Perception is everything. True or false?
We tend to agree violently with this sentiment. Think about it. It's time for your annual physical, and before entering the exam room, the technician asks you to stop in the hall, points to a tidy location for you to put your things, and leads you to a yellow duct tape line on the ground. You're now instructed to look ahead, and before you is a wall decorated with a black and white poster filled with letters of various sizes.
You know the drill, covering your right eye, you strain to try to see the tiniest line, challenging yourself to read it with impressive precision and accuracy. Instead, it is a blurry mess. All you can make out are shadows, 3D shapes, and a distorted fraction of what you thought was the English alphabet. Your eyes begin to search, making your way further up the chart looking for a row more forgiving of your vision until you land on one that provides you complete clarity and bolsters your confidence.
There it is! The row third from the top is your friend. You were once blind, but now you can see. You spew out each letter boldly and fearlessly. "So I can't see beyond my nose," you think to yourself, "but at least I saw something."
This predicament is the same situation we put our audience in when we don't clarify the value we offer them. When the value proposition is vague or undefined, we force our target segments to take stabs in the dark and guess our importance to their world. They'll search and search until the narrative they tell themselves makes the most sense and stick with that story, whether right or positively wrong. How your audience perceives you is eternally essential. However, its vitality grows in significance during unpredictable climates. When inflation threatens all of our pockets, only what we deem most valuable will motivate the continued investment of dollars and time.
So then, how do we develop value and articulate the value proposition of our offering? It begins with answering one big question for yourself. By putting yourself in your audience's shoes, you want to answer this, "Why would my customer choose my offering? What does my product or services provide them?" See why you don't want them speculating your value proposition? This premise is the very essence of "who" you are for "who" you serve. The value proposition is an extension of your "why" you exist. It is the "why" the world needs your organization. If your audience misinterprets this, everything will be misconstrued by them.
To answer this question in a manner that matters to your target audience, you must know something about them. Mainly their pain points. The problem that your offering solves for your customer is the major challenge you want to address with your value proposition. It should aim, shoot, and fire at this issue at hand. If your value proposition does so, it will quickly grab your audience's attention, causing them to want to know more.
Next, you'll need to include the benefits of your offering and explain why these benefits are valuable. What advantages does your product or service deliver, and what value do these benefits hold? This is the mystery you seek to uncover for your customer via the value proposition. They need to see the value through your perception and not their own. Make them put on your lens, relook at your organization's eye chart, and see what you see.
This "do you see what I see" technique becomes easier when you can connect your defined value with your audience's problem. That aching in their lives that you identified as a major headache your organization has come to relieve—create a bridge between it and the value. You are now making it relevant for them. How can your audience resist you when they come to see that you are the answer they have been looking for?
So, irresistible you, there's one more step to take. A vital role your value proposition plays is to set you apart from the competition. You must differentiate yourself as the preferred provider of this value. Whether you are serving members, meeting the needs of a business, or selling to a client, take note, your audience will shop around. They will review about four or five options before deciding which is right. This decision-making process starts over for your current customer during an inflated market. The goal is to be the offer of choice, the gold standard of value. Your value proposition must articulate your uniqueness.
Here are two examples of distinct and well-established value propositions:
"To create a better everyday life for the many people." IKEA strives "to offer a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them."
"To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. Keep in mind that Nike defines an athlete as any person with a body. Nike's product line and offering ooze with inspiration and innovation, allowing its value prop to live beyond words but become emulated and felt through its work.
Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is perception. Diamond, come out from the rough and begin to show us all what you are really made of. May your value be well perceived and intentionally received.
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