Not all value propositions are created equally


Having taken liberty with a famous document, I contend that not only are vendor’s value propositions not created equally, most miss the mark with their customers.


First let me briefly address the issue of the feature as claims or positioning (often referred to as “speed and feeds”) versus a value propositions.  A features is usually some very tangible characteristic of a product (I consider services a product also- that discussion for another time).  Examples are: 1Mbps, 12 feet tall, four-wheel drive, or wireless access.


Here is where many marketing people get confused.  Taking four- wheel drive as an example, many marketers will say that with four- wheel drive you can drive in the snow, stating this as a value proposition. In fact, this is a benefit of having four-wheel drive, not the value proposition.


Value propositions as the term implies, have some worth or value for the customer.  Major areas of value propositions for an enterprise client include: growing revenues, reducing costs, improving operational efficiencies, increasing share of market or improving customer satisfaction. Thus one must “link” feature to the customer needs or as I like to say, pain points and make them a compelling, focused and specific value proposition.


Back to the four- wheel drive example.  A value proposition for four- wheel drive might be; when driving in the snow, your sales people will always be on time  for their customer calls(improve on time performance by 15 minutes or reduce missed appointments by 1 per day) and thus reduce losing business or impressing the customer that the sales person always makes their appointments on time.


When one considers today’s economic environment, the current customer issues of fear and uncertainty require pointed, accurate value propositions.   Instead of listing the product’s features (speed and feeds), linking the product to pain points is the more effective way to communicate. Along with the linking, know your audience; is it the end user or a partner, because they may have different pain points and thus a different value proposition.


Rather than forcing the customer to pick from list of features to see which applies, communicate how your feature set addresses his/her pain points, accurately and succinctly.  This messaging will lead the customer to say; YES, I want that product or service.



RHL 5/27/09

1 comment to Not all value propositions are created equally

  • Roger Horine

    This is good advice! Reminds me of advertising wisdom from the middle of the last century: buyers don’t want electric drills – they want holes!


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