Exactly What DO You DO? Developing a Value Proposition

Whether you’re at a networking event, at a party, or out walking the dog, once you tell people you are a freelancer or a small business owner, the question inevitably comes up: well, what do you do (or what is your business about)? Once you have developed a relationship with people, especially with your clients or customers, you can be pretty sure that they know what you do; but what happens when you meet someone for the first time? How can you communicate what you do, and more importantly, why you do what you do clearly and succinctly? The #1 task for any businessperson is to get more clients or customers, so you must be able to describe your products or services in such a way that people understand what you have to offer and how your offerings add value to them.

Value. That word is the important difference between talking about the features of your product or services and the benefits that your products or services bring to your client or customer. Many people have been taught to memorize a scripted “elevator speech”: a statement about you or your company that explains the basics in the time it takes the elevator to get to the top floor. The elevator pitch is always a rapid-fire statement that a sales person or business owner says exactly the same way to every person met in every situation. An elevator speech or pitch is a simple statement, whereas a value proposition is a collection of the reasons why someone should buy from you. With a value proposition, you can more effectively communicate the different components of value that are applicable to different situations. A value proposition positions you or your company in a compelling way that shows how your client or customer will benefit from buying from you.

Think about the last time you went shopping for a car or toured houses you were thinking about buying. You had in mind a list of important features that you wanted in next car or home, but what you were really picturing in your mind was what experiences or benefits you would receive after your purchase.

Make a list of the “features” of your product or service, then go back and list the benefit to the client or customer of each of those features. That writing exercise is the just Step One of the development of your value proposition: why would you clients or customers want to buy products or services from you instead of the guy down the street? Step Two…next week!