Much has been written about the importance of having a Value Proposition, Personal Brand Statement or Elevator Pitch as it is also referred to. It’s important to have a way of introducing yourself beyond the standard name, job title and company name model that is boring and dull. E.g. “Hi, I’m John Doe, an engineer at Accurate Engineering”.
An introduction that differentiates you by focusing on unique skill sets, talents or abilities are powerful and engaging. E.g. “Hi, I’m Fred Summers, an Urban Planner at New Cities Planning. I design vibrant and safe communities for children, families and seniors.” The second example creates curiosity, is unique and provides a platform for conversation and interaction. An interesting self-introduction is a powerful tool to use at networking events, business meetings and when prospecting for new customers. If yours is too generic or the equivalent of bad vanilla ice cream, use the following guidelines to create a value proposition that has impact, causes the listener to ask questions and positions you in a dynamic and distinctive manner.
Given we no longer do business exclusively in a bricks and mortar environment, also consider how to apply these ideas to your LinkedIn profile, Facebook page, Twitter and anywhere else your brand and profile reside.
Answer the question to define your unique offering and then include all, or parts of this sequence into your conversations and discussions with customers or people you need to influence or connect with.
1. Who are your target customers or market?
Whom do you serve? What makes for an ideal customer regarding industry, location, size, values or culture? It is important to clearly define these. This will enable your prospect to think, “He/she works with companies like ours and people like us.” This creates confidence and builds a basis of trust for continued discussions. Knowing your target customers also enables you to craft messages that will resonate with them. In addition, the more you can position your specialization for a particular buyer set, the more you differentiate yourself.
2. Define the customer needs, wants or challenges you address.
Make a list of typical and even unusual business problems or customer needs you have addressed. Define how you helped customers by applying innovative thinking, problem solving or by using other unique skills or knowledge you possess. Be sure to highlight things that give you a competitive edge and differentiate yourself from the competitors. No Vanilla allowed. Make your summary the equivalent of a dynamic flavor such as Chocolate Ripple or Toffee Crunch. This is also no time for false modesty. Confidently stating what you are able to deliver, or have done that is out of the ordinary, builds your credibility in the customer’s mind and helps them understand how and where they can utilize you and what you offer.
3. State your ability to solve customer needs.
Confidently state the quantitative (financial, measureable, objective) and qualitative (emotional, relational, subjective) outcomes you have provided to existing customers. Be able to give specific examples of how you have provided value through innovative thinking or collaboration with content experts or technical specialists that resulted in unique or unexpected positive outcomes.
I encounter many people and companies that say “We offer such a broad range of services, products or solutions that we don’t want to limit our offering or present a narrow scope of solutions.” My advice is, when crafting your positioning statement, choose one or two key customer issues you regularly encounter and represent the most common concerns you address. Remember, just because YOU address similar issues every day doesn’t mean it’s common for your customers. Don’t come across as flippant or aloof when addressing every day issues common to you. Show interest and become fascinated in your customer’s challenges, issues or dreams. Do this and they will see how different you really are.
Your perceived value to your customers often lies in the way you communicate and connect with them. Create confidence in your abilities by being sincere and professional in your approach and interactions and asking intelligent and thought provoking questions. They may perceive their situation as unique or perplexing when in reality you can offer a simple and inexpensive solution that will amaze and delight them and make you look like a hero.
4. Present a unique and appealing offer.
Back to point number 3 – don’t tell them everything you know or everything you can do. Focus on what sets you apart. What is the VALUE you provide? Value is generally more subjective and intrinsic. Focus on the unusual or unique aspects of your products or service approach. It could be the culture of your company and its commitment to client engagement and service or the non-traditional way you solve problems and work with customers.
Make sure what you present passes the WIFFM (What’s in it for me?) test. That means presenting your value in a powerful and customer-centric approach and framing your offerings within the context of the customer needs. It’s not about you until you make it all about them, then they will realize your value.
5. Proof of concept.
Can you demonstrate that your approach or strategy has been effective in solving similar problems for others? Can you substantiate your claims? How do they know that what you say will actually happen?
We’re now at a very important point in creating your value proposition. You must have evidence! Do you have customer testimonials, endorsements or reference letters that verify what you are claiming? Unfortunately the great majority of people do not. There is a saying that goes “if you don’t blow your horn, there is no music”. It is incumbent on you to provide “proof of concept”.
Build your proof file by preparing reference stories, creating case studies and assembling relevant data to provide evidence to substantiate your claims. No one knows what you have done as well as you do. Take the critical step of capturing and owning what rightfully belongs to you.
6. Distinction – be contrarian if you dare!
Why is your offering preferable to other options for solving the customer’s need? Do you have something unique that is worth sharing? How can you highlight the ways you’re distinct from others? What about taking a contrarian approach?
Hendrick’s Gin, which is produced in Scotland, takes a bold approach by stating “It Is Not For Everyone”. Once they have your attention you want to find out why not? They even go as far as inviting you to “Join the SOCIETY of the UNUSUAL”. If you fancy yourself as being non-traditional and someone who wants to be associated with a unique and exclusive group you may just want to buy their gin.
What about you, can you make a bold claim that makes you stand out from the crowd? Is there something about you that is unique and even exciting and compelling? Drop the vanilla and create your own unique flavor that may not be for the masses but provides a unique and fulfilling experience for those who chose to engage or hire you.
As you build your value proposition and create a positioning statement, take care not to build just one canned statement that you use with everyone, have several customized alternatives that present you in your best and most powerful manner. One caveat, ensure that your elevator pitch or value proposition doesn’t come across as too smooth or contrived. Make it real and believable. These six components are building blocks that you can use to build the story you want to deliver about what makes you unique, valuable and distinct. Remember – there is only one you. Go and be the best you possible!
To help you craft your positioning statement use the attached profile builder.
Elevator Pitch Exercise