Many business owners see marketing as a magic bullet that would drive clients through their doors if only they had enough money to throw at it. Others see it as a vague and fluffy concept that’s hard to measure and hard to justify.
First and foremost, however, marketing is about understanding your potential clients and being clear on what your business stands for from their point of view, because no amount of clever profile building, client engagement events or public relations initiatives will help if they don’t see a compelling benefit in what you’re offering.
Getting clear on what your business stands for and how clients perceive you is the first step in creating a value proposition, which is a statement of the value you promise. It’s the benefit you provide to clients and the reason you think they should buy your products or services.
The value proposition is the foundation from which you make decisions, create services and products that resonate with clients, and ultimately drive momentum. If there’s a disconnect between what a business is offering and what clients want, there’s a fundamental flaw in the formula and a business will be forced to evolve to become more relevant or face dire consequences.
Take the time to review and reflect
Evaluating your value proposition doesn’t have to be arduous and time consuming. If you can carve out the time to take stock and reflect, you’re well on your way, and it’s worth reviewing your value proposition on a regular basis regardless of how confident you are with it. After all, your business, your competitors and your clients are continually evolving. Think of it as a health check for your business. You can start right now by answering three simple questions:
- What does our business stand for?
This is about who you are as an organisation, your identity, your approach, what you do. Look at this in terms of the benefits you provide clients, rather than the nuts and bolts of your product or service offer. It might be helpful to think about one or two of your most loyal clients – those who refer others to your business and have a deep relationship with you. How do they feel about your business? What words do they use to describe your business? How would you like them to describe your business in an ideal world?
- What are we uniquely good at?
Find the single, most compelling thing your business does for clients. This has to be distinctive and credible; it is the reason you expect potential clients to choose you over competitors. Will it make sense to clients? Will they see it as a benefit and will they believe you can actually provide it?
It may be that you are single-mindedly focused on a particular target group or topic area, or you go the extra mile to provide service or maybe you are more accessible and it’s easier to work with you.
- Why should people believe you?
Ultimately, people will look for reasons to believe the statements you make about your business and the benefits you are offering, particularly for providers of complex services such as financial advice. Selecting someone to do business with is likely to be a highly stressful and involved decision-making process for prospective clients. Clearly articulating the reasons you’re good at what you do will make this process so much easier for them.
Understanding what makes your business uniquely positioned to deliver the benefits clients want will give you a solid platform for growth. It’s worth sharing these insights with your colleagues for their feedback, to ensure there is collective agreement around what will become your refined or new value proposition. If, as a result of this process, you aren’t feeling energised and excited by your value proposition, chances are your clients aren’t either. It may be time to review the products and services you provide. Meeting with clients who will help shine a light on sticking points and opportunities could generate insights that help guide you in this process.
After settling on a value proposition that excites you, the next step is to develop key messages that succinctly and clearly bring this value proposition to life in a way clients find compelling and easy to understand. This will ensure your communications and all subsequent promotional activity are consistent and clear, and that everyone in the business will be able to represent what it stands for successfully in communications with current and prospective clients.
Mei-Ling Ho has 20 years of experience in marketing, communications and strategy across the corporate and not-for-profit sectors, at organisations including the Westpac Bicentennial Foundation, Diageo, Nestlé and The Centre for Social Impact
TOPICS: marketing, Mei-Ling Ho