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The Battle for Customers

Do your employees, all of your employees, know what makes your company fundamentally different from all of your competitors? Can you tell me in 30 seconds why I should buy from you over your competition? Don't read any farther until you do this.

How did you do?

Here's another test. Ask 5 to 20 of your employees to explain why a customer should buy from your company rather than the competition – do they know your company's Value Proposition? How many different answers did you get? It is probably somewhere between 5 and 20 answers. Most people can’t explain what their company does – they don’t know or can’t articulate the company’s Value Proposition. I slightly exaggerated to illustrate a point, but in the many years I have spent advising and writing about customer driven strategies, I have seen a consistent pattern: employees’ inability to clearly articulate their company's Value Proposition.

Why can't your employees do this after all the training they have been through? Haven't they been told, haven’t they seen it in the company newsletter many times over?

The Value Proposition clearly and concisely describes what you do by answering these three important questions:

1. What product or service does your company sell?

2. What product or service does your company sell?

3. Who is your target customer for this product or service?

4. What makes your offering unique and different?

A Value Proposition is a clear, compelling and credible expression of the experience that a customer will receive from your value-creating offering. The way ti achieve this is by aligning all your resources to deliver your value proposition - the difference between just saying what you're going to do and actually doing it.

Your Value Proposition provides a statement of business strategy; more specifically, a statement of how your business uses all its resources to deliver superior value to its customers, profitably.  Your Value Proposition should be validated on a regular basis (yearly), using multiple market research techniques (surveys, focus groups, personal interviews, observation, etc.) to ensure that the information collected reflects the customers’ shifting needs with continuing accuracy.

Don’t confuse the Value Proposition and Unique Selling Proposition (USP); they are not the same thing, but they do need to fit together. Think of the Value Proposition as a competitive strategy term which explains the basis for how your company plans to win in a chosen market by adding value to the customer over and above the price the customer pays. A USP, in contrast, is a direct message to a targeted group of prospects and customers that explains what and why they should buy from you.

You need to ensure that all your employees understand the benefit your company is trying to deliver to its customers, and what makes you different from your competitors. And they must be able to talk about that difference in a meaningful way – using the customer’s language. All employees must know the words to use, how to get your customers involved in understanding how you are fundamentally different from your competitors, why they should buy your products and services and most importantly, why they should stay loyal for life.

Lastly, provide your employees with the tools needed to properly do their job. Take advantage of new-hire and recurring product and service training, company, divisional or regional meetings to invest in the on-going development of your people and help them succeed. Their success in this arena is critical to your success. I’ve worked with companies who invest a great deal in their employees and others who spend a bare minimum. The difference in their overall results is always significant.

Today’s business environment is more challenging and competitive than ever before. That means all your employees need to be able to give your customers a clear and compelling reason to do business with you rather than someone else.  Communicating that message is a critical priority for any effective business, from an entrepreneurial upstart to a Fortune 500 company. If your own people do not believe in it and cannot consistently articulate it, what are the chances that customers will get it?


The purpose of an enterprise is to create and keep a customer.        Theodore Levitt


About the Author:  Ken Wilson: Strategist, marketing guru, educator, facilitator, author, university lecturer and consultant, he can be reached at ken@wmg-mn.com  or 763-476-2216

Copyright ©2017 by Ken Wilson    All rights reserved
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