If you want to implement an effective content marketing program in 2013, the place to start is with your customer value propositions. Value propositions are the cornerstone of your entire demand generation strategy, and they provide the foundation for your content marketing efforts. Most of the content resources you publish should be based on, or derived from, the core value propositions you offer.
Value propositions describe how your products and services create value for customers, and their importance cannot be overstated. The 2012 Lead Generation Benchmark Report by MarketingSherpa found that, on average, companies with clear value propositions enjoy lead generation ROI’s that are 117% higher than companies without clear value propositions.
Despite their undeniable importance, many companies don’t do a good job of identifying their core value propositions or creating content resources that articulate those value propositions in a compelling way. A recent survey of decision makers in B2B companies conducted by the Corporate Executive Board found that only 57% of the “unique benefits” touted by sellers were seen by potential buyers as having enough impact to create a preference for a particular seller. To put it bluntly, you simply cannot create compelling content without first identifying compelling value propositions.
Over the past two decades, I’ve reviewed hundreds of the “value propositions” used by clients. What I consistently find is that weak value propositions usually fall into one of three categories.
- They are too generic.
- They focus on product or service features.
- They aren’t supported by credible evidence.
Not surprisingly, strong value propositions exhibit the opposite characteristics. They describe specific elements of value, they focus on business/economic results or outcomes, and they are supported by credible evidence.
Identifying your core value propositions comes down to answering six fundamental questions about each major type or category of product or service that you offer.
- What are all of the significant reasons that people have for purchasing a product or service like mine? What problems or needs motivate the buying decision?
- What kinds of organizations are likely to have the problems or needs that underlie these reasons to buy?
- Who within the prospect organization is affected by each problem or need? Who has the most to gain if the problem is solved and the most to lose if it isn’t?
- What specific outcomes are these people seeking?
- What features of my solution will produce these desired outcomes?
- What will the economic benefits be if these desired outcomes are achieved?
Using these six questions to identify and describe your core value propositions will provide a solid foundation for your content marketing efforts. They help you identify your target market, and they provide the starting point for developing the buyer personas that I’ll discuss in my next article. In addition, the answers to these questions will help identify the topics that your content resources should address.
I recently published a white paper that explains how to develop compelling value propositions. If you’d like a copy of this white paper, send an e-mail to ddodd(at)pointbalance(dot)com.
Read Part 1 of the content marketing series here.