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How clear is your proposition?

January 2020Helen

What do I mean by your proposition? In its simple terms your proposition is who you are, what you do and why people should do business with you. Sounds easy doesn’t it. Surely we know what we do and why they should use you? But you’ll be surprised how many businesses, big and small, confuse their customers with an over complicated proposition. Do you have a clear understanding of what your company does or offers? Of course you do.

But do you know what differentiates your proposition from the competition? OK, that gets harder to communicate and sometimes needs more thought. Many businesses, especially in today’s very competitive environment do not have a clear differentiator and that’s when your proposition is much harder to articulate. You also need to consider what is it your customers really want? That’s sometimes not what you think. For example, people who buy an iPhone are usually not just buying a mobile phone, they’re buying into the whole Apple experience.

Understanding these three things is really key to accurate messaging and getting across a clear proposition to your customers. Getting it wrong is one of the most common mistakes made in marketing and we can all waste alot of our marketing budget, so it’s worth putting time and effort into getting it right. If your proposition isn’t clear you are definitely losing potential customers. If you are not sure whether your proposition is clear or not, here’s a quick test.

Take a look at your website, brochure or campaign leaflet. Now put yourself in your customer’s shoes and ask the question ‘so what?’ How long is your attention held? It is quite scary to think that it only takes 2-3 seconds to lose your customer’s interest, 3 seconds! So if your message isn’t clear, or you are not telling them what they want to hear, it is possible your customers will be going elsewhere.

The most common issue we all make is to try and tell our customers everything. We know we have to talk benefits and not features, but we try to talk about all of the benefits and we forget about the why. The result is a confusing, long winded proposition that is not going to catch your customer’s imagination in just 3 seconds and very often the ‘why’ is too woolly and something other companies offer as well. So how can a customer make an informed decision. Take the ‘so what’ test to find out if your proposition is clear, concise and communicates your differentiation clearly…

Go on, take the ‘so what test’

‘we’re the biggest…’

‘we’re the best…’

‘we’re the first…’

So what? Do your customers really care? If you are constantly telling your customers how good your products and services are, do they believe you? No, as customers we’re much more sophisticated than that. We are always more interested in what your products and services will do for us? ‘What’s in it for me?’ If you start communicating how your products and services can help your customers… by reducing costs, increasing sales, making their lives easier, or maybe helping them ‘to live the dream’ if yours is a premium product… then you are going to create far more interest.

Passing the ‘so what’ test is tough and it means thinking about what your customers want rather than what you want to sell. When describing your business and what you do, we should start with the why. If you get the ‘why’ right, you’ll have a much clearer proposition and see better results.

How to write a B2B value proposition

Hubspot has written some great articles on how to write a good B2B value proposition. They have a five step process

  1. Identify all the benefits your product or service offers.
  2. Describe what makes these benefits valuable.
  3. Now identify what are your customer’s main problems.
  4. Can you match the values you offer to your customer’s problems?
  5. You should end up with a few key differentiators. If you’ve got one, fantastic, you know what you should be pushing and that makes it much easier.

FIG has identified one key differentiator but we also use three others for different sectors.

B2B marketing that gets results – our overall value proposition.

Communicating complex technology, simply – for our technology sector.

Trusted by manufacturers to get things done – for our manufacturing sector.

Shaping industrial brands for future growth – for our industrial sector.

If you need help understanding or communicating your proposition give FIG a call on 01457 857111.

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