Take your value proposition from big yawn boring to sizzling!
Ready to claim the #1 Winner spot in the value proposition game?
Is your value proposition so bland and boring that even you feel like yawning after you recite it?
You’ve heard that you need a compelling value proposition but coming up with one is easier said than done.
This is a practical guide on how you can draft it yourself.
USP, Value Prop, Positioning Statement, What’s The Difference?
They kind of all sound like the same thing, don’t they? We’ll tease them apart.
Your company’s value proposition articulates the benefits your customers will get using your products or services.
Your unique selling proposition (USP) describes what’s, well, unique about your offering.
Your positioning statement captures how you’d like to be perceived by your customers.
Ok, all done with definitions. In this article, we will focus on drafting your value proposition and USP. We are also going to create a super combo of a value prop + USP because in real life, you just use them together when you are talking with customers.
Let’s move on to the juicy parts.
Is Your Value Prop Falling Flat?
Here’s how you can tell if your value prop is in dire need of a makeover.
- None of your sales team members is using it.
- If you ask 10 employees what it is, you’ll get 10 different answers.
- Your customers’ eyes glaze over when you share it with them.
- Right after you proudly recite it to a customer, they ask: “So how is this product/service different than so-and-so competitor?”
Queue in the kiss of death after that last one…
Common Value Prop Mistakes
See if you can recognize any of these common no-no’s in your company’s value prop.
- It’s not a sentence or two; it’s a whole paragraph!
- It talks about some obscure spec (e.g., 2 nm resolution) only your R&D team cares about.
- It does not spell out your claim to fame, what’s unique about the product or service.
- It’s all about the features and not the benefits.
- You’re using company and marketing lingo but not the customer’s language.
- The same value prop could easily be on your competitor’s homepage and fit just fine.
- It’s worded in such a weird way that nobody would ever say in a real conversation.
I could go on and on just by recalling examples of value props I have come across over the past couple of decades but I think you got the gist.
Let’s Make Your Value Prop Better
There is something about your company that is your claim to fame. That has worked. That has brought you success. That has brought you customers and revenue. Or if you’re pre-revenue, something that prompted you to start your business. Unless you’re just starting out and don’t have any customers or revenue yet, focus on what has worked. Not what you want it to be but rather what IT IS.
Now take that secret sauce and try to figure out what about it got you customers. Why did the customers care? What problem did it solve for them? Ideally, you want to ask your customers and use their words in your value proposition but you can go through the exercise on your own, especially if you have regular interactions with your customers.
If you need some brainstorming prompts, here is a list of ideas to work through. Do your customers buy from you because you offer something uniquely valuable to them in one of these areas?
- Performance specification
- Published data, clinical outcomes
- Customer service, technical support
- Company location, proximity
- Product design, ergonomics, footprint, space
- Certification, compliance
- Product life
- Parts, accessories, maintenance
- Upgrades, hardware/software
- Quality, defects, quality control
- Delivery, lead time
Make sure you don’t stop when you identify the feature your customers like. Translate it into the benefit they get from it. But don’t stop there either! Keep going, you’re almost there. This benefit they like, what kind of problem does it solve for them? One last step now. This problem you solve, this pain they are experiencing without your solution, what kind of emotion does it evoke for them?
If you can figure out the basic emotion your customers are experiencing without your solution, you can really connect with them with your message because they are going to feel understood. Your message will resonate and stand out.
Go From Blah to Compelling Value Proposition Example
Let’s look at some real examples, human mesenchymal stem cell products. By the way, I have no affiliation whatsoever with the companies I am going to use examples from.
One company (that we’re not going to name) lists the following benefits:
- “Ready to use
- Each lot tested and verified to differentiate down each of the three lineages (adipogenic, chondrogenic, osteogenic)
- Multiple donor availability”
These are all great benefits but there is no mention of who these cells are for (target audience), what problem they would solve for the user, and what’s unique about these cells. The company does have a more detailed description about the cells but it’s loaded with specifications and it does not address any of the gaps above.
Here is another example, also for human mesenchymal stem cells.
“RoosterBio® hMSCs simplify and accelerate process development. To efficiently get you to billions of cells, we start with a guarantee of 10x expansion within 1 week. After donor selection, our hMSC bioprocess system has been designed for product developers, supporting small translational research and a streamlined path to seeding large bioreactors.”
Now, this one tells you a bit more, doesn’t? It’s not talking about boring cell specs but rather zeroes in on who these cells are for, for what purpose, and what result you are going to get. While a clear statement about what’s unique is missing, this statement hits on a lot of the points we’re going to talk about.
There are a handful of key elements you want to hit with your value prop and USP. Don’t make it a laundry list. A combination of 1-4 key benefits is all you need. Here is the formula:
What it is + Who it’s for + What problem it solves + 1-4 key benefits + At least 1 that’s unique
That’s it! The key elements are not in any particular order. You need to craft statements that make sense and sound natural so don’t try to force them in a certain order.
But What About the FDA?
Yes, we are in a highly regulated industry. If you’re a medtech or biotech company, odds are you’re developing a regulated product that requires clearance, approval, or some other kind of blessing from a regulatory body.
And even after you have obtained marketing authorization, you need to be super careful with labeling and claims. There is not a whole lot of wiggle room there. You can even talk about your device or biologic before clearance or approval. But there are certain conditions that have to be met and specific language that needs to be used. That’s all.
Let’s look at a product example from Medtronic. The description below is for the Evolut R System, a transcatheter aortic heart valve.
“The Evolut R system is built on the CoreValve platform including a supra-annular, self-expanding nitinol frame with a porcine pericardial tissue valve. The Evolut platform delivers industry-leading hemodynamics, maintains the lowest delivery profile, and is indicated to treat the broadest annulus range* on the market.
* Broadest annulus range based on CT derived diameters.”
What do you notice here? I am seeing some USP statements: “industry-leading”, “lowest delivery profile”, and “broadest annulus range on the market”. Boom! Readers are super clear on what is unique, better, and different about this product. Of course, and you can bet your bottom dollar on this, Medtronic has a vault of data supporting these claims. You can’t just make claims like these before you think your product will deliver.
So the point is that even if you’re working with a regulated product, you can still craft a compelling value proposition and USP. Just remember that these claims need to be thought about at the beginning of the game, during design, validation, and clinical trials because you will need to collect all the supporting data to back them up.
Value Proposition Pro Tips
Let’s close with some pro tips.
Pro Tip 1: Always couple your value proposition with a problem you’re solving for the customer and evoke EMOTION! Make them hyperaware of the pain they’re going through without your product or service before you describe how you alleviate that pain.
Pro Tip 2: Make it short and memorable. Use simple words and phrases that are conversational.
Pro Tip 3: Ensure alignment with your company ideals and values. If out-of-this-world customer service is your customer promise and your response time is a week, something is not right with this picture.
Pro Tip 3: Test it out! We’re scientists and engineers, right? Hypothesis testing is our thing. And smart marketers are testing pros as well. So first, check if your sales team it. If you start seeing consistent use of your value prop and USP by your sales team, that’s a sure sign you’re on the right track.
Then notice how your customers respond to it. Do they look puzzled? Are they nodding in agreement and understanding? What are their follow up questions or comments? Do they ask for clarification? Reword your USP so the message is clear. Do they reword it using different terms? Use their language next time! Do they ask how you’re different than a competitor? The uniqueness of your statement did not come through.
Keep tweaking until you have come up with a statement that resonates with customers, is crystal clear, and evokes relief and/or excitement by your customers because you just solved one of their problems.
If you feel you’re too close to it and need some help figuring this out, reach out at info(at)accessbiomedsolutions.com and we will tackle this together in a 2-hour meeting.