“How often do you change your value statement . . . AKA . . . your ‘Elevator Pitch’?”

I ask that of people I meet with in workshops and in passing conversations.  Those who say they “rarely change” fall into 1 of 2 camps:

  1. they’ve not given the subject a lot of thought, or
  2. they’ve found something that works and they’re not going to ‘fix what ain’t broken’

But most of the time I hear, “I’m always changing it — when I find one I like, I’ll let you know!”.

The Search for a Good Elevator Pitch Never Ends

While I’m all for having a short, targeted statement that resonates with someone who may find the value proposition you offer is of interest, it’s just a the ‘first move’ in a larger game of marketing ‘chess’.

It may help you capture the attention of a potential prospect, but it’s not going to close a sale. In fact, there’s a long way between your ‘opening gambit’ and the ‘checkmate’ move that ends the game!

What you may want to give as much (if not more!) thought to is what is your value proposition?  That’s not necessarily something that fits the one-size-fits-all approach, nor is it something that you can give out as quickly and easily as an elevator pitch.

Your Value Proposition Is Not Your Elevator Pitch

If your elevator pitch is useful in ‘opening the game’ — like a good serve in tennis or a solid drive off the tee, your value proposition is what sustains the game to a decisive conclusion.

Your value proposition is the ultimate basis for a qualified prospect making a decision to do business with you.  Or, not.  The latter being true if you’re not a good fit for one another.

How Your Value Proposition and Elevator Pitch Differ

An effective elevator pitch must answer two questions:

  1. “Are you relevant . . . to me?”
  2. “What benefit will I enjoy . . . as a result of working with you?”

The relevance issue . . .
is easily addressed by defining or communicating WHO . . . is your ideal client.  One of my clients likes to say, “I work with business owners who are 55 years old or older . . .”.  That’s pretty clear and, I can tell you from her feedback, it’s pretty effective in quickly engaging the attention and interest (or, curiosity) of people who are over 55 and own a closely-held business.

The benefit issue . . .
is easily addressed by pointing out, in a very tangible way, what someone stands to gain (or, avoid losing) as a result of using the problem-solving expertise, products and/or services of the person who’s answering the questions, “What DO you do?”  Another client describes the beneficial difference he makes in a client’s life this way: “I help my clients achieve their 5 year plan goals in 3 years or less”.  Again, a measurable outcome he offers as a meaningful benefit that attracts the attention and  engages the interest of someone he’s just met.

If your elevator pitch is a one-size-fits-all statement of WHO and WHY, your value proposition is more of a custom-tailored response that perfectly addresses the questions:

  1. “Why You?” and
  2. “Why Not?”

Why YOU? . . .
The fancy-schmancy marketing term this suggests is ‘positioning’ or ‘differentiating’.

It goes to the issue that, all other things being equal, what makes you the preferred provider of the beneficial solution to the problem that you used your elevator pitch to capture my attention back when we first met?

If you’re no different — or, better — than other providers of the solution I may (now) be interested in . . . any competitor with a clear and compelling reason to chose them over you could . . . beat you out at the box-office.  So you’d best find out why you’re not only different but better than the alternatives.

Why NOT? . . .
In sales, there’s an old adage that says, “A decision to do nothing, is still a decision”.  I’d argue it’s the default decision that each of us must assume when talking with a prospective client.  They’ve been doing something before we showed up and they may feel that’s good enough UNLESS . . . they learn of a compelling reason to do something different.

This raises the issue of ‘risk’.  No one likes to make a mistake.  So they make a decision to do no thing that will change their situation — for the better or, the worse.  It’s a big reason behind why people don’t take actions that could, potentially, benefit them.

You probably hear of many people who didn’t jump back into the stock market after the big crash in 2008 out of fear of getting ______’ed again.  But they lost out on the recovery, too.

You’ll need to manage the risk of action vs. inaction in the value proposition you offer someone or they may just decide to ‘stay put’.  And that, for both of you, may be more costly than either of you like.

The 3 Keys . . . To a Successful Value Proposition

If you want to build a value proposition that will move people to make a decision about working with you, consider what you must address with whatever and however you communicate it . . .

Interest . . . you must focus your prospect’s attention on WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?).  Everyone has more choices for investing their time and money than they have time and money to invest.  Unless you’re talking about what your prospect cares about, you’ll be talking to yourself before too long!  So focus on the benefit you offer and hit it . . . hard and quickly.

Competitive Position . . . despite what your mother told you, you are not the only game in town.  You have competition.  You know it.  Your prospects know it, too.  So embrace the obvious.  The ‘elephant’ in the room. How?  By acknowledging your prospects’ alternatives to you.  Reference your competitors and position who you are, what you offer and how you’re better . . . relative to your alleged competitors.

Avis rental cars claimed, “We’re #2, we (have to) try harder”.  By adopting that position, they re-positioned the #1 car rental company (Hertz) very effectively . . . “They’re #1 . . . they don’t have to . . . (give a _ _ _ _!)”.

Credibility . . . prospects are not clients (yet) because they’re already doing some thing else!  Think about it.  They are already doing some-thing by simply doing no-thing . . . with you or anyone else in your field!  A decision to do nothing is still a decision to do something . . . to maintain their status quo.  Why do people do this?

Life coaches Walt Hampton and Ann Sheybani teach that the desire to avoid possible pain is, for most of us, more powerful than the desire to make changes that may lead to greater gain.  We may want to ‘steal 2nd base’ but we know keeping our foot on first base won’t get us tossed out of the game.

Never mind that doing no-thing may be more costly than some-thing you may be suggesting.  We don’t make changes easily until we believe the cost of doing nothing (different) poses a greater risk of loss than the benefit we may gain by doing something new, different, and . . . possibly better.

Your value proposition must address these three issues — interest, position and credibility. How?  Often with client testimonials that your prospect can relate to as credible parties whose situation was similar to what their’s is now and whose outcomes were more promising to seek than maintain the status quo they’re living with now.

POINT:
Your Elevator Pitch can start the game, but a solid Value Proposition can close the sale for you

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package

Constructing Your (Intangible Service) Package

Today, we’re going to delve into what packaging your service really demands. It may help if you keep  “The Pure Powder Skiing Escape” from the 1/8/2013 post in mind as we do this.

Building Your Package . . . Steps 3 – 4 of 9

In this post, I’m going to explain Steps 3 and 4 of the 9 steps shared in part 3.  With these insights, creating a ‘package’ for your service will become much much easier!

Step 3:  IDENTIFY . . . Specific PAIN/s of Your Ideal Client
As important as it is to have an ULTIMATE benefit or goal in mind, in this step you drill down a bit more and get a lot more specific about what issues, frustrations, concerns, irritations, etc. your service package might address.

When you consider your Ideal Client (remember, “Harry”?) you’ll quickly realize that he or she may want a ‘big’ beneficial outcome from you but that may require achieving several smaller component goals.  For example, a financial planner’s client may want to ‘retire with an income that supports a decent lifestyle’.  But making that bigger goal possible may require more specific goals to happen.  Such as:

•  Having a guaranteed income in the event a client is unable to work
•  Avoiding the catastrophic loss a long-term illness suggests
•  Tax planning to legally reduce taxes and maximize income
•  etc. etc.

Each of these ‘component’ goals suggest different ‘packages’ of applied expertise that, in total, contribute to producing the ultimate benefit a client desires — to retire with sufficient income to support a decent lifestyle.

POINT:
Build a package for EACH specific outcome that a client wants from you.

Step 4:  REFINE . . . Your BENEFIT for Specific Groups of Your Ideal Clients
In step 3 (above) you saw how an ‘ultimate’ benefit is actually made up of one or more ‘supporting’ benefits.  But when you consider specifically WHO you’re seeking to attract with your package, you’ll begin to see how each group of clients wants to enjoy your ultimate benefit . . . in their own unique way.

Remember the “Pure Powder Skiing Escape”?  That’s a specific package for a specific type of client — the corporate traveler who wants a ‘civilian’ holiday where skiing is the ‘main event’.

While the same level of amenities is still desired by the travel agency’s business traveler client, this package addresses how this same client wants to get away from it all on their vacation vs. a business trip.  If you go back and review what this business-traveler-on-vacation package offers, you’ll see it’s specific in WHAT it does but is still mindful of WHO is going to get to enjoy it.

In this step, you want to consider your Ideal Client and the Ultimate Benefit they want but . . . choose a specific benefit that contributes to that ultimate benefit and build your package to provide that outcome or result for your client.

POINT:
Every package is built to produce a specific benefit that contributes to and is supportive of the ultimate benefit a client is seeking from you and your problem-solving expertise.

Don’t want to wait?  Download the full Special Report . . . NOW!

package

Constructing Your (Intangible Service) Package

Today, we’re going to delve into what it packaging your service really demands. It may help if you keep  “The Pure Powder Skiing Escape” from the 1/8/2013 post in mind as we do this.

Building Your Package . . . Step by Step

In this post, I’m going to explain the first 2 of the 9 steps shared in part 3.  With this insight, creating a ‘package’ for your service will become much much easier!

Step 1:  DEFINE . . . your CORE BENEFIT
Everything you do should be a harmonic reflection of your business’ purpose — as your clients would describe it.  And your package is simply a ‘bundle’ of elements that produce that beneficial difference in a client’s life.  If you start out with the ‘end’ clearly in mind, then the components that lead someone to that destination become equally clear to you.

Take McDonald’s Happy Meal as an example.  That’s a ‘package’ in every sense of the word. Burger.  Fries (or, fruit!), drink and toy (God forbid they forget to put the toy in the bag, eh?).

Parents buy Happy Meals (not kids).  So what is the real benefit a McDonald’s Happy Meal gives a parent?  According to what I can tell, it’s “7 minutes”.  Huh?  Well, think about it.  A parent buys a Happy Meal . . . so they’ll get “7 minutes” to wolf down their own food before their kid drags them outside to the play in the playscape.

POINT:
Start by focusing on the Big Picture / end result / ultimate benefit . . . it makes building your package a breeze (well, relatively so!).

Step 2:  REVIEW . . . Your RECENT CLIENTS
In marketing, it’s often helpful to use a ‘personna’ or ‘avatar’ — a mental construct that embodies or represents the essential qualities of your ‘Ideal Client’ — to write to, speak to . . . when you’re seeking to communicate effectively with your clients.  

For example, allow me to introduce you to “Harry”.  Harry is a client personna constructed out of the collective experiences of many different clients.  He’s the owner of a company that employs 28 people.  Harry’s clients are ‘significantly above average’ in terms of their total household income.  Harry’s company offers a variety of services to these people. He’s got a lot of competitors to contend with on any given day.  Which doesn’t make Harry too happy.  Why?  Well, lately, his margins have been squeezed a bit because . . . (you getting the idea?).

You want to create a ‘Harry’ (or, Harriet) for your business.  It helps you focus on WHO it is you’re building this package for in the first place!  Your package should contain ‘everything ‘Harry’ wants or needs and nothing he doesn’t’.  But if you don’t know who it is you’re building a package for . . . you’re likely to get it wrong.  You may include ‘nice but not critical’ stuff.  Or worse, you may (inadvertently of course!) omit something critical to Harry’s enjoying the benefit he’s buying your package to create and enjoy.

POINT:
Build a marketing personna or avatar based on your best and most recent clients.  Keeping your ‘Harry’ in mind as you build your package will make sure it’s attractive AND effective!

Don’t want to wait?  Download the full Special Report . . . NOW!

package

Constructing Your (Intangible Service) Package

Today, we’re going to PRE-view what must go into an effective package. It may help if you keep  “The Pure Powder Skiing Escape” from the 1/8/2013 post in mind as we do this.

 

9 Key Steps in Creating Your Intangible Service Package

As you build packages for your services, it becomes easier and easier (I’m NOT kidding — trust me!).

Why?  Simple.  You begin to see the structure of ANY package whenever you decide to promote a service.

We’ll go through each element, in detail, but first . . . let’s list ALL the elements at once . . . THEN . . . we’ll come back and explain each one for you.  OK?

The nine (9) step PROCESS you’ll  use to create your intangible service package is:

1.  Define your . . . core benefit or ‘Mission’ (if you haven’t done so before!)

2.  Review your . . .  most recent clients

3.  Identify the specific PAIN of each group / sub-group of recent clients

4.  Refine your core benefit as the ‘ideal Client’ for this service sees it

5.  Choose the essential elements needed to deliver your service

6.  Choose the optional elements that may enhance the delivery of your service

7.  Seek feedback from prospective clients and fine-tune your package

8.  Add in any ‘missing’ elements that your clients’ feedback suggested

9.  Name your package with a distinctive and attractive name

That may sound like a LOT to do . . . and, maybe it is.  But remember this — it’s very do-able.  And, with practice, it’s easier and easier to do!

To recap this PART 3 on Packaging Your Services:  

•  a ‘package’ has a specific ‘formula’ like a recipe

•  a ‘package’ is built by following a 9 step process

•  a ‘package’ makes it easier to buy what you offer

In PART 4, we’ll explain what’s implied by each step in the 9 step process outlined above.

Don’t want to wait?  Download the full Special Report . . . NOW!

package

What is a ‘Package’ . . . Really?

Unlike packaging for a tangible product — think ‘Book Cover’, the package for your intangible service is totally different.  It’s not some container into which you pour your service, it’s not an image you use to promote your service and it’s not a set of ten (10) cassettes in which your service can be sold.

So, what is it?  Good question.  Here’s a good example to show what I mean:

“The Pure Powder Skiing Escape”

If you’re a serious skier who’s tired of the crowded, packed powder runs of New England and you yearn to ski in the wide open spaces . . . one day you make a decision to visit your friendly old travel agent.  Once you’ve told her about your disappointment with the heavy crowds and the packed powder problems you’ve had skiing in New England, you hear, “I’ve got exactly what you want –– The Pure Powder Skiing Escape!  (feeling excited already?)

It’s seven days of deep powder, no crowds, no phones, no fax machines, no kids (your option) and no demands on you except to have a great time!  We’re talking Utah here — where the powder is deep, the crowds are gone and the people are great.

The Pure Powder Skiing Escape includes your airfare, hotel, and all lifts.  You can stay at any one of six lodges and ski any day at any of three top-rated ski areas.  Or, for an extra $450 you can have a 3 bedroom, fully furnished condo that’s just a 5 minute walk to the base lodge or the tri-area transportation bus station.

I can also include a meal plan that provides a hearty breakfast and dinner each day if you wish.  Sound good or would you like the option of exploring the local restaurants on your own?  (Yeah, I thought you would, too.)

To get around the area we include a mid-size rental car with free mileage; an upgrade to a full-size luxury car is just $85 more. If you like we can include some optional activities: ski lessons: group or private as well as horseback riding or snowmobiling day trips in the high country.  Not for you, huh?  (I understand . . . been there / done that.  I get it!)

Now you can leave any day Monday through Friday. And, we include without charge, door-to-door limo service and all ground transportation in Utah.  Naturally, we handle all baggage checks for you.  The basic price of The Pure Powder Skiing Escape is $3,200 or $4,000 per person if you fly first class.  You can charge it on your credit card — we accept American Express, Visa, MasterCard, Discovery and Diners Club.  So now . . . the only question I’ve got for you is this:  “When do you want to go?”  

My friend, THIS is what I call a powerful package!

If you’re a serious skier who’s had it up to here with crowded trails and packed powder skiing, I’ll bet this ‘package’ of travel services is very, very compelling, right?  Could YOU do the same for your particular expertise?  If you’re not sure, we’ll examine why this package ‘works’ and how you can apply the same principles to achieve success in packaging your expertise, too.

To recap this PART 2 on Packaging Your Services:  

•  a ‘package’ provides what your Ideal Client wants

•  a ‘package’ includes everything needed to do that

•  a ‘package’ is the FIRST thing a client gets from you!

In PART 3, I’ll deconstruct the Pure Powder Skiing Escape — so you can do the same

Don’t want to wait?  Download the full Special Report . . . NOW!

package

If you’re providing a service and find you aren’t getting as many qualified prospects to become clients as you like, you may want to examine an often overlooked yet significant factor: the way you package your service.

Why You Need A ‘Package’ for Your Service

Let’s face it.  Selling an intangible service is not the same as selling a tangible product for a lot of reasons.  I won’t go belabor the details, but it is sufficiently different because when someone decides to become your client, they’re not (yet!) getting your service.  You see, technically they can’t!

With a tangible product like a hot dog from a vendor, you immediately know what you’re getting.  But, how can anyone know what they’re getting at the time they’re buying your service?  Afterall, they haven’t experienced your service yet, right?  And, they certainly haven’t enjoyed the benefits of your service, either.  So, what are they buying in that magical moment when they commit to become your client and avail themselves of your service?  It’s the implicit PROMISE . . . that they’ll (eventually) enjoy the benefits you offer them.

By the way, before we go any further, let me clarify two things.  First, I’m assuming that you have adequately defined the benefits of your service so that qualified prospects can identify what’s in it for them if they buy it.  Second, I’m assuming that you have already sold yourself to your prospect by intentionally developing a relationship with your prospect through the things you’ve said and done with your prospect starting from the moment you first met.

So, if you are acceptable to your prospect and your service’s benefits are truly attractive, but your otherwise qualified prospects aren’t buying . . . it might just be the way you’re packaging your services.

To recap this PART 1 on Packaging Your Services:  

•  prospects can’t experience the benefits of your service until some time passes

•  a ‘package’ is how you make your intangible service . . . tangible

In PART 2, I’ll reveal how to construct intangible service ‘package’ — so you can do the same!

Don’t want to wait?  Download the full Special Report . . . NOW!

“If you’re not standing out, maybe you’re just not that outstanding!”.  Perhaps a tad harsh with a hint of truth (sounds like a good wine!).  But the fact remains that differentiation is a key skill to develop for your business or practice.

It’s Not Personal, It’s Biological!
The author, A. K. Pradeep writes in his book, The Buying Brain: Secrets for Selling to the Subconscious Mind that when there’s a plethora of similarities, our brain goes into what he calls “Repetition Blindess”.  This is a condition of perception where, when faced with a number of similar objects or concepts, the brain ‘freezes’ or ‘goes blind’ and is rendered useless at being able to distinguish one item from the others.

Pradeep adds, “We are biologically programmed to seek out differences”.  Why?  The purpose is purely adaptive.  We need to identify things in our environment that have the potential to harm us.  So we scan and scan our environment to identify anything that appears ‘out of place’.  So our brain renders anything similar in appearance as non-registerable and seeks to find the ‘exception’, not the ‘rule’.

Marketing Implication:  Stop Being a Copycat!
Saying what your competition is saying is not only unimaginative, it’s ineffective.  Why?  Because ‘copycat’ marketing — saying what your competition is saying — makes you appear similar to them and that, as we just said, makes you invisible!

Marketing Implication:  Honor Your Prospects’ Need for Differences
The way to capture attention of your prospective client is to ‘go against the grain’ . . . to ‘stand out’ from the crowd in what and how you say it. Remember that your prospects’ brains are craving for what is not like all the other messages out there.

Rather than putting out the ‘same old, same old’ . . . consider these ‘outstanding / stand out’ variations as noted copywriter, Tom Trush suggests:

Tutorials — popular way to attract interest.  “How To” never goes out of fashion!

Lists — short, sweet and fun to eat (oh, that’s baby carrots!)  but you get the point, yes?

Interviews — with thought / industry leaders — they’re very popular for a reason!!

Statistics — charts and graphs render complex ideas quickly and easily!

Insider Views — show what ‘most’ can’t or don’t get to see and you’ll be very popular

Q & A — reveal your expertise and satisfy the need to compare ourselves with others

KEY POINT:
Don’t be a copycat!  Saying what others are saying in their marketing is like getting wet in a dark wool suit — you may feel all warm and fuzzy but no one (that you care about i.e. prospects) are likely to pick up on it. 

I just read where Apple has become a largely iPhone company.

In 2012 Q1, the iPhone generated 58% of Apple’s revenue.  58%!!!

A mere 5 years ago, Apple didn’t even have the iPhone, much less the enviable position in the cell-phone marketplace it now commands.

So I guess the blog title isn’t quite correct, eh?  Some things DO change.  But wait . . .

What Made This Possible?  
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, in a related story, talked about why Apple would remain a ‘top choice’ even though some cell-phone carrier subsidies may be reduced in the future:
“. . . our focus is on making . . . a phone that delivers an off-the-charts user experience that customers want. At the end of the day, I think that carriers . . . want to provide what their customers want to buy.”

An ‘OFF THE CHARTS USER EXPERIENCE’
Ironically, while the MODE of Apple’s revenues has changed to reflect it’s huge success with the iPhone, the BASIS of what makes Apple so successful has NOT changed.

As Cook pointed out, Apple’s ‘secret sauce’ is to create such a compelling and exquisite experience for people who buy and use Apple products that, all things being equal, there’s really no basis for comparison with an Apple product.

There’s a lesson there . . . I hope you see it.  More importantly, I hope you APPLY it!

KEY POINT:
Understanding what your client wants . . . and providing it in an elegant and compelling manner . . . generates an experience that produces repeat sales, increasing revenues, more profit-ability and growing brand loyalty.   

Amazon’s new Kindle ‘Fire’ — is a brilliant marketing decision
Sure, the pricing is absurd.  Absurdly good.  For consumers.  Some believe Amazon’s losing money on every tablet they sell.  So the brilliance isn’t because of the extremely good price.

Kindle is playing on its strengths, not competing on its weaknesses
The tablet computer market is crowded.  Over-crowded.  So another tablet is not a smart idea.  Neither is creating an alternative to Apple’s iPad.  Kindle Fire makes neither mistake.

Kindle Fire is both unique AND beneficial
Kindle’s Fire is different and better than Android tablets that are both supported — and limited by — Google.  Amazon’s Kindle Fire is supported by Amazon’s version of Android and its own content — a far more extensive resource.  Also, Kindle is not seeking to woo a wide market like Apple is doing with the iPad.  Instead, Amazon is targeting its significant base of loyal Amazon customers who are seeking a convenient way to access Amazon’s content.

The Kindle Fire is also not as elegant as an iPad.  It doesn’t have to be.  it just has to provide access to Amazon’s extensive content.  Just as when Coca-Cola gave it’s vending machines away for free — because Coke™ made its money by refilling their machines. Brilliant!

KEY POINT:
“Never bring a knife to a gunfight” — Amazon is defining it’s own ‘Fire’ power and will likely be a winner because of it.