Perfect Your Value Proposition – B2B Marketing Rules

Value Proposition Example

Most market failures don’t result from poor marketing tactics. They result from going to the market with a poor marketing message, i.e.: not Relevant, Differentiated, or Credible to the target market.

If your talk doesn’t say the right things to the right people in the right way, your marketing efforts will fail to produce the level of results you want.

Of course, there is more than one way to approach this, but here I’ll describe an approach that I’ve found particularly effective with B2B companies:

The Steps

Value Proposition and Messaging go hand-in-glove and are how you communicate your reason to buy to customers. They stem from your Positioning. So, if you haven’t developed your core positioning statement, do that first.

From there you build a set of Benefit Messages, then derive the Core (cross-segment/ cross-persona) Value Proposition from those. Later you can create Segment-specific and/or Persona-specific versions that are based on the Core. But we’ll just focus on the Core here.

The Core Messaging Deck

This consists of a set of statements that each describe a particular benefit and how that benefit is special or unique. Messages should first be written as an internal document but can later be converted into marketing copy for use in promotional materials.

To start with, you’ve got to be clear about what target prospects need/want so that you can match what you say about your product to the things that really matter to prospects. If you are not extremely clear about the prospect’s high-value needs/wants, you need to talk to some prospects or conduct other kinds of research to get clarity. We’re really talking about creating clear Personas here, but that’s a discussion for another article.

Your Benefit Messages Must:

  1. Express your solution in terms of those real-world needs, pains, and desired gains of target prospects
  2. Address their experiences with competitive solutions
  3. Embody their attitudes about the value of a better solution

Strong messages hang off the intersection between customer needs and your solution. Write 6-8 of these using the following format:

[The specific benefit created] by [The special or unique approach of product]

Bolster each message with 1 or 2 pieces of supporting evidence that prove what your message is conveying. These might be drawn from be surveys or other studies, testimonials, adoption statistics, thought leader opinion, or other sources.

Core Value Proposition

Messages in hand, build the core value proposition. This is the coalescence of your messages as an overarching, customer-facing statement that can be used in promotional materials. It must be expressed in the customer’s language and must succinctly convey how the product is uniquely valuable to the prospect. Follow this format to construct it:

Lead Line

State the product’s overarching, special benefit in an attention-getting way. There’s no set format here, but it should express the idea within 3 seconds.

Value Proposition Example – Lead Line:
“Reduces cost and errors so you can focus on customer service instead of customer complaints.”

Clarifying Statement

Describe how that benefit is delivered to target customers that makes it particularly valuable.

Value Proposition Example – Clarifying Statement:
“Our mobile management solution simplifies your staff’s data collection, manipulation, and reporting where they need it most- in the field.”

Supporting Points

List subordinate benefits. Prepare 3 of your key messages in customer-facing language to use here.

Value Proposition Example – Supporting Points:

  • “Simplifies and speeds data collection in the field using RFID capture.”
  • “Seamless integration with your existing CRM.”
  • “Eliminates the most common data input errors.”

You Talk’in to Me?

You get this right only if you are laser-focused on who it is you are speaking to and what is important to them, what the other guys are saying, and the kind of language they normally use and believe. Relevant, Differentiated, Credible

Want to hear more?

Check out our video – 3 Tests for Great Product Messaging

About the Author

Bill Haines - B2B Marketing Rules
Bill Haines, Senior Principal Consultant and Trainer | 280 Group
Bill is recognized as an authority in Product Management, in B2B marketing at all levels, and in strategy. His 25+ years’ experience includes VP Product/Marketing roles within 2, $1B+ companies, within smaller firms, and within a large-scale start-up. Bill also held executive positions at a software development firm and at an award-winning marketing communications agency. He is author of the book: The 21 Rules of B2B Marketing, available on Amazon.

280 Group is the world’s leading Product Management training and consulting firm. We help companies and individuals do GREAT Product Management and Product Marketing using our Optimal Product Process™.

2 Replies to “Perfect Your Value Proposition – B2B Marketing Rules”

  • I think you are exactly right about the over-use of “benefits” and the need to make sure that those “benefits” are actually presented as clear advantages to the customer (over competition.) If I may postulate a bit here- I think the evolution of messaging goes something like this: Level one: Feature-oriented messages; Level two: Product benefit messages; Level three: Differentiated product benefit messages; Level four: Customer advantage messages (the level I think you are pointing to).

    I think a lot of leaders are so happy to get folks away from just talking about product features that they don’t push to the full extent.

    Of course, in sales presentations, going the full distance to customer-advantage messages is a must—and because the sales person should know a great deal about who they are talking to, there is no excuse for not clearly defining the advantages your product has over what the customer is currently using or is considering (as I think you suggest.)

    When executing marketing campaigns to a broader audience of potential customers (those not yet in the sales funnel), getting this specific can be more difficult though. (In part, that’s the goal of in-bound-marketing and marketing automation.) But, it’s more work for the marketer- and the fall-back position tends to be those ‘differentiated product benefit messages’.

    Thanks for the great comment.

  • Similar to this article, I usually hear business partners and competitors speak about “benefits” with a focus on those benefits, and then how they can differentiate from others. Sadly, that is what — I’m making up statistics but you get the point — 99% of the competition do: focus on benefits. As a business leader, I want my teams to focus on “advantages” … lead with “advantages” … story tell more on how you’re not just differentiated benefits, but instead advantages above your competitors.

    The above article reads like you’re building to a similar idea; however, it feels the “benefits” talk has been so consistent that it’s brushed over by potential customers. Why? Because that’s all they hear, and the sales team lose credibility. This is why we place our focus on listening to the customers and showing them our product’s advantages. Does that make sense?

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