One of the biggest mistakes start-ups make is to be so focussed on their amazing idea or great product, they fail to stop and consider if their customers will find it just as desirable. Or worse, their own conviction makes them dismiss this as inevitable. Sadly, here is nothing inevitable about it. Without creating a value proposition that has people shouting out for your services, your business will not succeed.
So what is a value proposition really? Put simply it is the benefit from buying from you and what you offer that makes you stand out uniquely. So it is absolutely all about your customer and what their needs are.
Watching Dragons Den, we have all seen many hopefuls fall down on this point. We hear Dragons breaking the news, gently or not, that there is no problem, or very few people have it, or what problem there is, is not worth solving.
If it is no big deal to live with the problem, finding a solution really isn’t that attractive. Some invented solutions are simply so complex, they take longer to learn or carry out than the problem will ever merit. In addition, the problem has to be enough to get people stirred up, and ideally have major consequences if they fail to solve it. The more urgent the solution is needed, the stronger the market need.
This applies right across the board, in creating solutions for business or personal problems. Never forget the old adage that people buy to make themselves feel good or to stop themselves feeling bad, because therein you identify their problems. Only once you have identified the need, the problems, can you see if you have something unique about you and, or, the way you can solve it, which is what makes you stand out from the crowd.
Many people I teach struggle with the concept of value. Value lies in the degree of problem, the urgency of the problem. It lies in something new, something that will give the buyer an edge that others can’t. And it also lies in tapping in and understanding what makes the customer tick, which will be both commonalities both product and market as well as individual things with apply to the individual buyer.
The better you understand your customer, the more you will be able to do it. You will understand not just their problem, but what their current suppliers are failing to provide. It could be service, quality, novelty, workability, uniqueness, or any manner of things. By putting yourself in your customers’ shoes and seeing the problem from their point of view, you start to understand what is of value for them.
You know what they say about assumption. Yet many people fear asking their customers, or indeed potential customers, to discuss their views of you, your offering, the market, the competitors. Yet this can hold the key to success. People are surprisingly receptive to being asked to talk about their own likes and dislikes. It is hugely revealing to hear how you compare to the competition in the customer’s eyes. You may be convinced that x is your great strength when your customers are crazy about you for z.
When you have absolutely identified the “why” they should buy from you, you need to be encapsulated in a few words that really gets to the essence of the benefits to the potential customer, as in what the actually want and value.
Love them or hate them, one of the best examples of a company that nailed its value proposition has to be Uber. They sum it up in “Get there: Your day belongs to you”. This is brilliant on so many levels. You can see the problem; the customer needs to go somewhere and is fed up with unreliable travel offered by the competition. You can see the uniqueness which is all tied up in the words “you” and “your”. Further down their home page, they separate it: “the easiest way around; anytime and anywhere; low-cost to luxury”. All three add up to their way of offering “Your day belongs to you”.
Your value proposition should sum up everything about you, what you do and why someone should buy from you. It should include the solution to their problem, your unique win over the competition. It is the summary of your success.