How to Create Your Value Proposition (Part 1)

How would you describe your business to a potential customer who approaches you on the street? What if you didn’t have much time? What if they were about to walk across the street and ask your number 1 competitor the same question?

The answer, to those of you who had one, should be your value proposition. Every business needs one, and it should be at the core of all your marketing messages.

So how do you create one?

Start by answering the following questions:

  1. What do we do?
  2. What problem do we solve?
  3. What do people love about us?
  4. What makes us different?

The key here is that your value proposition should be unique. It needs to focus on what sets you apart from the competition, not what lumps you together.

Once you have the answers to those questions, write them out. Read through them and try to whittle it down to a few short and powerful lines of text. The goal is that you should be able to hand that message to a prospective customer, and with nothing else, help convince them to purchase from you.

Your unique value proposition is your brand. It’s who you are and why you matter. It’s what you do better than everybody else you compete with, and why your customers buy from you over them.

On Thursday, we’ll follow up with part two of this post, with ideas on how to use your newly created value proposition.

How to Get on Your Competitor’s Nerves

Do you ever wish that your competition was paying attention to what you were doing? Do you wish they saw you as a threat? Do you wish they lost all of their business to you?

I know the answer is yes. We’re all a bit competitive as marketers. Our job is to highlight our brand, product, or service and show people how much better it is than the next best alternative.

Here’s how to get under your competitor’s skin:

  1. Do something they’re not doing. This could be a related service that they are not offering, a way of contacting you that they don’t have, or a variation on your product that they don’t offer yet. It can be anything really, as long as you can sell the value to the customer.

  2. Brag about it. Spend your marketing dollars highlighting this one big difference as soon as it’s ready. Reference your competition by name in ads and posts directing people’s attention to it.

When your competitor announces they are now doing what you’re doing several months or years later, you will already be on to the next thing. And you will have generated some positive buzz amongst potential customers.

Customer Speak: Your New SEO Friend

The other day I was lucky enough to read this blog by Linda Bustos over at Get Elastic. It’s a good read with good ideas about using customer reviews to your advantage.

One piece stuck out to me, the phrase “customer speak”. It got me thinking about SEO, and frankly every other form of marketing, in a whole new way.

Here is an excerpt:

“When reviews are added to a page, they use “customer speak” that other customers also type into search engine (including misspellings and specific problem/solutions, e.g. “socks good for diabetics.”) Make sure your review solution does not use frames that are not crawled by search engines. It can also help your internal site search for synonyms and misspellings you may have missed if you include them in your index.”

As business owners, we tend to see things from one side of the equation. We’re creating something and selling it to others. We know the value, and we have to try to communicate that to someone who does not know its value. So we use words and phrases WE think will get the message across. But do we ever stop to think about what THE CUSTOMER is looking for? Do the two ideas match up perfectly?

When advertising, or trying to attract attention in any way, it’s important to take a step back and figure out what the customer is looking for. Adding customer reviews to your site is a great way to help SEO. Maybe a customer survey, or even a focus group of people who are not your customers, could help you better understand the need you are solving for them, which may help you message yourself that much better.

Food for thought.

Marketing Experience in 5 Easy Steps

Experience. Maybe you have it, maybe you don’t. But if you’re going to base the primary marketing message around it, you’ve got to know how to support it.

Many companies rely on experience to attract new customers. This is popular in the financial industry and education. Experience often means that this company is trustworthy, an important trait for any company that will manage your money or have a large impact on your future well-being. So here are 5 quick things you can do to help get your company’s experience across to the consumer.

Tell Us When You Were Founded

Maybe this is the simplest tip, but too many companies try to push how long they’ve been doing what they do without using the date. That date should be readily available in every piece of literature, every page on your website, every commercial or print ad or billboard. At the New York Institute of Photography, we created a new 100 year logo that we launched on our 100th anniversary.

Tell Us Why it Matters

To some it may be obvious, but to others it may go over their head. If your marketing message centers around experience, explaining why experience matters in the decision to choose your company or a competitor’s will ensure that it gets heard by everyone. New York Life is a company that promotes their long history well, and they use every chance they get to tell you they’re not going anywhere.

Use Testimonials

Testimonials are a great way to show people that you know how to make customers happy. Any company who has been in business for a long time better have some happy customers. Potential customers will want to see how you’ve treated others before signing on with you.

Promote Longtime Clients

Most companies who have a wealth of experience will have clients who they’ve worked with for a long time. If you’re good at what you do, customers will want to stick with you. So tell us about those companies that you’ve had a long relationship with. Share details of the relationship, how you’ve helped them where no one else could, and why they’ve stuck with you this long.

Promote Longtime Leaders

It may sound cheesy, but we naturally associate experience with age. And it can be a successful marketing tool to highlight people who have worked at the company for a long time. An employee’s commitment to a company is almost as impressive as a customer’s. If you’ve got a President, a CEO, or a Manager who has been on the job awhile, it behooves you to share their story.

Bonus: If you’re interested in marketing your experience, or any other aspect of your business, I’m here to help. Use the submission form to tell me about yourself today and I’ll give you the first hour free.