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Clarifying Your Start-Up’s Value Proposition

A key element in positioning your Start-Up in any industry is having a clear brand promise, or value proposition, that communicates the unique worth your Start-Up offers that customers do not—or cannot—get elsewhere.

Unfortunately, too many companies suffer from trying to play it safe and end up blending into their market’s wallpaper. The less your Start-Up is known, the more clear, compelling, and distinctive your brand value needs to be to stand out in today’s saturated business environment. Clarifying your unique brand value is not only the crux of differentiation in your market but also hones your competitive edge.

To know whether your Start-Up’s unique value is clear, ask people from outside your market to look at your website. If they can tell what your Start-Up does within fifteen seconds, your value proposition is obvious. If their feedback says multiple or different things, they use incongruent language, or it becomes obvious they cannot figure it out quickly, your Start-Up’s value is unclear. And that will adversely affect your Start-Up positioning in your market.

You’re likely thinking, wait a minute… we’ve done a lot of work on that! How can that happen? We have a website.

And that’s the point… your focus is on your Start-Up instead of your customer. If you’ve had your website for six months without looking at it, things may have changed that should be updated. If you’ve had it for longer, companies can become disassociated with their core value over time.

This disassociation can also happen with new marketing initiatives that assume the value has been communicated or push something new without building a bridge to their existing brand promise. Your Start-Ups core value will not typically shift over time, unless there has been a merger, company sale, or market disruption. It can also happen that a market moves on and your Start-Up’s core value needs to pivot to become relevant again.

What brand value looks like

If your promise of brand value doesn’t stand out in your market from your competitor options, your ideal customers likely won’t be able to find you. Your Start-Up business value is shared through words and narrative voice, images, color palette, offerings, and calls to action, and everything else your brand is and communicates in any way. Normally, there is a leading value proposition that captures your unique brand promise in an unmistakable way.

For example, for SavvyX, “Start-Ups can become Grown-Ups faster and more cost-effectively.” A reveal of our progressive value includes not only the what and why for Start-Ups to accelerate their growth, but also how our system strategically connects the dots in a progressive way and delivers practical, proven tools to help make it happen. For our customers, the SavvyX brand value looks like, “this is the fastest way to accelerate time to value by leveraging our current resources.”

Chances are your customers don’t wake up and think about your Start-Up and how you can help them; instead, they think about their problems and how they need to solve them. Having a clear and distinct value proposition makes it easy for your ideal customers to see your value as it relates to their challenge as well as against your competitors. 

Your team may not know your Start-Up’s brand value

Ask your employees to state your Start-Up’s brand value in one sentence. If they are not able to do that, or share an aspect of your Start-Up’s market differentiation in a concise way, they have either not been educated, have gotten too far away from it in their role, or don’t think it matters to what they do daily. No matter which it is, it’s time to build a better relationship between your employees and your Start-Up’s unique brand value.

When it comes to communicating your Start-Up’s brand value, there are a few ways you can use… so let’s define the difference between a value proposition, a positioning statement, and a marketing message.

A value proposition speaks directly to your ideal customers by stating the actionable value they will receive through your Start-Up’s offerings. A positioning statement is targeted to specific buyer personas or market audiences. Marketing messages are used to communicate with buyer personas and audiences through a variety of formats. Each has its purpose and, ideally, your employees will understand the distinctions.

To know you have the right brand value for your Start-Up, your brand promise should state the unique, relevant, quantifiable value delivered to your customers in way that make it clear they should buy from your Start-Up vs. any other competitor. Speak your value proposition out loud to see how it feels to you and how others respond to it. If it doesn’t resonate as true within you, or others do not respond as you would expect, there is a disconnect.

Two ways to create a clear value proposition

There are two ways you can develop a unique value proposition.

The obvious place to begin creating a B2B value proposition is to understand your ideal customer audience and their needs. This means doing research to understand your customer’s pain points, challenges, and aspirations. You can analyze metrics from your website and previous marketing campaigns, how you measure against competitors in the market, understand industry trends, and use demographic data to surface needs and goals. Your value proposition should substantiate why your ideal customers would buy from you vs. your competitors as well as why they should buy a particular offering from you vs. any other offering available elsewhere, and even why they should click on your ads vs. any other ads.

As you develop your value proposition, consider which benefit(s) of your offerings are perceived as most valuable to your ideal customers. It is not enough to look from the inside out; you need to see objectively what your customers are seeing about your company in the context of your market. For example, you may think the extent of your solution’s capabilities are absolutely compelling while your customers are more interested in simplicity, low price, or ease of use. The only way to know what value proposition is most appealing to your target audience is to test it.

One way to test your value proposition’s appeal is to use pay-per-click ads which, essentially, use 130 characters to attract online interest. Write each ad with the same value proposition but with different spins to emphasize different value ‘angles’ to see which draws greater attention with click-throughs.

Once you know the value angles that attract the greatest interest, you can create a sentence that speaks directly to your ideal customer—your value proposition. Remember to keep your Start-Up’s B2B value proposition simple, concise, and easy to understand. Your goal is to communicate your value in a way that is compelling and memorable. This statement will become your Start-Up’s guiding principle throughout your brand visibility, marketing campaigns, and personal interactions to build relationships with your ideal customers.

Second, you can work with the SavvyX Methodology to clarify your value proposition. Why invest in a system filled with tools? Because you gain a systematic progression built from years of real-world eXperience that you can leverage quickly to compress your time to value with predictable results.

Think of it as the difference between driving your car in the express lane vs. taking the bullet train to get where you’re going—it’s an accelerated journey that lets someone else do the driving. Plus, as a passenger, you don’t have to worry about spilling your coffee.

If you haven’t already, check out the SavvyX Methodology here.  

About Lynn Scheurell

Lynn Scheurell is an authority on strategic business growth. Lynn is known for her unique perspective, positive empowering mindset, and abilities as a high-value communicator. A natural teacher, she translates complex concepts into simple clarity for practical insight and meaningful connections and relevant eXperiences. 

Photo: Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash