24 Oct What do you do, exactly?
It’s a really simple, obvious and important question but how often do you ‘um’ and ‘ah’, when people ask it? Do you have a different answer every time? Do you deliver a weak one-liner in the hope your inquisitor can fill the gaps themselves, or do you waffle unconvincingly, watching their eyes glaze over as you throw the kitchen sink at them?
Some people like to talk about an ‘elevator pitch’ but end up creating something that would have your fellow passenger getting out at the next floor and taking the stairs. Others will write a ‘slogan’ that is either cliché or meaningless, or both. Can you identify what these companies do, for example?
- Safety is our priority
- Quality solutions
- Where customers matter
- A company you can trust
- Unbeatable service
No? Me neither. The truth is that what seems so simple isn’t that straightforward and, like most things in business, needs careful thought and some hard work. So, if you’re not up for that, you can save yourself the trouble of reading on.
There are three steps to follow:
- Identify your strengths – write down what you are good at
- Create a value proposition – derive a simple statement that summarises why a customer would choose to buy from you
- Derive a brand promise – a tagline that will identify you and stick in the minds of customers
Identifying your strengths
Start by pulling together a list of your strengths. It may be that you have some unique selling points (USPs), that is to say, things you can offer, that your competitors can’t. Don’t worry if you haven’t, focus on those things that you are particularly good at. Think about this from your customers’ perspective.
Creating a value proposition.
Decide which of these strengths, when combined, accurately summarise what you do and differentiate you most clearly from the competition – again from your customer’s point of view. For each of your key strengths, write down what the benefit is to the customer. Don’t worry too much about being succinct at this point, that comes later. Choose your words carefully but use as many as you need to make sure the benefit is clear and easy to understand. You will be able to polish up this ‘expanded value proposition’ later and use it as content for your website, social media channels and printed collateral.
For example, we created these for a London estate agency chain:
We provide a personal approach.
With us you get a personal service from people who take that extra bit of time, so you can rest assured you’ll always get the best possible service whoever you talk to at our branches. We don’t stop until you get the home, tenant or buyer you’re looking for, at the right price.
We are local experts.
We live, work and breathe London life – we eat at the local restaurants, we use the public transport, our kids go to the local schools – and our knowledge is here for you. Because we know the area like the back of our hands, we can recommend the ideal place for you to live. And when it comes to the property market and current house prices, we keep our finger on the pulse, so you know you’ll get an accurate valuation for your property.
Now, the trick is to encapsulate all your strengths into three or four short sentences. Be concise but complete and make every word count. Make it easy for your potential customers to understand – use plain English with no jargon.
You also need to think about the ‘tone of voice’ you are using and the personality you are trying to create for your business. The value proposition should articulate not only the benefits of working with you but what type of people you are. Remember, people buy from people, not organisations.
Do you come across as confident or arrogant?
Are you engaging or superior?
Do you seem helpful or too clever by half?
Once you have created your value proposition, read it out loud to make sure it doesn’t sound awkward or contrived. Then stress test it with colleagues and some friendly customers. Refine it if you feel you need to.
Creating a brand promise
This (not the value proposition) is your tagline. It needs to represent your key benefit to customers and should bear these characteristics:
It is quite difficult to pull this off and even with professional help, will probably take some time and energy to finalise. Here are some examples of value propositions and taglines, you will recognise:
Vorsprung Durch Technik
The AUDI AG stands for sporty vehicles, high build quality and progressive design – for “Vorsprung durch Technik.” The Audi Group is among the world’s leading producers of premium cars.
Marks and Spencer
This is not just…
M&S is a leading British retailer bringing quality, great value food, clothing and homeware to millions of customers around the world.
Just do it!
Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.
We champion continual progress for athletes and sport by taking action to help athletes reach their potential. Every job at NIKE, Inc. is grounded in a team-first mindset, cultivating a culture of innovation and a shared purpose to leave an enduring impact.
Refreshing brands since 2001
Ronin is a team of talented designers, writers and marketing people whose stock-in-trade is problem solving and innovating to get results for our customers.
Clients like us because they can work with one team for all their marketing and because they feel they are getting objective advice rather than being pushed in one direction or another. It makes for a positive and profitable relationship for both of us.
Now you are ready to go
Remember that creating your value proposition is not the end game, it is really just the start.
Your value proposition should appear prominently on all your marketing collateral and should be the litmus test for all your messaging. You must check that every piece of your promotional material reflects at least one element of your value proposition (with the relevant ‘expanded value proposition’ text).
Finally, the best publicity is what other people say about you. You should support your value proposition with ‘social proof’. This is evidence that other people have bought and found value in what you offer. So, use customer endorsement, testimonials and recommendations wherever you can.