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Turning Your Value Prop Upside Down

by David Brock on July 18th, 2013

We’re all proud of our value propositions!  We feature them in our web sites, we’re trained to brag about them to our customers.  Usually, when I hear people describe their company’s value proposition, the focus seems to be all about the company or the product.

  • We provide the most advanced social selling CRM platform in the world!
  • Our products have the highest levels of reliability  of any in it’s category!
  • We have more features and functionality than other provider of [fill in the blank] in the industry!
  • Our price performance exceeds that of everyone in the industry!

I’ll stop here, but too often our value propositions are really about us and our products.  Sometimes, it’s a little about the customer:

  • We help reduce your inventory expense, through better information and inventory control.
  • We improve the productivity of your people with more timely information.
  • We help you respond more quickly to queries from your customers.

Again, we create lists of all the Features, Benefits, Advantages of our products, services, and company—inflicting the whole list on our customers, thinking more is better.

But very little of this is about the customer.  It’s always about us and what we do, but very little about the customer and their point of view.  We then start running all over the place, spewing our “value propositions,”  It’s in our web site, our collateral, we pitch people on what we do.  The more we have, the more likely we are going to hit on something, perhaps accidentally

What if we took each of our value proposition, turned them upside down and rephrased them in ways that are more meaningful to the customer (individual).

For example, if “We help you respond more quickly to queries from your customers.” is a key element of our value proposition, then what if we thought:

Who (persona) cares about responding more quickly to queries from our customers?  Is it someone in sales, marketing or customer service?  Why do they care about it?  Are they having problems responding to their customers on a timely basis?  If we know the VP of Customer Services is measured on timeliness in responding to queries from customers and their performance has been suffering, then our value proposition will really hit home.  That VP will be interested in learning about how we can help.  The VP of finance could care less—so it’s not a value proposition to her, it’s just useless information.

Turning our value propositions upside down is very powerful.  Our value propositions are about things we do really well, but we need to find out who really cares about it.  So if we think about that—who cares and how do we figure out whether they have the problem that we solve (for example, What questions should we ask?)?, Doing this focuses us only on people who have the problems we solve—the people who really care!  These people can’t wait to talk to us!

It’s as simple as knowing what problems we solve better than anyone else, then finding the people that have those problems.

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  1. Yea, David. It’s really important to make things about the customer. Sometimes it just takes a small alteration of your message to get it right, but the funny thing is that it often takes a huge change in mindset to know that minor shift in message is even necessary.

    • Thanks Heather, just looking at things from the customer perspective changes the impact dramatically.

  2. Great post. These are things we have all been taught, but tend to forget.

    • Thanks Tom, you are absolutely right. We all tend to forget them every once and a while. That’s why I provided a bit of a reminder. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  3. Maries Dinaux permalink

    Thanks David. You hit the sweet spot, the center of the rose. The real difference in thinking and doing inside-out vs outside-in. I-O vs O-I is becoming a bit of a platitude but still is so much true [see Tom’s response].
    So regarding the customer value is why we call it a value proposition and not a function of features proposition.

    • Thanks for the comment Maries. It is amazing how simple things get when you start with the customer.

  4. Gary Peyrot permalink

    Your post is spot on! It’s funny too because that is exactly what a value proposition was originally supposed to be, the bridge between our features/benefits and the customer’s needs. Value is only established in relation to solving a problem so yes, we absolutely have to create that bridge.

    It’s too bad that we are so self-focused that even a wonderful concept like a value proposition gets corrupted over time. Thanks for bringing us back to the basics.


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