Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Value Proposition, Message Hierarchy and The Elevator


Does your firm have a value proposition? Is it developed into a messaging hierarchy that every single person in the company can articulate? If you were in an elevator with your absolutely best prospective customer, could you succinctly state how you offer value to that person and their firm? Could everyone and anyone in your company deliver the value proposition in, say, an elevator?

What's that you say, you don't know the definition of your ideal prospective customer? Don't worry, we'll cover that in a separate blog post.

Here's a quick 4 step process to get you started with a messaging hierarchy based on the value proposition:

·       Step 1 - Answer the question 'What does [insert company name] do?"

o    If you say, we manufacture widgets with feature, feature, feature and benefit, benefit, benefit then you might as well shut up and go home right then and there. If you haven't realized it by now, features and benefits do not foster engagement unless there is a distinct and immediate need at the very moment you state your F's & B's. Statistically speaking, chances are slim that you’ll be lucky enough to hit that sweet spot.

o    Instead, try starting with your (or your company) unique and interesting value. You might say, "we [state your value proposition]”,  then you have a good shot at gaining your elevator companion's interest. For example, you might say “we're in the business of reducing risk of FDA violations for food manufacturing companies". Hmmm, thinks the VP Quality of Kraft.  Since your prospect is the VP Quality for a major global food manufacturing company, maybe he's interested in a bit more information.

·       Step 2 - Answer the question "Just how do you do that?"

o    Here is where you can introduce your offering and how the features and benefits support the value proposition

o    "By providing environmental monitoring systems with feature and benefit that is unique to the market, our customers see a 40% reduction in FDA violations."

·       Step 3 - Prove it.

o    Here is where you could tell a success story or talk about a major customer and how they use your company’s offering to achieve the value proposition you opened with.

o    Tell how you are unique or different. "We've just launched a patented product that does this and that" or "we're the only company with this technology that ……" We've been in business for 80 years and here's how that may benefit you and your firm…."  State that you are providing this service for a major competitor (must be authentic here).

·       Step 4 - Leave the elevator. If you did well and your elevator mate is indeed one of your ideal prospects, she will not let you go without getting your business card.

Naturally, good and proper message development takes thought and should align with corporate strategy.  In any event, if you can't make a 30 second speech like this one, you should take a hard look at your value proposition.