To be honest, without ammunition, the Vikings actually would not have had a hope. For a start, Brian and his gang of Celts, would not have known what the machine guns were, and secondly, the Vikings would not have had any other weapons to combat the fury of the zealous Celts. It is vital that you have ammunition for your machine guns! Your Value Proposition, expressed in terms that your customer understands, is what gives your marketing the firepower required to get results. Without the right message, no-one will understand what you really stand for! Creating your Value Proposition So how do you go about creating your unique value proposition? First it is vital that you are disciplined, and you have to hand the following material. * A list of all customers * For each customer you need to identify * What they bought * A testimonial and/or value statement from those customers * Where they are geographically based * The industry they are in * Their size and turnover * A list of your competitors and information on their products. * An industry specific magazine that your best customers would read * A print-out of the Mission statement of your best 5 customers We run ˝ day and full day workshops on this, using tried and tested questions to get you really thinking about what your offerings provide. However you can try do this yourself, if you budget is limited. Which ever category you fall in, I suggest, that to avoid firing blanks with your marketing budget, you undertake this exercise, and start getting the results you deserve. Step 1 - Know your customers To really be able to market successfully, and by successfully, I mean getting qualified leads that turn into sales, you must relate to your prospects. If you already have customers, then they must like what you are offering. But what was it about your offering that made them buy? Ask them! You need to be able to identify their * Needs – what need in their business or life are you fulfilling? * Wants – What do they really want, because a lot of purchases are based on wants not needs – I mean who NEEDS a Porsche? * Pains – what pain do they currently have that ownership of your product will ease or cure? Because when you know those, then you know WHY they bought, and subsequently, it will be easier to ensure you have more customers. Step 2 - Know your product Successful business people all share a common trait; they are passionate about their offerings and they are persistent in ensuring it successful. So you know your product inside out. Agreed, you may not see it precisely as your customer sees it, but you do know it! So you must identify the top ten benefits of your product. Use the checklist below as a prompter. * Service * Price * Uniqueness * Revenue generation * Cost reduction * Compliance with regulations * Fulfilling a desire * Better way of doing things * Proximity to customers * Adherence to standards * Now map each of these benefits to your customer's needs, wants and pains. Step 3 - Know your target market So you know what your customers want and what you can give them. But who are your customers? There are many ways of finding out your target market, indeed books have been written on it. The best way is to use data that is available to you, such as; Existing customer Data Market research you may have conducted or bought Who Influences, decides on and pays for your product. You need to target your message specifically to the right people. And different people within the decision process will want different things! Finally, you need to determine on how to extend your target market, from your existing customer base, using factors such as; * Location * Industry * Products * Customer Profile Step 4 - Know your competitors There is an old saying that goes – “keeps your friends close and your enemy closer” It is imperative that you know precisely what your competitors are offering. You need to know what they offer, at what price, to whom and where. You also should understand what it is about your competitors that your prospects like, and what they dislike. Once you understand this, then you need to clearly differentiate, your top customer aligned benefits, from your competitor's benefits. Step 5 - Create a value statement for your top 3 benefits including; This can be the most difficult step, since many people find it difficult to put their thoughts into words. With a clearly defined Customer Value Proposition Statement, your prospects will be able to clearly identify the benefits, in their terms, to enable them to make a buying decision. If you feel you can do this, you should be sure to include the following 4 items in the Value Statement for each of your offerings and niches. * Time to benefit * Value of benefit * Benefit * Target Audience Conclusion Once you have your Value Proposition, clearly defined in a couple of concise statements, you can then start looking at your marketing plan and Budget. Quite simply, in my opinion, spending any money on marketing, without the correct message, is like attacking the high king of Ireland without viable weapons.