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3 Keys To Your Successful Value Proposition

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“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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What Do Clients Truly Want?

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In the end, clients want . . . a valued result.  That’s what they’re buying from you.

How you make that desirable result happen for a client, while important, is less critical to generating a client than understanding what they want and why that’s important to them.

“I’m Getting a New Knee”
Some years ago, I received a call from my mother who had moved to Ft. Lauderdale, FL for her retirement.  She said, “I’m going to do it, Bill!”  Mom seemed rather excited and I was very confused.  “You’re going to do WHAT, mom?”  That’s when I learned that ‘it’ was a ‘total knee replacement’ –– a serious surgical procedure.

I was a little freaked out at hearing that.  I asked, “Why are doing that, mom?”  “I just want a new knee”.  Again, I asked, “Why?”  Mom replied, “I just want to dance again, Bill”.

How It All Happened
Mom told me she’d been invited to a ‘lunch ‘n learn’ session sponsored by her church.  As she entered the gym/theater of the church, she heard music playing and saw all these people (some of whom she knew) dancing upon on the stage!  As people continued to arrive, the music and dancing continued.  Apparently to the delight of those in attendance, I’m sure.

The Shortest and Most Expensive Presentation . . . EVER!
Mom told me that once everyone was seated, the minister welcomed the guests and introduced the doctor who was speaking that day.  “Dr. _______ (name not used to protect the guilty!) is an orthopedic surgeon at the Holy Cross Hospital here in Ft. Lauderdale.  He’s an expert on Total Knee Replacement surgery. Blah, blah, blah . . . so now, without further ado, I give you . . . Dr. so-and-so”.

The doctor then stood up and gave a 1 minute presentation to the people at mom’s church:

“I won’t bore you with all the details of knee replacement surgery — as fascinating as that is to me.  Instead, what I’d like you all to learn today, before you return to your lunch, is this:  Everyone you saw dancing on this stage when you came in today . . . is a patient of mine.  They had been unable to dance BEFORE they had knee replacement surgery. Many of them attended a lunch ‘n learn similar to this one today and, like many of you, required canes, walkers and even wheelchairs to simply get around.  After surgery, they’ve been able to dance and do many other things they feared they’d lost the ability to do ever again. 

Then, he ‘closed’ his presentation very simply (and highly effectively!):  “If you have any questions about whether you may be a qualified candidate for knee replacement surgery . . . please see me before you leave.  Thank you”.

And THAT . . . is all it took to get my mom to ‘go for it!’ and get the surgery.

KEY POINTS:
•  Prospects for your services want to know the RESULT you offer, not the way you create it
•  Gaining access to quality prospects in an ‘endorsed’ manner is a huge help
•  Be laser-focused on your point — it means a shorter message and . . . better results!

What’s ‘New’ in the New Online Catalyst?

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Yesterday, I shared what I truly feel is a quantum leap forward in how I, as a Duct Tape Marketing Consultant, can bring you the collective wisdom of Duct Tape Marketing’s founder and recognized leader in the field of small business marketing — John Jantsch.

Today, I’d like to touch on how John’s Ultimate Marketing System, described in his book (Duct Tape Marketing: The World’s Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide) has been updated to reflect the way the world of business and marketing is evolving and how it’s making our program known as The Marketing Catalyst . . . a whole new ballgame . . . for you.

Old is New (Again!)
The original Duct Tape Marketing Catalyst program was based on John’s well-recognized ‘7 Steps’ to small business marketing success:

1.  Narrow Your Marketing Focus
2.  Find / Communicate Your Core Difference
3.  Package Your Solution/s
4.  Create Marketing Materials that Educate
5.  Establish Your Lead-Generation Trio
6.  Automate and Dominate
7.  Live by the (Marketing) Calendar

Due to recent changes in how marketing is being done in 2011, the new seven steps are:

1.  Strategy BEFORE Tactics
2.  Embrace the Marketing Hourglass
3.  Adopt the Publishing Model
4.  Create a Total Web Presence
5.  Orchestrate Your Lead-Generation Trio
6.  Drive a Lead Conversion System
7.  Live by a Marketing Calendar

As you can see, the basics are still there, but there are some significant changes as well.

In the coming days, I’ll take each one of these significant changes / improvements in the ‘old’ 7 steps approach and explain not only HOW but WHY we’ve made the changes we have.

KEY POINT:
The world is dynamic, fluid and constantly evolving — your marketing is no less so! 

Making Your Message Clear

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If you meet someone at a business event, a conference, etc. you have a very (VERY!) short window of opportunity to communicate your value proposition to them.

16 Seconds . . . it’s all you really need!
Here’s a product that’s using a YouTube video to explain what it does . . . in 16 seconds:

Can you do as well?  If not, study this little video . . . you might learn a lot . . . about clarity and focus and getting your value across.

KEY POINT:
Making your message . . . moving . . . takes work . . . but not a lot of time 

Is Your Elevator Pitch . . . Still Working?

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Like fashion, an ‘elevator’ pitch — the reply to answer, “What do you do?” — has come full circle.  For a long time, it reflected a creative focus on the BENEFIT you provide (e.g. “I help people smile more”) rather than WHAT you do to make that happen (e.g. “I’m a dentist”).

Don’t Play Games . . . Be Straight About What You Do
Playing, “What’s My Line?” doesn’t make sense in these time-starved days we live in.  It may even irritate a qualified prospect who really wants to know, “What DO you do?”.  Unless you really have to spell it out, just say what you do.  More often than not, being ‘blunt’ will differentiate you from your competition . . . in a very positive way.

Add Your Benefit/s . . . Afterwards
Once you state WHAT you do, then you can add WHO you help and WHAT they get.

Kyle Hunt, Founder of Remodel Your Marketing answers the question this way:  “I solve marketing and sales problems for remodelers” adding, “Contractors who hire me tell me things like, “I stink at following-up with prospects”, “I chase way too many bids”, “I’m not getting enough referrals”, “My website is terrible”, etc.”.

Basically, Kyle’s saying, “Look, I’m THE marketing guy . . . for contractors.  I fix marketing problems the way you fix construction problems.  Would you like to talk about that?”   Refreshing, isn’t it?

KEY POINT:
Tell people what you do . . . simply, concisely and effectively

Be Negative . . . Really Negative

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I’m not suggesting you get moody and depressing.  I’m referring to your marketing messages.

Preservation Beats Acquisition
Keeping what we have is more motivating than acquiring what we want but do not have. You know it’s true.

We work harder to maintain what we have — especially if we feel it’s being threatened than we ever do to generate a result that’s better than what we have now.  Go figure.

Why ‘Going Negative’ . . . Works
We’re genetically and psychologically programmed to scan for threats to our well-being. That’s why negative messages that alert us to any possible threats always get our attention.

Remember to Relieve!
Getting attention with a negative or threat-based message makes people uncomfortable. Actually, that’s good.  You can leverage that to produce a response from prospects designed to relieve their discomfort.  But if you make someone uncomfortable, you have a moral imperative to make them feel good again, too.  That’s where your offer comes in . . .

KEY POINT:
Negative messages . . . work! 

WHAT and WHO . . . You Choose!

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Being crystal clear about WHAT your business does and WHO you serve is a key factor in your ability to attract the interest and response of people who could do business with you.

Typically, that’s not common in businesses.  Consider how often you meet someone who tells you what they do and you’re still clueless about what they do and whether you (or someone you know) might benefit from their services.

A business is in one of 4 ‘Clarity Categories’ based on the mission and market it serves.

ZORBA — this firm is completely unclear about what it does and who might care.  When Zorba The Greek’s new boss asked, “What do you do, Zorba?”  Zorba replied, “Hey Boss Man I have 2 hands and 2 feet.  They do whatever they like.  Who am I to choose?”.  Unfortunately, a ‘Zorba’ business is a muddled business and suffers because of it. (Hope you don’t see yourself in this cataegory!)

MISSIONARY — this firm has ‘seen the light’ and is really clear about why it exists — it’s mission is well defined.  Problem is, the firm’s leaders haven’t identified the groups of people who would most likely understand, value and embrace the firm’s mission or ‘beneficial difference’.  A ‘Missionary’ business feels good about why it exists but without clarity on the market segments it can serve profitably, it hurts financially.

Tomorrow . . . we’ll touch on the remaining two:  the Mercenary and the Marketeer

KEY POINT:
Clarity in your MISSION and MARKET . . . is a beautiful thing

The Power of SIMPLICITY

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I attended a local business gathering yesterday.  John Voice, a business contact who ‘makes the rounds’ of social connection meetings, shared a piece of insight that is absolutely brilliant!

He was challenged at a business meeting to introduce himself in just ten (10) words.  TEN!

He said it was difficult.  But then added, “I was then asked to do it in only FIVE (5) words!”

Discussion about each person’s ability to do this ensued and became rather lively.

We developed a formula:  “I help . . . ” (the first 2 words)  “(Ideal client / target market)” (third word or phrase) “Action Verb + Valuable Outcome” (the fourth and fifth words).

Examples:  “I help seniors find work”, “I throw parties everyone remembers”, “I grow sales for entrepreneurs”.

Of course, you can expand on these ‘core value statements’.  But isn’t it better to start with a solid ‘core’ than a ‘muddled middle’?

KEY POINT:
Less is More . . . especially when it comes to communicating your value!

Message: Yes, It Matters

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While you may differentiate yourself around the value you provide, you still have to communicate that value, don’t you?

Often I go to a meeting and find people who leave me totally confused about what it is they do for their clients.  They don’t seem to be able to communicate what their Position or Value Proposition really is.

We hear a lot about ‘elevator’ pitches — those short, pithy sound-bites designed to get the attention of someone who’s able to appreciate what we do . . . and if not today, then soon enough.  And you know what?  An Elevator pitch is a good thing to have!

But do yourself a favor . . . don’t forget to put some time and effort into creating yours.  And when you do, tweak it and polish it up until it shines brighter than anything anyone else might say at your next business gathering.  The results might just amaze you!

KEY POINT:
Find a way to communicate your VALUE in a MESSAGE that’s short and sweet

Got a Core Message, yet?

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You meet someone at an event.
You exchange introductions and pleasantries.
Question:  “Will what you say be memorable . . . to another person?”
If not, it may be hard for you to ‘stand out’ from the crowd of all the other people who are present at the event.

Solution:  Craft a Core Message that embodies the essence of your value proposition.  Often, it may be the best way for what you’re doing to ‘stand out’ in the Mind of someone you meet.

Examples:
Ben Franklin Plumbing: “If there’s any delay, it’s YOU we will pay”
Duct Tape Marketing: “Simple, effective and affordable small business marketing”
Pete’s Septic Service:  “When you can’t go, we’ll come!”
Johnson’s Plumbing:  “You call.  We come.  You flush”
Wolfe Design: “More great ideas per square inch than anyone else!”

A ‘core message’ is the distilled essence of the uniqueness and value your business offers. Smaller messages are easier to say.  They’re easier to remember, too. Sometimes, that’s all it takes to get called the next time someone needs the value you offer.

KEY POINT:
Craft a ‘Core Message’ as well as your ‘Elevator Pitch’