How to Design Your Value Proposition
Last Wednesday I had the pleasure of attending my first Entrepreneurship 101 session at MaRS in Toronto. Free to the public, the Entrepreneurship 101 lecture series covers topics crucial to starting and running a successful business.
Last week’s lecture was led by MaRS Discovery District Education Lead Joseph Wilson and focused on value propositions. As defined by Joseph, a value proposition is a clear statement of unique benefits for a certain group of people. For those crafting a value proposition from scratch, it can help to view it as a hypothesis that your offering will bring certain values to a target customer. There are 3 key components all value propositions should include. Use these 3 points to craft a meaningful value prop for your business.
1. Your Product or Service
A simple, straightforward statement of your product or service.
2. For Whom (Target Customers)
Also very straightforward. However, it’s important to remember that when developing value propositions for your products and services you should develop unique propositions for each unique target customer you want to go after. Some value propositions may translate relatively well between target customers, but as Joseph noted, your value proposition should speak to a specific group or person and thus should be specifically targeted.
Remember, the value or values your products and services provide are separate from its features. From the perspective of VA Partners, our value isn’t that we provide comprehensive sales, marketing, and social media services. Rather, it’s that our services save our customers time while ensuring cost-effective revenue growth. In general and from a B2B perspective, Joseph advocated that important values tend to be quantifiable, rational, and have a clear link to the bottom line (i.e. convenience, customizability, or quality). At VA Partners, we believe B2B value propositions should be rooted in 4 key areas: saving time, saving money, making money, and decreasing risk.
Using the above method to define VA Partners’ value proposition, you get: “Venture Accelerator Partners provides strategic and tactical sales, marketing, and social media services to startups and growing organizations looking for efficient, cost-effective revenue growth.”
After reading this post, I hope you’ll take the time to analyze your company’s value proposition. As explained in the lecture, it’s important to remember that a value proposition isn’t just an elevator pitch (though your elevator pitch should be grounded in your value proposition), a tagline, marketing copy, or a mission statement. It’s much, much more than that. Ultimately, creating a meaningful value proposition is a “translation game” that requires you to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Features don’t matter; satisfying latent or overt customer values does.
What is your company’s value proposition?