The marketing value proposition consists of highlighting the benefits that an offering or product will bring to a customer segment (read our sheet on B2B marketing segmentation) or to a particular persona (read our sheet on B2B personas).
B2B Value Proposition
These benefits must be different from those put forward by the competition.
To formalize a B2B value proposition, proceed in stages
- Identification of customer needs (or problems and shortcomings to be solved see Solution Selling approach): this phase is strategic. It consists of analyzing which elements of differentiation customers are sensitive to. This phase requires you to get as close as possible to your customers (or prospects). With the intention to get them to express themselves on what is really important to them. Of course, collecting in parallel the opinion of your sales people will bring you valuable additional information.
- The solution provided to these needs: here it is a matter of defining in words understandable by everyone. Without jargon, what the offer, the product, the service in question consists of.
- Benefits: they must be expressed as simply and as distinctly as possible. These benefits can be expressed in many ways: by the price criterion, performance (speed, lower energy consumption…), ergonomics (ease of handling, maneuverability…), technological innovation, customization possibilities…
Wherever possible, every benefit should be subject to factual, indisputable, binding evidence.
The limitations of theoretical approaches
As Paul Millier reminds us in his book “L’Anti-bible du marketing et du management : 30 principes fondamentaux à l’épreuve des faits” published by Pearson, it is essential to remember that the value a supplier sees in an innovation or a benefit is not always the same as the one the customer sees.
Any innovation always causes a more or less strong disturbance to the players in an ecosystem. Functioning like a natural environment, a market seeks above all to preserve its balance.
Paul Millier uses the example of the benefits of electric control (as opposed to the traditional “joystick “1 ) in the Airbus. During the tests, the pilots realized that the electric control made them lose what represented, since its origins, the very symbol of aviation: the control stick.
What to do in such a case? Above all, do not force the issue. You have to let the customer appropriate the innovation at his own pace and substitute another psychological benefit for the one that has been lost. And above all, listen, listen and listen again to your customers.
Trends and innovations
As we saw earlier, the supplier must – after a thorough listening process – adapt to the needs of its customers. Paul Millier, in his book “L’Anti-bible du marketing et du management : 30 principes fondamentaux à l’épreuve des faits”, reminds us that customers can also contribute to the process of developing a value proposition.
He cites the example of helicopter rotors (the hub that supports and steers the blades of a helicopter). In 1955, the number of parts in the Alouette’s rotor was 370, which required up to one hour of maintenance for one hour of flight. A manufacturer proposed to replace the metal parts by composite parts, lighter but more expensive.
Another advantage was that these materials could be stronger than steel in one direction but also more flexible than steel in another. This led aircraft manufacturers to rethink the design of the rotors themselves. To arrive, for example, at the Ecureuil helicopter (1980) with only 70 parts.
According to Paul Millier, it is absurd to think that only the supplier must evolve its offer in the direction of the customer’s needs. By reasoning in this way, we deprive ourselves of a large part of the value that the customer can potentially find in the offer.
Tools and Methods
- The first step is to identify the personas that your value proposition will address. This value proposition will moreover have to be adapted on a case-by-case basis. To each of your personas so that the benefits put forward stick perfectly to the customers’ expectations.
- The second step is the identification of the needs of your customers. Beyond their needs, the blocking points, the obstacles and pain points that they encounter in achieving their goals.
- The third step is to write your value proposition to provide evidence to each of the benefits.
You can use the Value Proposition Canvas proposed by Strategyzer. Which is a plug-in of the Business Model Canva created by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur: