Recently, I worked with a client to review a marketing strategy developed by their agency. The client wasn’t satisfied with the agency’s approach to their business challenges or the value proposition they had created to use in their marketing campaign.
The value proposition had to communicate to the target customer segment(s) why they should buy the product, why it was better than competitive products, and how the company that makes the product is trustworthy and reliable.
As I analyzed the client’s situation, their marketing aspirations, and the agency’s strategic recommendations, it became obvious that the client’s value proposition had not been clearly defined. As a result, the campaign did not position the client’s company or product as being unique. This was a problem because, as we all know, sameness doesn’t sell.
I worked with the client to gain a better understanding of their challenges and goals for the marketing campaign. This provided the foundation we needed to start the process of defining a clear value proposition. However, we came back to a similar solution to what the agency had presented.
As marketers, we need to know the right questions to ask to get the right answers. With this in mind, I presented a list of questions to the client and the agency to provide a more systematic method to frame the issues. We worked through these questions to ensure we had comprehensively explored the challenges, marketplace, and consumer needs. Then we revised the value proposition and positioning of both the client and their product.
I reworked the questions we found most useful into the checklist below:
# Are the benefits of the value proposition explicit and clearly stated?
# Is the target customer segment(s) identified?
# How will the customer segment(s) evaluate the value proposition?
# Is the value proposition superior for the target segment(s)?
# Is the value proposition in demand?
# Will the value proposition provide an acceptable return?
# Is the value proposition viable in light of the competition?
# Can you achieve the value proposition?
# Is this the best of several value propositions considered?
# What metrics will be used to assess the effectiveness of the value proposition?
We all agreed that the process was effective. We had managed to stretch our thinking in a new and more relevant direction. The additional insight into the client’s marketing challenges provided focus to the agency. They changed their original approach to the market with a significantly altered campaign. It communicated a clear message to consumers, while narrowing the position of the competition.
As marketers, we all work hard to help our clients define an effective competitive strategy. Having proven tools, like this checklist and its ability to formalize thoughts, is invaluable in the development of a successful marketing campaign. Competitive strategy, at its core, must explain how we will do better than our rivals by being different. In my mind, that’s what strategy is all about.