Your value proposition is the distillation of the benefits and value that your company promises to deliver to customers with your products and services, your niche is the segment of the market you best serve. The smaller, the better. It answers the ‘why us’ question and positions your brand clearly in the customers mind.
Last time we learned how to create content for every stage of the customer journey. Now it’s important to look at how to define your value proposition.
Values are the foundation of every company’s identity and personality, whether we are aware of it or not. It’s hard to be consistent though, unless everyone in the business understands and embodies a shared set of values.
How to develop a clear value proposition
- Short, simple statement
- Believable or credible
- Able to state or imply a key benefit to you customer that your values deliver
- Differentiates you from the competition
- Resonates with your company’s personality
It is important to define your value proposition for each target audience or buyer personae. Even if you are selling to other organisations, (business to business), developing ideal customer avatars (ICAs) for each of the internal decision-makers will help you to understand how differently they view the purchase. There may be internal tensions at play, based on the job role or function that each person in the decision making unit (DMU) plays.
One example we use in our workshops and online programme – Content Marketing Conquered – is that of SAAS – software as a service. We use a worked example which looks at the different roles and goals, considering the different perspectives:
- The finance director wants to save every penny, avoiding all unnecessary investment.
- The marketing manager wants access to software that will save time, duplication of effort and improve reporting.
- The CEO wants to steer the company to success and avoid internal conflict.
What happens when you don’t have a clear value proposition
A nationwide software client who were producing lots of product-based content were seeing web traffic and leads decline. Sales were becoming harder to win too, due to the commoditization of branded software. Over the course of six months, we worked with them to turn this trend around.
It wasn’t until we conducted their content audit that we truly ‘hit gold’. They were working hard, but not smart.
Their content audit revealed a lack of brand-focused content (answering the ‘why us’ question) to support the field sales team. After we led a workshop with the marketing team and their customer-facing colleagues, we helped the marketing team to answer the question: ‘why us’. They were then able to plan fresh content to communicate the value proposition and set the brand apart in a very crowded marketplace. If you’re planning to run a content audit for your organisation, check out our online programme – Part 3 contains a toolkit for your content audit.
Each internal ‘buyer’ has a valid opinion.
By developing your value proposition for each buyer (or influencer) you know the key messages you need to communicate to them, to get their buy-in. It’s simple, but it isn’t easy so we dedicated Part 2 of our online programme to the thorny issue of value propositions.
Values are the foundation of every company’s identity and personality. Your value proposition is how you deliver the benefit of your values to your customers.
Your value proposition = how you ‘show up’ for your customers, time and time again.
Value propositions, unique selling propositions (USPs) and market position are totally compatible. It can be a little harder to deliver your value proposition online but consistent messaging and behavior will help you to embed it over time.
Having a strong value proposition is also key to standing out in the marketplace and finding your niche.
Are you ready or able to niche?
There are several ways in which to niche or specialize. Some businesses, over time, will reduce the range of products or services, geographical area they serve, type of customer they serve, value of business they seek. For some it is a full decision and alternatives are gradually retired or discontinued.
For others, it’s more of a spotlight that they shine on a particular type of customer, specific product or service, particular knowledge, industry experience or specialism or minimum spend. You may decide to focus marketing activities to build this niche, yet still offer a wider range or welcome other customer types.
What’s interesting is that although they are limiting the number of potential customers, their conversion rate can increase as can the value of customers.
These goals are not necessarily at odds with each other, until the increase in competition for customers attention reaches a level that is unsustainable, or others in the organisation raise questions about whether this is the best strategy, the best use of time and budget.
“Of course there are always exceptions in business and everyone can point to their favorite “David” beating a Goliath. But the economics of content marketing are straightforward: create lots of great content that can be discovered by customers and potential customers. If you can saturate your market, all the better.” Mark Schaefer
From a content marketing point of view, discovering a niche or specialism that hasn’t experienced content saturation lends the opportunity to ‘get in quick’ and stake your claim.
“…dominating a true niche is the ideal business situation and a legitimate antidote to Content Shock”. Mark Schaefer
Everything changes all of the time. Those of us who have worked in the marketing industry for decades have seen the most change. Much of it is driven by technology, but increasingly it is responding to the consumer. We are finally able to move on from segments, demographics and psychographics to seeing and serving the individual. Shared characteristics have gone beyond age, gender and postcode to beliefs, values and desires. The data are now readily available to confirm or deny our suppositions, stereotypes and hypotheses. What an exciting time to be in marketing.
“In the era of Big Data, all the world’s a lab.” Seth Stephens-Davidowitz *
Since 2009, when I founded Dolezal Consulting, I have discovered content marketing and embedded it into my business. I’ve helped hundreds of clients and trainees embrace content marketing and witness the positive impact on their livelihood and the lives of their customers.
I have concluded that success is built on three pillars:
- Empathy & Customer Insight
- SEO & Targeting
- Content Planning & Distribution
In the quantity versus quality game, you face stiff competition. But the tide is turning on poor quality ‘click bait’ and people are becoming more choosy about what they read, view and share.
There has never been a better time to find your niche, define your value proposition and attract your ideal customers.
* Stephens-Davidowitz, S., 2017, ‘Everybody Lies, what the internet can tell us about who we really are’, Bloomsbury