Value Proposition: It is the value that you propose to deliver to a potential customer.
What it is not is anything other than the value you propose to deliver to them.
Seems simple enough, doesn’t it?
Apparently it isn’t though. Pretty much every professional you talk to says they know what a value proposition is. Pretty much every professional says something that they think is a value proposition when you ask them for it. When the words come out of their mouth pretty much all of them say something other than a value proposition though…
A Value Proposition is definitely NOT:
- a set of technical or jargon words (e.g. “certified portfolio construction specialist”)
- a recital of qualifications or licensing status (e.g. “I’m a CFP”)
- claims relating to your character (e.g. “honest”, “trustworthy”, “dependable”)
- a slogan of company tagline (e.g. “insurance and investment adviser”)
- product-focussed (e.g. “liability insurance broker”)
- service-focussed (e.g. “we are great at claims time”)
- ….and nor is it a rambling recital of your resume….(e.g. well I’ve been an adviser for 55 years and have worked for 17 companies, and I’ll tell you about each of them….”)
These are the most common responses that I receive when I ask professionals what their value proposition is. Every single one of these answers has a place in a conversation with a customer or a prospect, and arguably every one of them is an essential component of satisfying a prospect that you are indeed a professional worthy of their trust. I say “arguable” as I would argue that it is always a nonsense for a professional to overtly claim they are honest or trustworthy…but then some would argue otherwise.
Regardless of the right or wrong of claiming integrity as a right, how does that translate into something of value to a potential customer? How do qualifications or technical expertise translate into value for a potential customer? How do any of these examples meet the most simple definition of a value proposition?
What is the value they propose to deliver to a potential customer?
Value to a customer is a clearly discernible benefit that they derive from dealing with you. “Honesty” is not a benefit, but protecting their money from theft or fraud is. Providing safe custody of their money is a benefit. Giving a guarantee that all fees will be refunded if you do not deliver on a promise is a benefit.
The benefit that the client receives is the value, and it is that benefit which is the essence of a great value proposition.
If you do happen to find yourself saying one of the many things that every other professional says when someone asks “why should I choose you?” and it is not focussed upon delivering a valuable benefit to a customer, then it is not a value proposition. It might well be a statement of values that you hold, and it might even be a differentiator in your own mind that separates you from a thousand other professionals. You ARE different to 7 billion others on the planet after all. But simply being different does not necessarily make you useful or valuable in a customers mind.
Focus on the end result which is produced for the customer from your attributes or points of difference. It is the end result that the customer gets that is valuable to them, and that is all they (quite rightly) care about.
Articulate that well in your sales and marketing and more potential customers will choose you.