One of the biggest challenges I see on an ongoing basis with small business PR consulting clients is a lack of developed value propositions that demonstrates the need they are truly meeting. Most businesses are established to fill an unmet need in the marketplace. Yet the catch is so much attention goes into developing the product or service to sell or hurry and get to market, that conveying the message of what that offering is solving, and the benefit it’s delivering to the target audience, gets lost in the shuffle. Value propositions are vital for small business marketing when it comes to PR and media relations, to maximize public exposure and gain market influencer buy-in…not to mention credibility and customers.
Before you can execute a solid PR campaign, composing value propositions as part of your overall messaging and positioning is a must. Below are five recommended steps to help you get started. Hopefully these steps will guide you, so you walk away with a better sense of how to demonstrate the benefits of your product and/or service that will not only grab the attention of media and other market influencers, but give you a competitive advantage above the rest in your playing field.
Step 1: Identify Customer Needs
- Ask yourself: What does my target customer need or want that my company has that no one else if offering?
- Identify and outline each target audience by role (ie., moms, CEO, sales manager) and capture their specific needs/challenges.
Step 2: Turn Product Features Into Customer Benefits–The ‘So What?’ Factor
- Most customers and prospects don’t want to hear about your product’s performance, technical advances, or the complementary services you are offering UNLESS it answers their question of “What’s In It For ME?”
- Benefits can be turned into a powerful value proposition summarizing the emotional appeal of the product or service, directly speaking to the need
- Ask yourself: What benefit will my customers or prospects get from my product or service?
Step 3: Develop Individual Customer Value Propositions
- Each customer/target audience has different needs and business problems. Customize value propositions to meet each need/challenge identified in Step 1. For example: CFO needs to shift from paper invoicing to electronic. Benefit: Your company addresses this need by offering a solution automates invoice processing faster, error-free and at a fraction of the cost of other similar products on the market. The emotional appeal: CFO has peace of mind he/she will save thousands of dollars that will be added to the bottom line.
- Do NOT attempt to create a single proposition that appeals to ALL customers and prospects because each target audience is different when it comes to needs.
Step 4: Communicate/Deliver Your Proposition
- Engage, listen, and analyze what your customer is saying when delivering your value proposition. Understanding the motivations/demands of your customer or prospect is key to having emotional appeal. Plus you may discover new or refined needs to meet.
- Streamline value propositions across all communications materials, both internal and external: Website, data sheets, blogs, social content, video content, brochures, internal messaging docs, etc.
- Always ensure and maintain consistency company-wide, and in the field.
- Remember: Customer attitudes and needs change–keep value propositions up-to-date.
Step 5: Measure the Effect of Your Value Proposition
- Again: Engage, listen and respond. Doing so will allow you to have immediate feedback on whether your value proposition is working, or not.
- Value Measurement: The discipline of quantifying!
- Improved Customer Relationships: Customer loyalty; repeat business; referrals; brand ambassadors.
- Increased Sales Effectiveness: larger deal sizes; higher qualified leads; increased profits.
- Increased PR/Marketing Effectiveness: Web analytics; email campaign tracking; social media metrics; media/analyst mentions, coverage.
Properly used and executed, strong value propositions will deliver market credibility, a competitive edge, and ultimately ROI.
Do you have an effective value proposition? If so, has it worked in your favor? Or on the flip, what hasn’t worked?
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