Developing -- and using your Value Proposition to best effect
FOUR STEPS TO A SUCCESSFUL VALUE PROPOSITION
Step 1: Identify your top two or three markets and prospect groups -- the few who can generate the greatest revenue for the least amount of effort and expense. By limiting your list to these top prospects, you'll keep focused on the relatively few users who can account for most all your sales -- plus you'll be able to craft a stronger, more cogent message by concentrating on the wants and needs that are considered to be most important to these key prospects. This not only helps to optimize sales effectiveness and reduce costs, it helps reduce design and production expenses because you'll stay focused on what's really important to your key prospects.
Step2: Once you've determined the wants and needs of your top prospects, evaluate your ability to satisfy those wants and needs in relation to your competition. Then determine your major selling points (benefits supported by features). Prioritize these proven and demonstrable strengths according to their importance to your prospects.
Always remember: A highly important customer benefit in which you have marginal superiority -- but are still superior -- will likely generate more sales than a benefit where you dominate the competition, but is less important to your prospects.
Step3: Once you've done all this your now prepared to develop your short, convincing Value Proposition. This statement may change depending upon the prospect you're trying to sell. For example: Managers may be better persuaded by return on investment (ROI) data, while Product Designers may be better persuaded by ease of use, or better design capabilities.
Step 4:When the statements have been polished to perfection, circulate them among Sales and Management to get buy-in from all parties. Once you've got agreement, use it everywhere you can: Mission Statements, Elevator Pitches, Advertising, Publicity, Websites, and sales materials of all types. A truly effective Value Proposition requires a lot of thought and understanding of the market and prospects, but its worth the effort because once it's perfected everything else comes easy -- including Branding programs.
BRANDING: 70% MARKET ANALYSIS, STRATEGY AND PLANNING
Although the concept behind Branding is simple and it makes many business execs feel important to talk about it, effective execution is far from easy. To develop an effective Branding program you must use as much market research as you can, including Analytics gleaned from SEO and Social Media, to determine:
1. What markets and market segments can most benefit from the products and services you offer.
2. Identify the top two or three segments, those that account for the bulk of all sales.
3. Identify the wants and needs of those key prospects and determine how well you satisfy them vs. your competitors. Assuming you excel in certain areas, make sure the areas where you are superior are at least as important -- if not more so -- to your prospects as those where your competitors excel.
4. What concise (25 words or less) and readily understood message best conveys your ability to satisfy the highly important wants and needs where you excel?
5. How will you effectively convey this message to your prospects?
6. What available media will you use, including SEO and Social Media? Can you get by with a minimal investment using just the Internet? Lots of firms think they can and many of them are disappointed. You may want to publicize and promote your offering through niche publications, broadcast media, direct mail, or trade shows.
7. None of this is inexpensive so how much will it cost? Can you afford to do it as often as it takes to make your message register effectively?
8. Can you afford to do it over an extended period of time?
Branding is hard. Branding is costly. Branding is forever. Branding must be a total company commitment to giving customers everything they expect from a superior, committed organization.
Branding is every public thing you do: Branding is more than just the obvious like ads and publicity, your website, your brochures and newsletters, and the media that carry your message -- including Social Media. Branding also includes:
* Product quality, packaging and Users manuals
* Your Supply Chain and speedy, on-time delivery
* Customer Service in all its forms -- with special emphasis on Prompt, Courteous Response to Needs & Requests
* Your Website and letterhead
* The letters themselves, including proper grammar and spelling
* Sales presentations and sales materials
* Your salespeople, receptionist, and all employees who have customer contact
There's more, but you get the point.
BRANDING: 30% CREATIVE EXECUTION
The technique for developing effective sales messages is as tried and true as the opera AIDA:
They're the four essentials to any effective sales message whether it's ads, direct mail, publicity -- anything except websites, and brochures that is. With websites and brochuresyou already have gained the prospect's attention. That's something too many designers forget, and by forgetting make them too gimmicky and hard to navigate or read easily.
1. Attention: Grab the prospects with a strong visual and interesting headline -- one that supports or relates to your product or service.
2. Interest: Intrigue the prospects with a strong, short message that highlights the benefits you offer, and tells them how you do it in a way that's better than the competition -- without slamming the competition. Make sure those benefits meet the top wants and needs of the targeted prospects.
3. Desire: Entice the prospects with added reasons why they should want your offering now or in the near future.
4. Ask the prospects to do something positive. Buy it. Try it. Visit your website or place of business. Attend a trade show. Anything, but exhort them to take some action. The great majority of the time you'll get what Marketing Communication folks like to call "leads," but the salespeople tend to call them a waste of time. This leads us to:
PROSPECT IDENTIFICATION,QUALIFICATION& DEVELOPMENT
While I've referred favorably to the Golden Age of Marketing before, it still had its problems: Prospect Identification, Qualification and Development have always been -- and continue to be -- problem areas that only a small fraction of companies deal with successfully. Today, there's a heavy emphasis on clicks and downloads via the Internet. Yesterday it was inquiries in the form of requests for more information as a result of a company's promotional efforts via the printed and spoken word.
Earlier, we discussed the many activities needed for effective Branding and inquiry generation among your prospects. Neither Branding nor Inquiry Qualification & Development is easy, and both require much time, talent, money and dedication to do them properly. There are reasons for this:
a) Marketing Communications believes every inquiry they getis golden and should get prompt follow up by Sales.
b) SEO practioners believe their clicks and downloads are just as important -- or more so because of the immediacy of the Internet.
c) Both departments are sure their inquiries have value and believe they should be acted upon before competition can get into the act.
The truth is none of this is true, and today's belief that clicks have lots of value is a pipe dream. Clicks have the same value as someone reading or looking at your ad, but lacking a want or need so the don't take further action. Don't get me wrong: they do have some value. They add to your brand awareness, and that's something. But it's not sufficient reason to expect the salespeople to turn handsprings.
The truth be told, less than ten percent of clicks and inquiries result in someone making a purchase for that product, whether it be your brand or a competitors. There are several reasons for this: People are collecting information for a possible or probable purchase. People have already decided on a brand, but are building a dossier to justify their purchase decision. People are anticipating a future need and planning for the future,
A study was conducted several years ago and it found that:
a) Only 40% of purchases were made within six months of a request for information
b) 30% of the people who requested information made a purchase some time between six months and a year
c) the remaining 30% didn't purchase for more than a year after requesting information
For all these reasons its understandable that the sales force doesn't turn handsprings when someone hands them a fistful of leads.
Back when I was a Publisher for four Manufacturing Management magazines, of the hundreds of advertisers I had only two -- count 'em two -- followed up each and every inquiry with a personal call to the inquirer to determine whether was serious interest or not. Both companies were foreign -- in fact both were Israeli. In all the years I've spent in the business I know of no other way to effectively qualify leads. You have to have someone make the call -- Customer Service or a Sales Trainee. There are no simple answers, just hard, boring follow up by a human -- not a computer.