By the time many B2B organizations realize they need to redefine their brand value, they’re in crisis–new leadership, an acquisition or a competitive threat. Regardless, there’s urgency to get a new message in the market fast. Trouble is, there are no shortcuts to updating a brand’s value proposition.
People want a brand they can believe in, connect with and advocate for
Your value proposition is what you provide the customer for the money they pay you. It’s a financial relationship, but also an emotional one. Developing your brand’s value proposition is the anchor for how customers and prospects connect with you; delivering on a clear value proposition can lead customers to love your brand and advocate on your behalf.
5 critical questions for your value proposition
The thing I love about a well-articulated value proposition is that it provides all of the foundational content needed for telling your brand story. Start by answering these 5 questions:
- Who is our customer? In B2B marketing, understanding the customer is multi-layered. It’s not just the types of companies you’re targeting–e.g., large retailers–but also the roles of your buyers, like VP of Marketing. More important, identify your buyers as individuals by describing their personal needs and aspirations. Consider doing a day-in-the-life map to develop useful buyer profiles.
- What’s the problem we’re solving? Get specific. It’s critical that you address the most important problems that customers have. What’s holding the customer back from achieving their objectives? You need to be able to identify customers’ mission-critical business problems to have an effective value proposition.
- What’s the real benefit customers get? Benefits can be quantifiable, like ROI, or qualitative, like “industry recognition.” Both are really important to your customers. Don’t forget to include institutional as well as personal benefits to the buyer. Throw everything on the wall and look for common themes so that you can anchor on 3 to 4 core benefits.
- What are our distinct product or service features? Get real about the features that are distinctive and important to your buyer. Certain features are necessary to serve your specific market–these are “antes,” and everyone has them. Focus on the features that only you have–those truly unique or different–that are most important to solving your buyers’ problem. List all of your features, then home in on the truly differentiating ones.
- What’s the proof of our value, benefits and features? So often this is where the real truth of your value proposition rests. If you can’t back up a claim of a feature or benefit with proof, then your brand is at risk of being exposed as inauthentic–or worse. Proof can come in many forms and actually should be a source of inspiration for your content strategy. Use proprietary operational data, customer case studies, benchmark studies, product features, analyst reports and the like.
Using the answers to these questions, craft a single value proposition sentence. An example might be: “We help performance-oriented marketers use customer analytics, segmentation and predictive modeling to improve advertising response, conversion and marketing ROI.” Then create individual messages for each of your key benefits and values supported by meaningful proof-points. Finally, validate your new value proposition with customers and internal stakeholders. Sell your vision but be open to adjusting your value proposition based on the feedback you receive from these important advocates. If it doesn’t resonate as true or authentic, make refinements before launching it to the market.