In a recent blog post, a colleague of mine, Spencer Whiting, spoke to the reasons we need to avoid marketing strategies driven by the HIPPOs (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion) of our companies and the “company logic” that most often supports their viewpoints.
It’s often that a limited number of well-paid individuals at companies have the power to shape the marketing strategies that influence customer perceptions of your products, and your company as a whole.
However, too frequently these decisions are made based on what we think our customers need instead of focusing on the real golden egg – what we know our customers want.
One definitive way for us to overcome this habit is to discover which aspects of our value proposition customers and prospects value most. The best way to figure out which aspects of our products and services are perceived as most valuable in the eyes of our customers and prospects is to test them on the open market.
If this seems like a daunting task to you, don’t worry. In today’s MarketingExperiments Blog post, we’ll go over the first three steps to take toward testing your value proposition and uncovering exactly what it is about your current offerings that your customers really want.
Step #1. Identify your value proposition claims
To start, it’s best to meet with your team in a good old-fashioned brainstorming session to put everything on the table and out in the open.
Include as many stakeholder groups as possible to gain as many point of views incorporated – from the C-Suite, R&D, Marketing, Sales and even customers. The closer you are to your customers – the ones who actually use your product because they find it valuable – the better.
The goal of this session is to discover all points of value that you can link to your product. To do this effectively, make sure to ask these questions:
- What makes your product or service valuable?
- What makes it better than your competitors’?
- Why would a customer purchase it?
- How does it benefit people?
- What problem(s) does it solve?
- What about your company enhances your product or service?
Once you and your team have an exhaustive list of value claims, your next step is to discover how to prove these claims to your customers.
Step #2. Identify the evidence that proves your value proposition
When you make claims about anything in life, people expect to hear the evidence that you have to back up those claims. In marketing, this expectation is often heightened for most people by the pervasive bombardment of marketing and advertising messaging we all receive in our daily lives.
When considering what evidence you have to support the claims you and your team have identified, it is very important to focus on specificity and quantification. Be sure to know specific details rather than generalizations, and try to have quantified numbers when possible.
Both add credibility and tangibility to the claims you make.
Instead of “We have the widest selection in the area,” go with something like this: “We offer a selection of widgets across 17 models with 134 customizable attachments – the most in Smith County.”
For each claim you have, it’s necessary to dig into the specific evidence that exists as to why you are able to make that claim. If it’s a claim around customer service, look into the number of happy and satisfied customers your representatives have helped in a certain time period.
If it’s a claim to endurance, find the number of years needed before service is needed or the amount of uses a customer can get out of your product. If it’s a claim to quality, point out the specific materials or specialized craftsmanship used in creating your product.
Try to be as comprehensive as possible in these first two steps so your team has the most material available for manipulation when creating test expressions.
At this point, however, don’t waste your time focusing on wordsmithing; just achieve the plain facts and be as specific and quantified as possible. There will be time to worry about sprucing up the messaging in later steps of the process.