For everyone who has ever struggled with identifying a clear, concise, and compelling value proposition, Barry Horwitz shares an article that clarifies the issues and identifies the pitfalls.
In his book, Your Music and People, Derek Sivers addresses a problem faced by musicians: being asked to describe the kind of music they play.
Saying “all kinds,” doesn’t help. That, according to Sivers, is like saying, “I speak all languages.” Nor does claiming to be unique, since all musicians rely on “notes, instruments, beats, or words.”
A better approach, he advises, is to come up with an interesting phrase that will get people thinking. Something like, “We sound like the smell of fresh baked bread.”
Sivers wasn’t talking about “value propositions” per se. But he was making a related point — the way you describe your organization’s work can have a profound impact on both how well you are understood and how long you are remembered.
What is a Value Proposition?
A value proposition is a simple concept (maybe that’s why the really good ones are so rare). One definition I like is:
“A value proposition is a promise of value to be delivered. It’s the primary reason a prospect should buy from you.”
Notice that it is fundamentally based on the customer’s perspective, something that distinguishes it from its sometimes jargony brethren, the vision statement, mission statement, and purpose statement.
What a Value Proposition Is Not…
… full of business or technical jargon — and simply descriptive:
Here’s an example a student submitted to me as stated by the CEO of the startup at which he was interning a few years ago:
[COMPANY] is a SaaS-based technology platform that leading organizations use to design, run, and measure positive impact programs, including, but not limited to, corporate culture, well-being, social impact, and sustainability.
In addition to the excessively formal phrasing (“including, but not limited to”), and the large number of buzzwords, this description is generic; it could be applied to all sorts of organizations serving any number of markets. It may capture how those inside the company think about their offer, but I doubt it connects with prospects, investors, and others on the outside.
… a list of features:
As the old business adage goes, people don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill; they want a quarter-inch hole.
Likewise, people don’t select your product or service because of its features, but because it fulfills a need or solves a problem. Your value proposition should focus on that.
… a tag line:
While it is possible for a tag line to also work as a value proposition, these are the exceptions; in most cases, the two are not the same and serve different purposes.
Key points include:
- The music analogy
- Value propositions for nonprofits
- The tagline value proposition combo
Read the full article, Music that Sounds like Fresh-baked Bread, on HorwitzandCo.com.
Susan Meier shares a recent interview where she explains the importance of humanizing your brand, and steps you can take to make sure your branding reflects your values.
Creativity and strategy: Two words that seem vastly different but oftentimes go hand in hand.
Right and left brains must balance in the world of branding, leveraging intuition and data. And when you have the right branding strategy, you’ll attract your ideal audience, and build their trust in your company.
So how do you keep your branding authentic to you, while also being relevant to your audience?
Listen to Wings today to learn about one inspiring entrepreneur who is on a mission to dispel the myth that creativity and strategy are at odds to help business leaders electrify their work and amplify their impact.
Key points include:
- What it means to “humanize your brand”
- What a brand promise really means to your customers
- Common mistakes people make with their branding strategy
Listen to the full podcast, How to Stay True to Yourself And Be Relevant to Your Customers, on the Wings podcast.
While many companies pay lip service to company values, and many more don’t pay attention past the brand development and marketing stage, Xavier Lederer shares an evergreen post from his company blog that explains why establishing and maintaining core values are integral to a company’s direction, growth, and success.
‘Corporate culture is the only sustainable competitive advantage that is completely within the control of the entrepreneur.’
– David Cummings, Co-founder of Pardot
The #1 thing I wish I had done differently? I wish that I had developed clear core values and that I had used them in my recruiting process, to filter out candidates that didn’t fit our culture,” said the CEO of this consumer good company that went through a roller coaster over the past decade. Ten years ago his company had a lot of traction, their products were flying off the shelves, and they were in a hiring spree. Several years later they hit a number of roadblocks that put them in a tough financial position – and the impact of their toxic employees (these high-performing employees, whose values are not aligned with the company values, and therefore create a bad atmosphere within the team – and, when they are in sales, with clients) became extremely painful.
What are core values?
Core values are a handful of non-negotiable behaviors that everybody in your company lives by. Core values establish and protect the company culture: they are a set of beliefs that define the desirable and the unacceptable behaviors in the company. Core values are not aspirational – these are rules that you actually live by on an everyday basis. As such core values are timeless: they will still be the same in 100 years.
Core values in a company work just like parenting values. I learned this from my grandmother, who single-handedly managed to maintain a steady discipline in her house full of grand children during the summer months
Key points include:
- Why you should care about culture
- How to know you have the right core values
- Clashing values
Read the full article, Core Values, An Anchor To Your Company Culture, on ambrosegrowth.com.
Kaihan Krippendorff provides a framework that can be used to address and adjust the paradigm of your organization.
At Outthinker, we have been tracking a sea change in the idea of a corporation’s shift for two decades. We have witnessed a slow but determined march away from the view that corporations exist to serve shareholders toward one in which corporations recognize they serve many masters: employees, communities, the environment, the world. In our 2012 book, Outthink the Competition, we dedicated an entire chapter to “Be Good,” writing that “there is a shift under way from making money to doing good.”
This “be good” idea has, like all concepts, evolved as it interacts with the ideas and trends of the day. From a fairly paternalistic “big companies should take care of the little people” paradigm, it evolved into adopting the triple bottom line (TBL) framework and a corporate social responsibility (CSR) business model, to supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) framework. Each acronym influenced the name we placed on the swell as “be good” rose to the surface.
Today, we are close to realizing the next evolution of this debate: what is the purpose of a corporation that wishes to endure? If you lead or work within an organization that wants to remain relevant in the next era, you want to quickly grasp what it means to “be good.”
Key points include:
- What the new paradigm is not
- Why missions are not enough
- Removing the roots of the old paradigm
Read the full article, Locking In Good … And Securing The Future Relevance Of Your Organization, on Kaihan.net.