback. Customer-centric companies are relationship-driven. An essential part of any relationship is truly listening, then acting in response to what you hear.
When you decide to speak to your customers, be prepared to act on what you hear. Every conversation raises their expectations of you–and that’s a good thing! They want to help you deliver more of what they love.
The Value Proposition Canvas helps you find your core difference or value proposition in a clear, organized way. However, an excellent value proposition must be part of an effective, customer-centric marketing strategy. It is just one essential tactic that will help you accomplish your goals. The Inbound Guide can help you define your value proposition and appropriately structure your business in response.