Why Value Propositions are a Bear

June 15, 2011 at 7:34 AM Leave a comment

Why is it so hard to define value propositions?

It’s your company, after all. You know the product its features. Why is putting it all into a sentence that will make people want to pick up the phone so flippin’ hard?

In our work with B2B companies we delve deeply into our clients’ value propositions. Usually we’re given a list of features and benefits to start with. Over the years we’ve come to understand that features and benefits are not in themselves compelling. In fact, getting to the VP from the features can be an excruciating process – it’s like doing dental work from the back of the head instead of the mouth.

So what do you need? You need a promise.

If you really look at things with your customer’s eyes, the first thing you see is that they’re under pressure. That pressure creates pain, and the pain is tied in with the feeling that they’ve lost control.

Let me repeat: ultimately, pain in business comes from a feeling of being out of control.

Your task, then, is to relieve that feeling of being out of control. It’s not giving them more of this, a better that, or faster something else. It’s removing this horrible, scary feeling of not being in control.

Perhaps they’re losing control of their sales results, their customer satisfaction, their employee morale, their reputation, or a hundred other things. Your job is to promise to give them control.

So what’s the value proposition? It’s your way of articulating how you will relieve their pain.

So don’t start with product features. Start with your audience. What’s pressing on them? Who’s beating them up? Your value proposition beings with, “Would it relieve that pressure if you had a way to [insert what your nifty product does here]?”

Give your customer a reason to think you can help them get back in control, and your phone will ring.


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Thompson Morrison

Thompson Morrison

About Thompson

As CEO of FUSE Insight, Thompson Morrison uses powerful new web interviewing technologies to help businesses better align their brand with the needs and aspirations of their customers. Learn more at www.fuseinsight.com


"The single most significant strategic strength that an organization can have is not a good strategic plan, but a commitment to strategic listening on the part of every member of the organization." -- Tom Peters



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