6 Steps to Defining Your Value Proposition from MarketingSherpa

by Michelle McGinnis on Monday, September 26, 2011 in Demand Generation

“If your value proposition isn’t rolling off your lips, you already have a problem.”

That’s how Dr. Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director and CEO of MECLabs, kicked off the MarketingSherpa B2B Summit 2011 today – and appropriately so.

B2B marketing lives or dies based on your value proposition. Nevertheless, it’s often neglected. Fortunately, Dr. McGlaughlin, in his fiery style, provided many value proposition examples as he outlined 6 steps to identifying your value proposition.

1. Frame the Question
The key to any successful value proposition is that the perceived value of what you offer – be it a product, service or just a gated piece of content like a whitepaper – outweighs the perceived cost, McGlaughlin said. Think of it a bit like a Mad Lib that answers this fundamental question: “If I am [a particular prospect] why should I [take this action] rather than [these other actions]?”

To truly stand out, you need to frame this question on three different levels: the prospect level, where you address the needs of the buyer; the product level, where you differentiate what you’re selling; and the process level, where you make clear the value of going through the process, be it a click or a purchase.

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2. Review the Data
“Optimization does not occur on a webpage,” McGlaughlin said. “Optimization occurs in the mind.”

To define your value proposition, you need to understand the environment your ideal buyers live in and their motivations. That means reviewing the data, from both a qualitative and quantitative perspective. Research your competitors’ claims. Track and research buyers’ digital body language. Call them on the phone.

Bottom line: without knowing your prospects’ needs, your value proposition falls flat.

3. Craft Drafts of Your Proposition
Once you have framed the question and researched the buyer, it’s time to start crafting your message. To succeed, you’ll need two claims of exclusivity – you need to be desired and differentiated.

Your value proposition should, in a clear and concise way, should explain why the buyer needs your product, service or offering. And you also need to explain why they can’t get the same level of value from any of your competitors. Both of these need to be backed up with evidence. For instance, if your designing a page to promote your event, you need to prove that your event provides intelligence your ideal buyer can’t get anywhere else – and then prove it with real facts.

4. Measure the Force
The purpose of a value proposition is obvious; convince someone to take a desired action. But is your actual value proposition just as obvious?

You need to measure the force of your value proposition. The best way to do that is to ensure it anticipates the following buyer questions: “How much do I want this?” “Can I get it somewhere else?” “Can I trust their claims?” “What are they actually offering?”

Above all, ensure your value proposition is clear. As McGlaughlin put it, “Clarity trumps persuasion.”

5. Refine Your Messaging
Once you have all the elements together, it’s time to refine the mix. The best way to pursue this process is by amping up the four “force” aspects named above. McGlaughlin introduced a handy matrix where you measure the value proposition based on how it overlaps across the four components. If your messaging has a lot of credibility, but not a lot of clarity, then you should try to refine it. If you value proposition examples answer the question, “How much do I want this?” but not “Can I get it elsewhere?”, you’ll want to see if it can be adjusted.

6. Take the Time to Test
Almost self-explanatory, but worth repeating – like any piece of marketing, you’ll want to test various value proposition examples. The process will help you better understand your buyer personas and refine your messaging all around.

What’s your value proposition? How did you get to it?

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