Daniel Burstein

Value Proposition: Before you express the value, you have to deeply understand the value (MarketingSherpa Podcast Episode #3)

January 29th, 2019

You think your product is great. Your service is top-notch. And personally, I have no reason to doubt you.

Your ideal customer, on the other hand … let’s face it, they don’t live in the four walls of your office. They aren’t thinking about your product every moment of every day like you are. They — and I hope this doesn’t sound harsh — really don’t care.

This disconnect is normal, of course. But here’s where you’ll get in trouble.

The next time you hire an advertising agency to create a campaign, when you redesign your website, when you launch a product — if you use that same insider thinking, you will undercut your marketing investments. Because those advertising and marketing creatives need to be armed with an essential reason why the ideal customer should buy your product.

Without that core reason — that marketing creativity isn’t being put to its most effective use. Just like a painting without a viewpoint isn’t really art, it’s just nice colors on a canvas.

Without that core reason, all you get is “we’re the bestest, greatest, amazingest [product type] you’ve ever seen.” You can buy all the media you want and blast that message out into the world but really … c’mon … how many customers will truly believe it?

Your product needs a value proposition. In our latest podcast, Austin McCraw and I have a robust yet light-hearted conversation about pitfalls marketers can get into when crafting their value prop. You can listen to this episode below in whichever way is most convenient for you or click the orange “Subscribe” button to get every episode.



Listen to the podcast audio: Episode 3 (Right mouse click to download)

More about episode #3 — consider the competition

A value proposition created in a vacuum is no value proposition at all.

And this is what makes crafting a value prop so difficult. You’ve got to take a good, hard look at what other options your customers have. Even when it isn’t direct competition. For example, customers taking a short trip aren’t only considering which airline is best, they are considering if they should drive instead. Or take a train. Or perhaps not go at all.

That competitive element can go against our human nature because by playing up a competitor’s offerings, we can feel disloyal to the team we’re on.

But it is essential for marketers to be the voice of the customer in the organization, reminding the whole company what other offerings are out there. By doing so, you not only sell your company’s products and services but can positively shape their value to create something even better for customers. And by having an influential stake in value creation, you are at the heart of what is important to business leaders and the very essence of the business itself.

These are topics Austin and I dove into. Here are a few key moments from this episode:

  • 1:55 – Austin defines value prop.
  • 4:26 – You’re trying to set an expectation, not make a promise.
  • 5:35 – There is a fundamental value proposition for the entire company. Marketers can feel intimidated by that because they feel like they can’t really affect it. But every person in every company can likely at least affect one of these other levels of value proposition in their daily work.
  • 8:16 – Organizations also have a value proposition. Cultures have a value proposition.
  • 11:00 – A value proposition workshop is a way to get key business leaders together and discover the most powerful value proposition.
  • 12:19 – Consider the competition, even when you think the product is so breakthrough that there is no competition …
  • 15:49 – … because there is always competition. I’m a Jacksonville Jaguars fans, and at the beginning of the season, I could have felt like they have no competition. But now, staring back at a 5-11 record, reality clearly shows they weren’t up to the competition.
  • 17:42 – Of course what we’re talking about is looking past your direct competitors. We use the example of newspapers here. Even though many newspapers do not have direct competition, they still have plenty of indirect and replacement competitors.
  • 21:20 – Sometimes products or brands within your company aren’t differentiated enough. In that case, less is more, and they shouldn’t all exist.
  • 21:56 – Sometimes your products are competing with each other. In that case, make sure there is clear value differentiation between them. A bad example is my car insurance renewal. I get a thick packet in the mail that I don’t understand, and I don’t really grasp the different value of my product options.
  • 24:10 – A feature matrix is a great way to show the different levels of value offered by different products to minimize competition between products and help customers select the best offering.
  • 21:41 – Your product needs clear exclusivity from all competitors, both internal and external.
  • 27:25 – Even if you have a commoditized product, you can find ways to create and communicate value exclusivity. For example, com uses customer service and social media personalities to differentiate from other (frankly, fairly similar) fitness-oriented supplements and vitamins.
  • 28:03 – Even sushi can have exclusivity.
  • 28:55 – It takes the sushi chefs at this restaurant three years just to learn how to cook the rice.
  • 32:07 – A competitive analysis can help you identify elements of exclusivity.
  • 32:46 – If you really start to delve in, you might discover your product doesn’t really have a value prop. In that case, we discuss what to do.

You might also like …

Powerful Value Propositions: How to optimize this critical marketing elements — and lift your results

Customer Value: The 4 essential levels of value propositions

Value Proposition Development on-demand certification course

Daniel Burstein

About Daniel Burstein

Daniel Burstein, Senior Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS. Daniel oversees all content and marketing coming from the MarketingExperiments and MarketingSherpa brands while helping to shape the editorial direction for MECLABS – digging for actionable information while serving as an advocate for the audience. Daniel is also a speaker and moderator at live events and on webinars. Previously, he was the main writer powering MarketingExperiments publishing engine – from Web clinics to Research Journals to the blog. Prior to joining the team, Daniel was Vice President of MindPulse Communications – a boutique communications consultancy specializing in IT clients such as IBM, VMware, and BEA Systems. Daniel has 18 years of experience in copywriting, editing, internal communications, sales enablement and field marketing communications.

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