Value proposition shift happens to the best of us. Our businesses grow. We expand our areas of expertise. We learn to articulate “what we do” in a more impactful and relevant manner. We attract a higher caliber clientele whom we enjoy collaborating with.
Value propositions describe, honestly and accurately, the tangible benefits customers receive from doing business with you. Your statement embraces the holistic business value of your offering in terms of people, process, quality and outcomes.
Your value proposition answers the question: how does working with your company make your customers’ businesses healthier and sustainable?
How would you rate the accuracy and honesty of your current value proposition? Is it time to shift?
When you make a Value Proposition Shift, be honest about what you do.
I have worked with companies that created shape-shifting, amazing-sounding value propositions on a quarterly basis. This practice became unsustainable, impacting company credibility in their existing marketplaces.
I advised these companies that the messages they wanted to deliver to their respective marketplaces were unrealistic and not entirely truthful. There were no processes in place to support their claims of expertise. On top of that, leadership did not want to invest in educating and certifying employees so that the new value proposition was accurate.
In advising against these ill-conceived strategies, our round-table led these companies to realize that they perceived value propositions as shallow, slick-sounding slogans. They began to understand that value propositions serve as corporate mantras directly related to the very heart of their companies.
Stop selling yourself short in your existing value proposition.
What happens when the marketplace calls you to provide services that you never realized you were capable of delivering? Clearly, “what you think you do” is smaller than “what the marketplace thinks you are capable of doing.”
I worked with a small company specializing in reverse-engineering obsolete aerospace parts. They historically and habitually competed against industry giants for what always ended up being a small piece of the total contract. The CEO was completely focused on their company’s perpetual David and Goliath sales struggle. As a result, they ignored Requests for Proposal from companies not competing in the governmental manufacturing sector. These new markets were calling them and offering more profitable opportunities.
We took inventory of what their small company was capable of “doing” for their current customers. They realized how much they had grown. The CEO invested in employee education and certification over the years. The team acknowledged they were limiting themselves by focusing on their original market. Their small company now had depth of expertise and considerable credibility based on their history in aerospace custom manufacturing.
The resulting value proposition was a source of pride for the entire company. Everyone realized they had contributed to the mantra, which truthfully reflected the heart of their company.
This company leveraged “what got them to where they are today” and launched their competitive entry into select new markets seeking similar expertise.
Is your Value Proposition ready to shift?
One of my favorite quotes about value propositions initially appears to have nothing to do with value propositions at all. It has to do with process creation and improvement. Think about the quote. “What you do” has everything to do with “how you do what you do.”
“If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.” – W. Edwards Deming
Revisit your current value proposition. Describe yourself, briefly and succinctly, in terms of “what you do,” “how you do it,” and “the business value of doing business with your company.” Compare with your current value proposition.
Is your current value proposition serving your company honestly and accurately? Is it time for a thoughtful value proposition shift?
Babette N. Ten Haken is a strategist, analyst, author and blogger. Her focus: the interrelationship between teams, leadership and culture in technology and manufacturing. Her Workshops target excellence in the execution of strategy. Babette began her career in clinical research where she was asked to bring clarity to stalemated cross-functional conversations. Her Playbook of collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com.
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