Cost, quality, customer service and timing:
The four pillars of your value proposition, right? Perhaps not. These are the four things that great industrial companies get right. The problem is that customers expect you to get these things right, each time, all the time. Your customers and your customer’s customers are very demanding. So, what happens when the cost of goods goes up or your delivery is off schedule? Your customers start looking for a new supplier unless you offer something more, something that they can’t get anywhere else. This “something” is called a differentiated value proposition.
So what is a differentiated value proposition?
It’s an articulated and intentionally designed ethos of your organization that transcends your competition. It’s something you do better than anyone else. Your differentiated value proposition may be as simple as you having the best customer service (think Zappos) or the fastest delivery (think Amazon), or it could be that you provide a niche product or service, or specialize in a niche market better than anyone else.
More often than not, a differentiated value proposition is a combination of many things your company does well. And when combined, they provide a value to your customers that they can’t get anywhere else. An example of this is: “We’re confident that customers will consistently buy from us because our company solves <insert customer problem> better than any alternative, due to our extensive geographic footprint, specialization in <insert specific market> and the patented technology we possess. It all ensures we deliver materials faster than anyone else. ”
In the example above we show four unique attributes of the company that, when stated independently, aren’t unique or differentiated. Competitors may have an “extensive geographic footprint” or a similar “market specialization.” However, when you combine these elements with patented technology the combination of attributes provides the company with a unique and differentiated value proposition: fastest delivery.
Proof. Simply stating that you’re the fastest or best, or whatever your differentiated value proposition says, is not enough. You need proof. You must demonstrate that you have the data to support your claims, otherwise your value proposition may fall short.
So, what if you don’t have the attributes or the proof to define a differentiated value proposition?
Get it. It may take months or years to truly differentiate your business, but it’s well worth it. To start defining a differentiated value proposition, take a look at your customers.
Step 1: What do your customers really care about?
Everyone says price when asked this question. However, every company I have ever really pressed with this question always says that they’ve won business in situations where they weren’t the cheapest option. So, there’s more to it than just price. Ask your customers why they chose you and why they continue to do business with you. You’ll find some interesting data. Make a list of why customers choose you and what your customers care about.
Step 2: Where is your market headed?
Think about what your customers will need in three to five years. Can you service this need? What barriers will you face? Which competitors are better positioned and why?
Step 3: Define attributes
Define three to five attributes that your company must have in order to be the best. Processes, technology, geography and expertise are good starting points. Get specific.
Step 4: Identify a market differentiator statement
Using the three steps above, draft a statement that, if achieved, will position your company ahead of any competitor.
Step 5: Proof is in the pudding.
Define proof statements that support your statement. What data do you need to make such claims? If you don’t have the data or the proof, determine how you’ll attain this data in the future.
An example result:“We are confident that customers will buy from us because our company solves <insert customer problem> better than any alternative because...”
- Proof 1:
- Proof 2:
- Proof 3:
By clearly communicating your new value proposition online, you turn more site visitors into leads that are ready for your sales team.