Value Proposition Sells, Not Technology

Here’s My Marketing Plan

I met with the marketing lead of a tech startup recently. He was developing his 2018 marketing plan and wanted my feedback. The company’s business model was B2B with a focus on “industry distributors” as the sales force to the end customer, employers. My first question was, “What is your value proposition?”

He had a great timeline that included the appropriate different campaigns, content, and targeting. He told me the areas he would be focusing on. It was all good stuff but with a limited budget, it would not maximize the results. He was highly underselling the value of their disruptive offering by promoting the wrong elements.

What Problems Does It Fix

The most important of all marketing dimensions is your actual value proposition. What is it that your product or service does better than anyone else? Why would someone want to buy what you have over what they are currently using? If you can answer those, without listing features, you have your value proposition. As innovation guru, Clayton Christianson would ask, “What job does it do?”

This should answer questions such as: Does it make my work easier? My life better? Is it cheaper? Can I expect higher performance levels using it? Particularly with B2B models, you are displacing an incumbent and must show a significant improvement to be worth the extra hassle of dealing with a new vendor.

Technology for technology’s sake is not good.

Although people may be wowed by it, your technology is not the value proposition, it simply enables it. Technology for technology’s sake is not good. It must solve a problem. The more widespread the problem, the higher the potential for success. The better it solves the problem the more people will be willing to spend.

If you can clearly articulate the one to three customer “pain points” solved by your solution, you can get a buyer and you can easily enable your salesforce. The harder it is to articulate a value proposition, the more difficult it will be to sell your product.

The Value Proposition Sells Itself

As you can see, your go-to-market strategy should be a natural extension of your product development. Even if your salespeople can sell ice to an Eskimo, it’s better to give them messaging that makes their job easier and you will sell much more. It can be as simple as a clever rewording of the information you uncovered during the early design thinking stage. You will have an excellent message.

With everything in development, it should be tested. It’s very easy to get early feedback by meeting face-to-face with the sales members and key customers. Do this at least once prior to campaign launch to ensure success.

Lead with what your solution can do, not what makes it do it. 

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