We see a lot of creative marketing campaigns these days, but there is one critical element that every successful campaign hinges on – the value proposition. Marketing is not just promoting a product, and branding is not just synthetically crafting an image. A clearly defined value proposition is the cornerstone, the chief element that every part of a successful campaign is built on.
What Is A Value Proposition?
It would be a disservice for me to write another paragraph without defining this foundational branding and marketing element. Your value proposition is the reason that your target audience should choose your products or services instead of any of your competitors. This sounds simple, and it is, but there is a lot of meaning and understanding to gain from that one sentence.
The general idea is why should someone choose your organization or product. But the implication is big whether you are a business, a ministry, or a church. Why should your ideal prospect select you instead of someone else who is in the same space? This usually comes down to some sort of best or only factor. What do you do better, or what do you do that no one else does? This is the cornerstone of your brand distinctives. Think of it in terms of the unique value your organization provides.
Defining Your Value Proposition
This expression of value does not need to be all that profound. Actually, it needs to be simple enough to be summarized in a sentence. Sometimes proximity is the value proposition, so you can say you are the only organization of a specific type in a city. Sometimes size is your key element, so you can say you are the largest organization in a space. Perhaps experience, unique qualifications, or specific expertise are the key factors. But there needs to be something, and something tangible that prospective consumers will value.
Your value proposition could be based around elements such as:
- Location / proximity
- Organizational longevity
- Specialized experience
- Specific expert qualifications
- Demonstrated track record
- Noteworthy accomplishments
- Size or scale of services
- Unique user experience
- Number or depth of products
- Prices, specials, or deals
- Consistency or reliability
- Unique mission, processes, or principles
- Unique outcomes
A fluffy value proposition like “we are the best organization for this service” is not enough. Anyone can say they are the best, and many do. Rather you need something more concrete, more realistic, and more compelling. Because the reality is, without a value proposition, you are only surviving on pockets of ignorance. This means sooner or later your audience is going to realize your competition really is better.
In order to succeed you need to be able to provide unique value to a specific audience so that you really are the best choice, even if it is under narrowly defined circumstances. The good news is that you probably already do have a viable value proposition, even if you have not yet articulated it into a clear sentence. If you refine, strengthen, and embrace your value proposition, then you can develop a more powerful branding and marketing platform that is both authentic and compelling.
Finding The Competitive Edge
For example, if you wanted to open up a coffee shop next to a Starbucks, the only way that you can stay in business is if you have a solid value proposition. You need to offer something that Starbucks does not offer, or offer it in a different way, with a different twist, or with an extra element.
Somehow you need to differentiate yourself to your ideal prospect. Your target audience, even if that audience is small and narrowly defined, must see greater value in coming to you instead of Starbucks. It is certainly doable, but it will not happen by accident. It needs to be strategic and intentional. Your competitive edge should be an expression of your value proposition. This is the element that conceptually gives you ability and the cause to compete.
Once you have identified your value proposition then you have something to build a brand on, and then you have something to market.