Capturing buyers' attention: What makes a value proposition compelling?

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By Barbara Bix -
Today, more than ever, companies are seeking value from every purchase. Without telling buyers upfront how their organizations will prosper from your solutions, it’s difficult to capture their attention—let alone close the sale. So, having a compelling value proposition is more important than ever.

Today’s entry describes the elements of a compelling value proposition. We’ll follow up in subsequent posts by discussing steps you can take to create and validate your organization’s value proposition. Then, we’ll discuss how to leverage your value proposition in all your marketing initiatives.

Value propositions promise quantifiable outcomes

A value proposition is a description of how prospective buyers will materially benefit from using your products or services. Better value propositions address quantifiable outcomes that buyers can expect as a result of working with you.

Examples of “quantifiable outcomes” include: attract more clients, garner a price premium, increase customer satisfaction, improve quality, improve productivity, and decrease costs. That said it is not necessary to cite the degree of change prospective buyers can expect—since that may vary from account to account.

In today’s market, it’s not sufficient to craft a value proposition. Your value proposition must be compelling to elevate your message above the clutter.

Compelling value propositions address pressing concerns

Compelling value propositions speak to the audience’s most pressing concern—rather than a lesser need. They capture attention because the issues that they reference are already top of mind. To ensure your value propositions really resonate with your audiences it’s essential to first determine precisely which problems—and even what aspects of those problems--are most troubling to decision makers.

Compelling value propositions are never vague

A compelling value proposition is specific. People’s needs are tied to particular circumstances at a particular point in time. Value propositions fail when they try to be all things to all people.

Compelling value propositions focus on a single benefit—else the value that will compel buyers to act gets lost in the clutter. Too often, companies try to accomplish too many goals in a single communication and end up overwhelming the receiver.

Compelling value propositions are clear and concise

A compelling value proposition is clear and concise. Everyone’s busy. No one has time to deconstruct others’ communications. Beware of the technical jargon or excess prose that will blunt the impact of your communication.

Compelling value propositions motivate action

A compelling value proposition creates a sense of urgency that motivates buyers to purchase sooner rather than later. They do so by alluding to a fleeting opportunity or a negative consequence that will result from inaction. A “market window” is an example of a fleeting opportunity. Missing that window is a negative consequence that could result from inaction.

Compelling value propositions mitigate risk

A compelling value proposition mitigates risk and addresses reservations. Left unaddressed, reservations diminish the receiver’s perception of value.

Compelling value propositions accelerate sales

Compelling value propositions can have a dramatic impact on sales. Take Google for example…

Google AdWords offers one of the most compelling value propositions that I’ve seen: “Reach people actively looking for information about your products and services online.

It’s specific: advertisers will reach people who are actively looking for information about their products and services. It’s clear and concise. It focuses on a single benefit and promises a quantifiable outcome: better quality leads. Better quality leads are a pressing concern for almost any business.

Google follows this value proposition with a second value proposition that clarifies the first one: “Easily control costs--pay only when people click on your ad.”

While the first value proposition promises buyers results, the second addresses a major reservation. It assures advertisers that they won’t have to pay to reach prospects who aren’t looking for their solutions.

It takes perspective--the customers' perspective--to develop compelling value propositions

Google AdWords has generated significant revenue for Google by delivering a service that prospective buyers find extremely valuable. It seems so simple. Yet, other search engine companies had the same opportunity and failed to capitalize on it.

Before AdWords, most search engine companies focused on selling banner ads. They were seeking products they could offer to generate revenue. Google, however, went back to customers’ needs—and came up with a truly compelling value proposition.

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