Emotional benefits, customer insight, and the uniqueness of customer types: the forgotten elements of value proposition development

In this blog I want to share some insights from a recent meeting with a key specifier at one of the UK’s leading Facility Management firms. His comments emphasised the greater attention which companies need to pay to the benefits that they communicate in their value propositions.

Most people are very familiar with the concept of the value proposition. That short summary that describes the benefits of using your product, solution or service. The natural instinct when creating this is to focus on economic rather than emotional benefits as they are easier to express and defend. The other tendency when crafting it is to focus on a single benefit, particularly if this is the only one that can be supported by hard data.

When providing feedback on a client’s product he commented: “The issue that I have with the proposition at the moment is that it only expresses one benefit. I prefer those that express multiple benefits as I don’t always know when I pitch an idea to a client what is going to resonate with them. If an offering only has one benefit and the client is not motivated by this then the opportunity falls over. This is even more so if that one benefit is a cost based one, as cost is not always the great motivator that people assume. It would be much better if, your client’s product also expressed the impact that it can have on the workplace environment and the degree to which the associated improvement in air quality that it brings reduces employee sickness. Having this in my back pocket could be the difference between keeping an opportunity alive or it falling away if cost is not something that my client is being measured by.”

The first insight provided here, by one of the leading engineers in FM in the UK, highlights the need to not only express emotional benefits but to also capture the data which will allow you to substantiate such claims, as these will rightly be challenged by the knowledgeable client motivated by such benefits.  Many companies will see this data collection as an unnecessary chore, however, our experience at RIG in bringing new technologies to market is that unbiased data, verified by independent third parties, is critical in having your technology adopted.

The second learning is never to assume that you know what will motivate the customer to become interested in your product without engaging them first. In general, to understand the emotional benefits that will resonate with potential end-buyers, you need to engage with the market and give them the opportunity to educate you.

The third takeaway that is implicit in the point he makes is don’t rely on a single generic value proposition to be attractive to all customer types and market segments. Develop distinct propositions for each customer type and market segment so that they have maximum impact when you target potential customers.

The importance of the above was reinforced to me when working with a new client recently. They had already developed their initial value proposition for a new technology when we began working with them and the focus of this was on how their offering had a lower total cost of ownership than competitors. When they conducted some external research with companies who had previously adopted similar solutions, however, they discovered that reputational risk and assurance of delivery were the key purchasing drivers.

So when creating or refining your value proposition: don’t over-emphasise cost in your value proposition; don’t exclude emotional benefits; don’t forget to verify the assumptions underpinning your value proposition with potential buyers; and don’t assume that one size fits all.


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