After investigating our values in VeloCITI session 1, we’ve moved on to crafting our Unique Selling Proposition or Value Proposition so we have a clear and impactful way of conveying the essence of what our businesses are all about.
It’s sometimes referred to as the elevator pitch, you only have a few seconds to convey to someone what you do in a way which uncovers it’s unique characteristics while still being clear enough for them to perfectly understand what you’re saying.
David Murray of Cape Venture Partners hosted an excellent half day session with us taking us through the nuts & bolts of value propositions. We also focused on company names and how these impact the way the market perceives the company.
Describing your company in 10 words:
If you had just ten words with which to describe why people should buy your company‘s product or service, what would you say?
10 words are very few, especially when there’s so much we want to say to those who ask us that all important question: “So, what is it that YOU do?”. Many times we are faced with this question, not only from business people, but sometimes from our family members and friends. If we are stuck for simple words to describe what we do,chances are we haven’t Mastered the art of selling our businesses yet.
So What exactly is a Value Proposition?
Otherwise known as USP or Unique Selling Point/Proposition,it’s a condensed, yet simple and easy to understand expression of what your business is all about.
- It has to be Unique, Different and that uniqueness has to be attractive enough to matter.
- It has to be clear and easy to comprehend with as little jargon if any at all.
- It has to matter to the customer or potential customer
- It has to be a solution to an existing problem. In other words there must be real(or perceived) value in what you are offering or no-one will be willing to pay for it.
- It has to be different in some way to what your competitors are saying in order to make you stand out and be more attractive to the potential customer.
Real world Value Propositions
David took us through a few examples of varying lengths to give us an understanding of how Value Propositions are used in the real world.
Volvo: „For safety-conscious consumers, Volvo cars are the safest (as rated by Consumer Reports) for adults and children, at a price that is 10% higher than the standard GM family sedan.”
Burger King: “Have it your way at Burger King.”
Domino Pizza: “We deliver hot, fresh pizza in 30 minutes or less or it’s free.”
As we can see, due to the differences in Brands and product or service offering, a different approach is required.
Its interesting to note that Volvo has part of it’s Value Proposition explaining it as being 10% more expensive than its competitors. We recognised that though Volvo’s Value Proposition was relatively long in essence the the word which Volvo has worked to own in the consumer’s mind is safety, and it has done a great job of doing this.
We noted that Burger King, though it’s statement is very short it holds alot of meaning in it. The fact that the company’s name has the name of it’s product in it also made a significant difference in helping us understand what it does without needing to know the brand at all. Burger King are also indirectly saying that you don’t get it the way you want it from their competitors. The Value they offer is the freedom to choose the burger you want. It’s all about customisation and choice.
Domino Pizza focused heavily on the service delivery and quality areas which the majority of Pizza lovers have issues with.
- Time it takes to get the Pizza
- Heat & Freshness
- Accountability if the above 2 are not met
Our Value Propositions in the Hot Seat
We engaged in another little exercise where each of the 15 companies was placed on the hot seat in the middle of the room and we had our original Value Propositions which were extracted from our business plans from the VeloCITI application up on the big screen for all to see. One by one we had feedback from the floor and had to give our own opinion of what we had originally written.
Nine times out of ten the response was that from the word go, the VeloCITI sessions had changed our perspectives completely on how we are supposed to be communicating our businesses. This is true for me without a doubt and I have already completely change my concept of what my business is all about. Below is the snippet which was extracted from my own VeloCITI application business plan.
“Nomad-one consulting is an Independent Design & Web Consultancy which focuses on advising businesses and organizations and developing creative and strategic solutions in order to solve business Problems. We use a collaborative approach, focus on networking and building relationships and prefer to promote ethically sound businesses.
It’s already change completely though one or 2 points might still be true. How embarrassing so many ands and and. Nothing too unique as well and quite vague – back to the drawing board then hey!
Value Proposition Homework
We were all tasked to revisit and improve or completely rewrite our Value Propositions to be more in line with what we had learnt on the day.
Doing some browsing around online and seeing what else is being said about Value Propositions I came across the following PDF which asked the question, “Is there REAL VALUE in your Value Proposition?”.
A few questions asked in the PDF highlight what we should be asking ourselves to find the value in what we are offering. It’s worth thinking about and answering on a regular basis.
- What do we do in helping our customers increase their revenue?
- What do we do in helping our customers decrease their costs?
- What do we do in helping our customer increase their profitability?
- What do we do to help our customers better respond to the needs of their customers, to new opportunities that might be presented by their customers, or to threats?
- What do we do to help our customers improve their productivity?
- What do we do to help our customers improve their cycle time/speed?
- What do we do to help our customers improve the satisfaction, retention, and growth of their customers?
- What do we do to help our customers improve their quality?
- What do we do to help our customers improve the satisfaction of their employees?
The Generic Value Proposition
Another exercise was to craft a VP using a generic template similar to the one below found on http://www.goldsbrough.biz
The example they supplied:
“For a commuter who wants to eat breakfast on the train without mess, our Excello BrekkieBar product is a health food, which provides a completely nutritious and delicious breakfast that you can eat anywhere.
Unlike grain bars and breakfast cereals, BrekkieBar tastes like a full English cooked breakfast, but has no fat and no calories, and even the wrapper can be eaten, leaving no waste.
This is because of our unique combination of innovative use of genetically modified foods and bio-engineered plastic packaging, that we have already used to produce a leading product in this market – Excello BrandyMints – the all-in-one after-dinner treat.”
I also found an interesting Value Proposition Design Template which you can download here to guide you through the process of assessing different facets of your offering.
Once You’ve got something going, keep asking the question, So What? It helps to assess whether what you saying matters and whether it’s of any real value. Once you run out of “So Whats” you should have a clear idea of what is important to convey and how to do so.
Once again steer away from Jargon and keep things as simple to understand as possible so it can appeal to a wide audience. Simplicity should not render your VP completely generic though as it still has to be unique enough to get people interested.