At the start of every year you need to take a look at your value proposition to determine if it still applies to your target market, and sets you ahead of your competitors.
Lets be serious… the market is constantly changing. People are buying for different reasons today than they were last year. Not to mention, the competitive landscape is that much more crowded each year.
So right now — January 2012 (not January 2011, or January 2010) — why should a prospect choose your product/offering over all the other options that are out there?
One of the dangers that expansion stage businesses encounter is that management teams are juggling so many balls, that sometimes something like perfecting the value proposition on an annual basis may get pushed aside for the more “pressing” issues or action items.
Let’s think about that… what could be more pressing than than your businesses’ core messaging? (Particularly if it is completely off the mark because your value proposition hasn’t be improved/tweaked at all since you first open your doors).
So what is the best way to determine if your value proposition is clear, impactful and relevant? Chat (and build relationships) with these people:
- New customers in 2011 (preferably in Q4): Why did you buy from our company vs. our competitors? What about our product makes your job easier? What is the key differentiator in their opinion?
- Customers who’ve stayed on contract for years: Why have you stuck with our offering rather than switch to one of our competitors? What about your product has kept them on contract, rather than making a switch to your competitor?
- Prospects/Customers you LOST last quarter: Why did they go with our competitor instead of you? It’s important that you hear the bad as well as the good. Did you have what the lost prospect was looking for, it just wasn’t clearly articulated to them?
- Industry Influencers: Reporters, bloggers, analysts — these people are incredibly tapped into the market, and will help you understand what your company’s known for in the market… the good, the bad and the ugly.
- Your lead Qualification Team: This team talks to hundreds of new prospects each week — if they are asking the right questions, they will absolutely help you understand if your messages is resonating with prospects, and also
Moral of the story: Don’t get stuck in a rut with an outdated messaging. Use the annual/quarterly meetings that your management team is likely having this month to come to an agreement on what your company’s real value proposition is, and how it is going to be communicated to the entire organization, not to mention prospects and customers.