Archive

Archive for the ‘Marketing Insights’ Category

Process-Level Value Proposition: How marketing can leverage the value it creates

May 18th, 2015 No comments

If I am your ideal prospect, why should I buy from you rather than your competitors?

This is the essential value proposition question, and many major business decisions must be made to truly discover and deliver on your company’s value proposition — from the CEO down to the intern.

But today, let’s focus on the small stuff to raise this question for you …

 

What minor changes can you make right now to deliver a better value for your customers?

Once you have the big stuff taken care of, once marketing has communicated (and sometimes even created) value, sometimes the little touches make all the difference. They are the tipping point to help your ideal customer decide to choose your product or service instead of your competitors’.

Let me give you an example.

 

Really, they’re more than just stickers

My wife and I needed to buy some Mother’s Day cards, so we stopped by Deerwood Village, a shopping center near our house. As soon as we swung into the parking lot, we were confronted with three choices right next to each other that all likely offer Mother’s Day cards:

  • Publix (a grocery store)
  • CVS (a drug store)
  • Hallmark Gold Crown store (a gift shop)

We decided to buy the cards at the Hallmark store, and a simple but profound thing happened at the checkout. The cashier handed us stickers.

But, they weren’t just stickers. They were a signifier.

When she was done ringing us up at the cash register, she said, “Wait. Let me give you some of these to put on the back of the envelopes.”

With that, she reached down and counted out four gold crown stickers.

  Read more…

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg

How to Avoid Losing the Value of Your Value Proposition

When a customer comes to a page or an ad, one of the primary questions asked in their subconscious is, “If I am your ideal customer, why should I buy from you, rather than your competitor?

The answer to this question is, essentially, your value proposition.

However, what happens when you’ve formed a perfect value proposition, but it’s not giving you the results you wanted? You’ve filled out the worksheets, read all the articles on value proposition and followed all the rules you know. So, how is it that you’ve done everything, seemingly right, but it’s still not working?

For a quick example, let’s imagine for a moment that you’re reading through an online article. As you’re reading, you see the following advertisement on the side of the page with the caption, “Let’s look at the world a little differently.”


When we look at this ad, the first thing we see is the text in all caps; “Retired old man intercepted on his way out of the bank.” Below that is a confusing image of what looks like a diagram, followed by, at the very bottom of the page, what appears to be the value proposition: “Open happiness.”

The customer is left with the question: What can I do here?

Read more…

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg

Direct vs. Indirect Creative: Which ad is better?

April 20th, 2015 No comments

Most people spend their lives trying to avoid ads. Not me. This may make me a complete marketing nerd, but I actually enjoy reading ads. I have for some time now. I love studying the different approaches of persuasive communication. I love attempting to uncover the underlying value propositions under each ad. I love just seeing how other marketers are attempting to communicate value to their potential customers.

Recently, I was on a Delta flight to San Diego, and I began to sift through the different ads in the Delta Sky Magazine. The first ad that caught my attention was an ad from Little Caesars. Now, I am no Little Caesars expert by any means, but its brand real estate in my brain up to that point was simply this: We do cheap pizza.

This ad was trying to combat that perception in a decently creative way.

 

Ad #1: The creative (indirect) type

The ad was mostly made up of white space (or perhaps orange space). The first positive thing about this ad was that it stood out from the other pages. It also had one bold image in the middle — an industrial mixer. A single line of ALL CAPS text centered beneath the mixer simply stated, “Saving the commercial mixer from becoming extinct.”

 

Now, there are very few elements to this ad. Its creative is simple and elegant. Its creative also takes an indirect communication approach. David Ogilvy (widely hailed as “The Father of Advertising”) would be proud.

What are they trying to say by putting a big picture of a commercial mixer? What do you think the implied value proposition is? What is the message underneath the creative approach?

Read more…

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg

Direct from the Source: What a value proposition is, what it isn’t and the 5 questions it must answer

March 30th, 2015 No comments

Michael Lanning invented the term “value proposition” back in the 80s. Since then, it has become a staple in the marketing lexicon, and volumes have been written on the subject, including Lanning’s own book, Delivering Profitable Value: A Revolutionary Framework to Accelerate Growth, Generate Wealth, and Rediscover the Heart of Business.

I had the privilege of speaking with him recently about how the concept has evolved over the past three decades and what he thought about that evolution.

“‘Value proposition’ has been widely adopted since the 1990s as a marketing and selling tool — everyone knows they need a good value proposition to sell their product,’” Michael said.

However, Michael believes the focus is too narrow and misses the opportunity to influence business strategy. Michael explained that value propositions should:

 

1. Drive, but not be equated with, your message. It should be an internal articulation, to be echoed by your message. It should not be your actual selling line or slogan.

 

2. Focus on the specific, measurable experiences customers will derive by doing business with you.

“Contrary to how things may seem, customers don’t really care about your product. They care about their lives or businesses; they care about what they may or may not get out of using your products or services,’” Michael said. “So what matters and what must be at the heart of a real value proposition is those customers’ resulting experiences that happen because they buy [or] use your stuff rather than some other option.”

 

3. Be reflected across and influence your entire business — not just your messaging, marketing and sales.

“It should be the fundamental choice, creatively discovered, then debated, articulated and agreed internally by leadership across your entire business,” Michael  said. “It should fundamentally determine the very business you are in, which customers you seek and what your business will do to improve their experiences in return for their business.”

Read more…

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg

Value Prop: How Radio Shack lost its way by losing sight of its ideal customer, Pt. 3

March 23rd, 2015 No comments

As marketers, Radio Shack should serve as an important cautionary tale of how quickly our businesses can erode if we lose sight of our core value proposition. The first two parts of this three-part blog series (read part one here and part two here) documented Radio Shack’s meteoric rise to retail prominence throughout the 1960s and 70s, accomplished by identifying the ideal customer (the hobbyist) and offering to the market a unique, authentic value proposition built upon a foundation of four key factors:

Credibility — Can I trust your claims?
Clarity — What are you actually offering?
Exclusivity — Can I only get this from you?
Appeal — How much do I desire this offer?

By honoring this core value prop — Radio Shack stores provide specialized, innovative parts and merchandise not available anywhere else, sold by the most tech-knowledgeable staff in retail Radio Shack grew from a handful of bankrupt Boston electronics stores to a retail juggernaut with more storefronts than McDonalds.

The mid-1980s would mark the beginning of the end for Radio Shack, as the company continuously diluted, rather than refined, the comparative strengths of the exclusivity, appeal, credibility and clarity that served as the bedrock for its core value proposition.

 

The Mid-1980s — Marginalizing the core customer

Who is your customer? How did that customer find you, and why did he buy from you? What does that customer tell others about you? Even more important, what does the customer wish your company would do for him? That knowledge is your only true source of power.

— Kristin Zhivago, Revenue Coach, Author of Roadmap to Revenue: How to Sell the Way Your Customers Want to Buy

By 1984, even though Radio Shack’s stores continued to stock parts and components popular with hobbyists, the company’s specific focus on the DIY market was clearly beginning to shift.

The success of the TRS-80 had given Radio Shack a sense of arrogance, and the company began claiming that small businesses and schools were Radio Shack’s new target market, rather than hobbyists, who were “not the mainstream of the business.” This pinched-nose approach to hobbyists would pervade Radio Shack’s messaging for the next 30 years, whether explicit or implicit.

In fact, hundreds of neighborhood Radio Shack stores saw products aimed at the hobbyist and tinkerer disappear entirely when the stores were converted into Radio Shack Computer Centers.

 

Ironically, these hobbyists that Radio Shack alienated were among the earliest adopters for new technology, including the TRS-80, and many were quickly growing frustrated with some of Radio Shack’s practices.

Although Tandy’s computers boasted superior hardware performance to competitors — often running up to three times faster than its IBM counterparts — the software library for Radio Shack’s line of personal computers was not nearly as robust as IBM or Apple’s.

Because of the company’s insistence on offering mostly private-label products, the TRS-80 computer was designed to work primarily with inferior Radio Shack-brand software. In the absence of MS-DOS, largely superior IBM-compatible software was not compatible with the TRS-80.

Further, expensive peripherals that customers bought for the TRS-80 were purposely designed to be incompatible with other personal computers.

Read more…

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg

Value Prop: How Radio Shack lost its way by losing sight of its ideal customer, Pt. 2

March 19th, 2015 2 comments

Part 1 of this three-part blog series focused on Radio Shack’s origins and how a savvy businessman named Charles Tandy began to transform a chain of bankrupt Boston radio stores into America’s one-stop shop for consumer electronics. By identifying his ideal customer (the hobbyist) and offering to the market an authentic value proposition, Tandy laid a foundation that would open the door for decades of prosperity and growth.

Here in part two, we’ll look at how strengthening one key element of Radio Shack’s value proposition transformed the company from an emerging electronics chain into an American retail juggernaut.

 

The four elements of a strong value proposition

Though the “value proposition” we modern marketers speak of has gone by numerous names over the years — unique selling proposition, basic selling proposition, strategic differentiation, etc. — one underlying principal has remained largely the same:

The most successful value propositions boast credibility, clarity, exclusivity and appeal.

As the 1970s began, Radio Shack had their specific market cornered in three of these four key elements. The chain was widely regarded as having the most knowledgeable sales staff in retail. (Credibility — Can I trust your claims?)

Radio Shack’s meticulous mass and targeted marketing campaigns clearly communicated the specific goods sold within stores. (Clarity — What are you actually offering?)

Each store’s unique inventory of specialty parts and equipment gave Radio Shack a near-monopoly on the hobbyist market. (Exclusivity — I can only get this from you)

The only area where Radio Shack lagged behind was appeal. (How much do I desire this offer?) Though small, high-margin, house-brand items drove the majority of the company’s sales, batteries, capacitors and wire weren’t exactly the type of glamorous items that lured in window shoppers.


Early 1970s Radio Shack Value Proposition Lacked Appeal

 

Staying on the forefront of innovation

An exclusive offer without appeal has its force undermined by a lack of attraction. ­

— Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director and CEO, MECLABS Institute

While selling exclusive, highly-specific parts and accessories to its target customers kept Radio Shack’s margins and gross profits high, CEO Charles Tandy decided to also position the chain as the leading seller of cutting edge consumer technology. The newest innovations in home audio equipment, gadgetry, robotics and productivity devices, such as personal calculators — which drew a broader interest while still resonating strongly with Radio Shack’s target customer — could all be found and tested at the neighborhood Radio Shack.

Read more…

Share and Enjoy:
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg