Value Propositions Produce Instant Relevance

by TedV

Prospects Will Instantly Relate to Your Value Proposition – OR – You’re Doing It Wrong

Selling with the Value PropositionRelevance Marketing and Selling point to the fact that any sales or marketing message must be expressed so prospects see themselves solving their problems, reaching their goals and objectives, and enjoying the success that comes from doing so.

But you need a systematic way, a framework, a method to easily and naturally express these positive outcomes. If you have a patented exclusive capability that people are dying for then study the Unique Selling Point that will be the subject of my next post. If not, read on below.

Stand Out From the Similar with Value Propositions

In my last article I referred to a Jill Konrath article and call her the Queen of the Value Proposition. In her book, “Selling to Big Companies” she states, “A Value Proposition is a clear statement of the tangible results a customer gets from your products or services.”

Konrath also states, “Your offering is simply a tool. Decision makers care only about the results your offering delivers for them.”

Do you market or sell products or services that have similar competitors? This is the vast majority of business out there today, and it is tragic that few sales and marketing efforts “speak to prospects” using a Value Proposition type of message. Everyone thinks they express themselves that way but very few prospects think it.

Therefore, you can often convert prospects to clients of your company’s wares by wording everything you say around tangible results in the true language of the person you are talking to (writing for, emailing, copywriting and designing an ad for).

Let’s Use Commercial Printing As An Example

Commercial printing is a great industry that needs to sell using the Value Proposition. Printing brochures, magazines, packaging, etc. is a custom manufacturing process – every print project is different from the previous and the following projects. Before the computer revolution and what has grown out of the desktop publishing software of the late 80′s, printing was an art, practiced by amazing craftsmen, and hugely profitable for printers.

All of that has changed, and the number of commercial printers today is roughly 60% to 65% of the number in 1985.

Most print buying organizations view it as a commodity, a cost of doing business. They only buy it because it is necessary, and becoming less necessary as the internet provides more and more information print use to, to an audience increasingly wanting to view the info on screen rather than on paper. Therefore, most print purchase negotiations devolve into a price war – ergo print buyers have every reason the think print is a commodity.

To sell printing as a Value Proposition the sales rep must sell what print gives the originator of the request to buy printed material. A print buyer is a purchasing agent. All things of perceived manufacturing abilities being equal, print is bought on lowest bid. However, someone in the organization asked the buyer to make the purchase.

The originator of the print request wants to disseminate knowledge to an audience. That knowledge falls into two primary categories: 1) giving prospects reasons to buy or 2) giving existing constituents/clients more information about current situations or new info about changes.

The print sales rep must become the provider of new and more efficient ways to increase sales or better inform the audience. The solution is to present logical, tangible ways print can be a part of an overall success to the originator – and to provide as many if not all of the parts of the success as possible, above and beyond the printed pieces.

There are three primary tools to use when successfully expressing a value proposition:

  1. The Customer Testimony
  2. Pertinent Statistics
  3. Business Language of the Prospect

1) Customer Testimony – A well phrases testimony in the words of a satisfied client can really capture attention. That’s why I never let satisfied clients write there own testimonies. They always say something like, “They’re a bunch of great folks who sell us good stuff we like a lot.”

Though I have never sold printing, in my many years of selling to printers and related industries I have heard dozens of print sales reps talk about the Big 3: High Quality, Quick Service, and Competitive Prices. From the biggest to the smallest they all claim to deliver all three. With this highly competitive market they deal in, talking about being better that another printer in any of these areas will be disbelieved.

• Having a hugely well known client state that they like the quality of a certain printer’s work might, just barely MIGHT hold a little sway – probably not.

• A testimony about Medal of Honor level service could cause a print buyer to pause for a few moments, maybe….

• The second a print rep mentions pricing in any way, the best he/she can hope for is, “I’ll put your name in my bid list with 37 other printers to see how you guys do on a small project.”

Testimonies about print must be about anything but the Big 3. The originator of the print purchase request wanted to accomplish something. Discover that decision maker’s original goal and the results the printed piece accomplished and have the person give a quote about that.

I interview satisfied clients, ask a well-thought-out list of questions, record what they say and tell them at the end of the interview that I will write up what they said to help other prospects become clients as well. I tell them I’ll send them what I write up so they can be sure I didn’t miss something or incorrectly write down what they expressed. I have done this for a number of my consulting clients, and their customers have never rejected the idea. They usually want to make their testimonies as helpful as possible. (Call or email me to do this for you.)

2) Pertinent Statistics – These are comprised of Industry Statistics and Client Results Statistics. Industry statistics are great, but too often everyone is spouting the same details from the industry mouth piece. Many stats become cliche – something true but trivialized from over use. The trick is to always find fresh stats, dig down to get the data unused by your competitors and make it pertinent to the situation.

Perhaps the best print industry organization for hot facts about successful print projects is the Digital Printing Initiative – (They used to be referred to as the Print On Demand Initiative, hence the acronym.)

PODi’s website points to a new report by their managing partner on response rates to 1-to-1 printed marketing. The first paragraph states that “relevance can deliver over four times the response of static.” By relevance they mean personalized and variable data printing.

Great news, that’s a real number to help sell higher priced variable data digital printing. So every print sales rep runs out and tells their print buyers. The print buyer yawns politely and asks them to bid on a new project with the 37 other printers on the list. The originator of sales and marketing projects including print will probably find that fact interesting, but he/she already knows variable data printing works.

The smart print sales reps, who probably have some title like “Marketing Projects Coordinator” on their business cards, will dig down to the next-to-last paragraph and will read, “The highest response rates, as expected, are seen in the data gathering (19.1%) and loyalty (25.2%) segments.”

First off, the numbers 19.1% and 25.2% are very believable statistics. The phrase “over four times” is suspect at best – though the 4x number is not disbelieved, it is not compelling. AND the mention of using advanced personalization in loyalty programs and data gathering is a conversation with a marketing project originator, not a print buyer.

Client results statistics are the positive outcomes you helped your own clients derive from working with you. Here is where your value – YOUR VALUE – is really embedded in the mind of the prospect. And please make your stats as specific as possible.

To hitch hike on the statistics above if the printing rep had a client he/she had helped with a particular project and could report any statistics like from PODi above, those are the stats to lead with in a value proposition.

It’s not about printing, but a client of mine recently did an energy savings study that saved 5% on electricity. That number killed me – 5% dead on is not believable. We did the monitoring over several times until we could state “field tests showed electrical savings of between 4.8% and 5.2% on qualifying equipment.” Those are viable statistics.

3) Business Language of the Prospect – The final major way to make potential clients take notice of your statements, has to do with using the language of the business. This can be a green light to many for useless verbal diarrhea. It is too common for sales and marketing to use their own product knowledge and words, assuming it is the business language of the prospect. Your product’s features and benefits are NOT the language of your prospects’ businesses.

Let me repeat: Language about a product or service is NOT the business language of a prospect.

Business language in this case is the language used by each individual company, focusing on their specific needs, problems, goals, objectives and personalities in that company. Also, a business’ language is the language your prospects use when they talk to their prospects and customers.

In regards to printing, if they buy mailers for a sales campaign talk about the goals and thinking behind the campaign. Talk about the success of the Call to Action, or the demographics related to the variable data used. Discuss segmentation of their prospects. Also, talk to a prospect about their prospects succeeding when they buy your prospect’s products.


The Value Proposition is the best tool for making yourself stand out from your competition. Even those trained to use it usually don’t. It needs to become a force of habit for your.

All you have to lose is the opportunity to NOT make the sale.


Related Articles

The “1st 7 Seconds Rule” for Brochures – Part 1

The “1st 7 Seconds Rule” for Brochures – Part 2

Think, Think Again, and then ReThink to Relate to Your Prospects

Photo Credit to PinkMoose

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Saurabh Khetrapal October 5, 2012 at 12:02 pm

“It is too common for sales and marketing to use their own product knowledge and words, assuming it is the business language of the prospect”

You have to make sure you and your prospects are speaking the same language it’s almost as if the conversation didn’t happen. It doesn’t matter what jargon you use if it isn’t resonating with your target audience.

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