September 1st, 2009
Sometimes when we think our message is falling on deaf ears, it is. This is part 3 of a series on developing a Unique Value Proposition. When putting the value message together it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the message is about you…what makes you special…what makes you different. If you read the prior two blogs on this topic you can even get that sense from them.
The UVP needs to be about the client or prospect. The ‘Value’ component is for them, it is what is valuable to them. It isn’t enough to say I am the only one that sales widgets with green stripes so I am a unique widget seller. This might make me unique but it may not mean a thing to my prospect. However, what if I can say that green-striped widgets typically create a 40% cost savings. By the way, I am the only one that sells green-striped widgets.
This is better but there is still a problem. If I am the only one saying it will save 40% in cost, my credibility might be in question. Take it a step further and have a client that has actually saved 40% verify that green-striped widgets have in fact saved them 40%. Now it isn’t just my word, there is a client making the claim. This is credibility.
The moral of the story is that uniqueness is great and value is great. It is better when the value can be measured and best when an actual customer will verify the claims. So, a very important part of developing a value statement is to actually talk to customers that have benefited and can speak the same language the prospect speaks.
August 16th, 2009
A good Unique Value Proposition will eliminate the “So What’s.” Let’s just take a super simple look at a UVP.
Unique – To be unique is to be unlike others. If your proposition could be just as easily be said by any of your competitors, it isn’t unique. It must fill a void that others don’t. Maybe you have the highest quality, maybe you combine two services where others only have one, maybe you can deliver quicker, you have broader reach, better warranties, etc. If you can’t honestly claim and fulfill the market in a way others can’t you aren’t unique and you will at best be fighting on equal ground with others for the same piece of the pie.
Value – Having value means that something has worth to someone. A proposition that is unique but has no value, is really just weird and will gain a big “So What!” It is great if it can be measured or quantified. The value should be obvious; but, make sure you tell your clients and prospects what the value is. If you can’t put it into words, how will they be able to?
August 8th, 2009
Are your products or services any different than your competitions? Really? How so?
How long would it take you to explain the differences?
Do your prospects or even your clients know how you’re different?
Do your employees know the difference? Can they explain it?
Does your marketing reinforce it?
How do you measure the difference between your value and that of the competition?
As a prospective client, why would I choose you over the competition?
After a real, honest consideration of these questions you are struggling with answers, you probably don’t have a well-defined Unique Value Proposition (UVP). A UVP is one of the most talked about but underutilized marketing tools. The reason is simple, either a business has no real differentiation or no one has gone through the mental exercise of defining it. Even if the business leader has a clearly defined UVP, it is another challenge to get it into the hearts and minds of others in the business.
The fact that it is difficult and most businesses don’t utilize it is exactly what makes it so effective for those few businesses that do leverage a UVP throughout sales, marketing and customer service. When every aspect of their internal and external communication reinforces the differentiating value they have over the competition, they will stand out and gain an inordinate share of the market.
So, how do you create a UVP? Come back for Part 2.
August 1st, 2009
There is a make or break moment for every new client. It is the moment that someone decides if they are going to invest time, energy, money, etc. with you or your business. Whichever decision is made, that decision reinforces future decisions. If they decided not to move forward, it weakens the chance of them doing it in the future because they will begin to look harder at alternatives. If they move forward, it makes it easier to do it again because they will gain another level of familiarity with you and there will be fewer unknowns in the future. So this make or break moment is critical. Why not make it as easy as possible for them to say yes?
Go to the pool and watch as people arrive. What do most people do (nine and ten year old boys not included)? They stick their toe in the water. Why? They want to know to expect. So why don’t we give them a toe-in-the-water option? Can you think of some kind of transaction or interchange that is the equivalent to the toe in the water? Maybe it is a small transaction with very little money and low risk. Maybe it is a small investment of time and no money. What do you have or what can you do to influence this make or break moment?
July 28th, 2009
There is a make it or break it moment with every new client. It is that time when they decide if they are going to invest any time, energy or money with you or your product. Shouldn’t we try to make it easier for them to say “yes” than “no?” But saying “yes” involves a risk. Saying “yes” to you or your product means saying “no” to someone or something else. It might mean leaving someone or something that wasn’t doing the best job but they did know what to expect. They don’t know what to expect with something new. So, let’s develop risk reduction or removal strategies.
In college I came across a man that owned a horse breeding farm and decided that was where I wanted to work. When I asked for a job, he said he didn’t need anyone. Well, he just didn’t know what he was missing by not having me on staff. I told him I would work for free for the first two weeks then he could decide if he needed anyone. Even though he wasn’t hiring, he now had nothing to lose and everything to gain. Worst case scenario, he would have some free labor for two weeks.
I showed up each day with enthusiasm and something to prove. He let me work both weeks, with overtime and didn’t pay me a dime; but, he did hire me after that. I removed the risk.
How can you remove the risk? Maybe it is a free trial. Maybe it is through a remarkable collection of endorsements. Maybe it’s money back guarantees. Take a look at the transaction from the customer’s perspective and remove their risk. You take all the risk. Then you’ll have a better chance of a “Make It” moment.
July 26th, 2009
There is a make it or break it moment with every new client. It is that moment when they decide if they are going to invest time, energy or money with you or your business. Wouldn’t you like to make it harder for them to say “Yes” than “No”? I went to a college with a strict policy that single students must live in the dorms. One semester I got a job on a horse breeding farm that required me to work before and after class. I had the opportunity to live on-site in a travel trailer. The college officials were not understanding so one day I went to the President’s office and asked if I could meet with him. Of course, he wasn’t available and wouldn’t be available. “No problem,” I said, “I’ll wait.” I had my homework with me and I camped out in his waiting room, ready to stay the day. He had to come out at some point.
Now, this isn’t exactly what I mean by making it harder for prospects to say, “No” than “Yes;” but, the tenacity and creativity behind the approach is what I mean. Clients have choices, you know that your product or service is the right one, they just don’t know yet. You must get their attention or trust long enough to prove it to them. Put yourself in their shoes. What might they be afraid of or risking to go with your product or service? Do they understand the service? Are there other choices they have already used? Are you the unknown? Is it a large investment? Will they lose something else if they choose you?
Whatever their risk, they may or may not be able to articulate it. If you will identify their feelings and articulate them in advance, you can help them deal with these feelings. Get them out in the open, take them from being undefined, emotions and deal with them logically and intellectually. Give the right assurances.
When I did get to visit with the college President after about a three hour wait, I told him why I needed to stay off campus. Assured him that it would make it easier for me to complete my studies and my work and told him I would still be paying for the dorm since my other place was free (that was probably the trick). When he got the right assurance, he was happy to let me stay off campus.
July 22nd, 2009
The TOW missile system is an armor piercing, wire-guided missile. It has a 4.5km wire spooling as it flies. The gunner guides the missile via the wire to its target. This technology enables a team to stay very mobile while firing heavy artillery at other moving targets.
We need more of this, especially in today’s environment in our businesses. My previous post discussed the value of analysis, knowing, not guessing, the critical business factors. Assuming there is a good source of updated information, it must be acted upon. Sometimes you need to pull the trigger and aim as you go. If you see an opportunity, dive on it, don’t get paralysis by analysis.
I have recently visited with people that are becoming increasingly anxious about the viability of their business. They are going into a retrenchment mode and I can see the creativity, the spark and the opportunities wilting before my very eyes.
But, this is the time to be more alert, looking for a crack in the window of opportunity, ready to dive through and make adjustments as you go. I am not talking about being careless, just aggressive. Roll up your sleeves, get in the middle of the action and chase your target light a cheetah chasing a gazelle.
July 16th, 2009
Did you ever want something so badly that you justified it to yourself with multiple contrived points. I see it happen when someone decides they “need” a new car or figure out a way to justify that wide screen TV. I see the same kind of thing happen when talking to business owners. When I begin asking about critical success factors such as: what are your sources of clients, how much profit does each product yield, what is the average sales cycle, etc., I will get answers that they either think are true or want to be true. Too often I learn that they do not actually know these facts. This is either because that don’t take the time to know or they don’t know how to figure it out.
It is important that an owner know these kinds of things about their business and that they are aware of it continuously. Only when you have the facts can you develop the best business growth strategy. It helps you know where to spend your time, money and other resources. It helps you know what new things you want to try or when to do more or less of something.
July 13th, 2009
Each industry has its own traditional sources of revenue. A sales team might be a source, the internet, a retail location, radio ads, etc. Developing the right sources means optimizing each source so that it is as efficient and profitable as possible and innovating to open up sources that the competition isn’t utilizing.
A simple example of optimization is with email marketing. When sending out an email advertisement, you want to achieve the greatest pull possible. It is essential to apply techniques to get the email to the right people, get more of the right people reading it and most importantly, acting on it?
Innovation is creating an effective revenue source that isn’t currently being used. Maybe a restaurateur devises a clever way to use twitter to drive traffic to the restaurant during slow periods or a unique web strategy pulls in a whole new crowd.
Developing growth strategies is just like fishing. If you put one line in the water you have a chance to catch something. If you put two dozen lines in, you have a much higher chance of catching fish.