Reading time ( words)
As president and CEO, I know that what we do and say impacts the industry from the shop floor to the board room. I take this to heart and make it my mission to ensure that we understand the needs of the industry and communicate solutions. In my experience, having a strong value proposition creates greater engagement with your customers. This process isn’t as formulaic as engineering or building a circuit board, but there does need to be a core message. At IPC, we strive to clearly define and communicate our mission statement and organizational goals.
It starts by having a clear brand promise to your prospects and customers.
What’s in a promise?
Clearly define company and/or product benefits for your customers. In what specific ways do you help your customer reach their business goals? Rank your top three to five benefits, focusing on those with the highest impact. If your messaging is weak or unclear, prospects will pass by without stopping to dig further into what you are offering. And, the lesser known your brand or organization, the more important it is to have a strong value story. Getting this right will boost your sales and marketing efforts.
Next, your benefit statements need to be relevant to your audience and deliver quantifiable results. Measurable benefits can be increased throughput, reduced errors, improved quality, or new capabilities. For example, improving a customer’s process can boost their bottom line. Finally, identify your unique selling points. How is your product or service different than your competition? This is another way to clearly communicate your value vs. the rest of the industry.
It’s not an advertising slogan.
Value propositions are meant to be read and understood by the purchasers and influencers you are seeking to engage. It’s not an advertising slogan or positioning statement (e.g., “We’re #1 in the industry.”). Write it in the language of the customer. The language you use to describe your products and services is not necessarily the way a customer expresses their needs. Include a headline and three to five key points that deliver the message. Test it on your trusted customers to see if it rings true to them. If not, you may need to improve or adjust some aspects of your product or service. It they love it, ask if they would be willing to give a testimonial.
Consider using visuals to convey your value prop. For example, infographics can be designed to incorporate the benefits as well as the unique elements of your products and services. In today’s web-based media culture this can also prove to be a fast and effective way to reach your audience. Clarity is key and audience attention span is at all-time lows; get right to the point!
A weak value proposition may expose the need to boost your value delivered. Brainstorm ways to increase the benefits delivered to your customer. Consider areas such as performance guarantees (lower risk), customer testimonials (validation) or bundled services at a discount (lower cost) to pump up the value and differentiate yourself from the competition.
It’s a journey, not a destination.
If you struggle to do this exercise, it may be an indication you have lost sight of the value you are delivering to your customers. Or you may need to consider packaging it in a new and fresh way that speaks to your audience. Either way it’s time well-spent for your entire organization (and customers) to know your value proposition and be the brand ambassadors you want them to be.
This column originally appeared in the December 2016 issue of The PCB Magazine.