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I won’t buy from you if I don’t understand what value you bring to my business

Chris Field
Chris Field

Tech companies are not always good at talking about why businesses should buy from them. What problem that I have right now are you able to solve? And what measurable value will that bring to my business in the immediate and longer term?

Here then are the six steps you need to take, in order to develop a value proposition.

This is not easy to do, because it requires input from a range of people from inside and outside the organisation; people who probably never sit down together to consider this. But when they do, the impact is dramatic because it creates an unbroken chain of clear messaging from the web site all the way into the sales pitch.  The goal is to express your value with clarity, consistency and simplicity.

Who?

People still buy from people; they need to know who runs your business and what kind of people they are. Entrepreneurial, visionary, opinionated, courageous, analytical – human characteristics that you have in abundance but are nowhere on show. Who is your technical guru? Who is your futurist? Who can talk sense about implementation? Who is your quirky person who has an unusual or controversial view of how the world is changing?

What?

What do you do? In the rush to be different from their competitors, vendors often forget to state in plain language what they actually do, which can make things tough for visitors and for search. At this stage, it is important to do competitive analysis so that you get found through search. You are not looking for a unique way of describing what you do, because you will never get found. Only later do you need to worry about whether you need to start paying to get found?

Where?

Not so much geographically but where do you play in terms of industries or types of businesses. Not an easy one because most vendors want to hedge their bets and go after every possible opportunity. This can make everyone think that you are not for them. It’s best, I think, to start with a sweet spot, an area that you can dominate and build customers. Or you may want to target fast-growth businesses. This requires some homework to determine your total addressable market, so that you match your messaging.

When?

This is about when will value be delivered. Again, not an easy one because the answer always depends on how the user business implements and sticks to the schedule. However, consider that most businesses recognise that any decision to buy new software involves risk and one of the greatest risk mitigators is when they can see value being delivered early. This is why PoCs and pilots are popular, with the added advantage that it becomes easier to get more investment in something that can be seen to be working.

Why?

Why are you in business? In what ways can you make things better for business, for people and the world around you? The why of business is very topical but it come with pitfalls. For instance, many companies’ Why statements are interchangeable, so that if we are all here to make the world a better place, then we have lost the thing that makes us distinctive. However, it is important to have this discussion because it is almost certainly there somewhere, but maybe never made it into the open. For examples, see Wholefoods, Uber, Airbnb and Amazon – you may not subscribe to these companies’ excessive hubris, but you remember it, right?

How?

This is an important additional risk mitigator. Companies want to understand at least the main elements of how you engage and how solutions are developed. This plays to the personality of your business. Most vendors simply call this consultancy, the bit of their business where they advise, but that can be a put-off because it sounds a bit pompous and almost certainly expensive. I’m not against taking a consultative approach and I am not against consultancy being paid for, but this cannot be a cover-all for how you engage.

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