The Coronavirus pandemic has all types of organizations reviewing their value proposition. Whether you are a bricks business or a clicks business. Because, interactions between employees, employees with clients and suppliers were all affected.
Traditionally, the value proposition has been about what you “tell” the customer.For example, here are 7 Best Value Proposition examples from WordStream. And a comprehensive academic article by Payne,Frow and Eggert (2017) summarizes academic work in the field.
Since marketing is (only) about customer value, it’s important to look at the idea of value proposition and why and how it can be authentic.
Why your value proposition needs to be authentic
Before the Internet and Social Media you needed to have a team dedicated to dealing with public relations. Others in the organization or value chain were not supposed to talk to the press about the brand. There were a large number of journalists employed by media organizations and ad revenue helped fund a variety of stories. Consumers were interviewed by journalists (eg. doing a holiday gift story) – and those comments could become widely available. But this was very rare. Sometimes journalists would put out expanded stories based out of PR releases ( and PR and journalists were two sides of the same coin). Yes in times of a product recall and health concerns the media would be on top of the story following the “if it bleeds then it leads” principle.
The above scenario has changed radically with social media. Now traditional media considers highly popular or viral🙂 social media posts as important sources of building a story. PR departments may become extinct as the recent announcement by Tesla suggests. Similarly advertising is becoming much more in tune with society’s current priorities. Why? Because it’s very easy to find what’s on everyone’s mind from social media and web analytics. Once brands have a sense about what their target market is thinking- they fall in place with their messaging for the brand.
We believe that the word “proposition” has become misleading. It sort of promotes the USP ( Unique Selling Proposition) idea. USP suggests that you say how you are unique and different from the competitor. Value proposition assumes that it is not essential for the back end value partners to buy in to the value proposition. The value chain partners include the distribution channel like retailers and distributors, the organization and all its employees, suppliers and the supply chain.
So how do you make your value proposition authentic? Here are some thoughts: :
How to make your value proposition authentic
Stay with the value proposition with all stakeholders:Truth is simple but mixed messages to different stakeholders is complicated.As pointed out the value proposition is historically a “pre-sales” kind of thing. In fact, many organization from consulting, factory machinery and complex software projects the value proposition is handled by the pre-sales team. And then there is a different team that implements. Everyone has access to social media. This implies that if there is any mismatch between what the company says and does- you can expect to hear about it. More vocally for negative customer experiences. So it makes sense to stay with the truth of what you are promising your customer. It keeps things simple and if you communicate intensely your employees, suppliers, distributors and other stakeholders will hear you. And they will support you. Everyone understands that the B2C customer pays the bills.
Revisit your value proposition often: The company mission statement tends to be diffuse and generally derived from discussions within the company. It tends to be internally focussed. Everyone feels happy after a mission statement exercise but the customer point of view is not front and center. It’s probably better to have the value proposition guide all operations in every product line. And yes, the value proposition should align with your mission statement.Value propositions at the product line level is a good idea. Because, the same group of suppliers, production, distributors. ad agencies are involved. Thus, if you manufacture and market washing machines, it very unlikely that you would have different ad agencies for each model of washing machine. Also most suppliers of components for all the washing machine product line would be common.
Start and End all meetings with the value proposition for the product line: Whether you are meeting your ad agency, market research agency, production folks, suppliers start with referencing the value proposition for the product line. Why? because it reminds everyone of what you are trying to deliver to the customer. And addressing issues become clearer. If you end all meetings with the value proposition- people are likely to think how well a particular decision supports the customer value proposition.