In search of the elusive Value Proposition

Marketing in a nutshellYour Value Proposition, USP, call it what you will is the thing that gives your customers a reason to buy from you and not a competitor. For some businesses it’s easier to find one than others but whatever sector you are in you need to understand what makes the difference to your customers and base your Value Proposition around that. It isn’t always necessary to change the product or service you sell, though. There are other elements of the Marketing Mix that can be changed or improved.

The hunt for a unique Value Proposition can be a bit like an explorer’s trek. If you’re lucky you might find a stunning destination – or you might find the trek goes on and on without end.

Those of you who are in sectors where differentiation is difficult might start scratching your head over this one. Sometimes it’s really difficult to find something about your product (and in this I include services) that is truly different. Sometimes that’s even dictated by law.

You’re not alone. Finding something truly unique (that is, one of its kind) about your product can be hard, let alone one that you know your customers will really value.

And that is why the Marketing Mix is an important tool in marketing planning.  The Marketing Mix covers a range of things you should think about when developing your marketing plan – and you might find your point of differentiation lies in an element other than in the product or service itself.

Some thoughts…

Pricing – can you develop a new pricing model that will have greater appeal to your market, or to a new market, than your competitors are offering? Stage payments? A subscription model?

Place, or Distribution – is the way you deliver your product different? Can you take your service online? Can you work differently with your sales channels to give you a competitive edge that your customers value?

Promotion – perhaps you can simply stand out by being more distinctive in that way you promote your product. How are you making the most of the emotional connections with your brand? Remember New Coke, as a product, got a big thumbs up in blind tastings but bombed when the new taste wasn’t recognised by fans of the Coca Cola brand – a purely emotion response to the brand.

People – what are the qualities that customers value in your staff? Helpful, knowledgeable, empowered and enthusiastic to help, able to speak Plain English? This could be what it takes for a sale to come your way rather than a competitor’s.

Process – being easy to do business with can be a great way to win and keep business.  What is about the way that your industry works that makes things difficult for customers? Identify and then do something better.

Physical evidence – the things you do to give tangible, visible proof of your service quality. It could be as simple as making the environment you do business in as pleasant as possible.

In truth your Value Proposition, your differentiator, could well be a bundle of benefits valued by your customers – some tangible, some based on emotional connections. If you want to know where it should lie, talk to your customers and discover what really matters to them.

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