How To Develop Your Value Proposition, Interview With Bob London, CEO, Chief Listening Officers

London provides advice on how to develop a value proposition by falling in love with your customer’s problems, not your solution.

PEOPLE

TAKEAWAYS

  1. Don’t do Customer Discovery to validate your idea; do it to learn about your target audience. 
  2. Understand their 3Ps (problems, priorities and perceptions): Problems: What are the biggest things on the list? What are their top 2-3 must get done priorities? How do they perceive the world from their side?

TIMELINE

  • 01:25 – Please give us an overview of your company and value proposition? I help technology B2B companies with a strategic narrative of how they want people to think of THEM, including positioning in marketing, value proposition, messaging, brand strategy, customer experience, etc.. I spend a lot of time interviewing my client’s current and former customers around the 3Ps: priority, problems and perceptions. You learn amazing insights when you talk about their business. 
  • 03:24 – What is a value proposition and why is it so important? Value proposition is an expression of the value your customers will receive from your product or service (e.g. we will increase customer acquisition, efficiency, etc. by X). It’s something that resonates with your target customer.
  • 05:20 – Can you describe what the Customer Discovery process is? There are some good books about it. It’s part of Lean Startup. You have to fall in love with your customer’s problems versus your own product. Speak with people in your target audience who might have problems you want to solve with your product. Customer Discovery isn’t about validating your own product, that’s called research/survey; it’s about getting to know the people that you think you might be selling your product to and getting into their minds to learn their 3Ps in their job (for B2B companies), so you can build a better product that resonates with them.
  • 07:00 – How would you describe the relationship between value proposition, customers and brand? Value proposition is your statement to the customer on how they’ll benefit. Brand is how they think of you and talk about you, when you’re not around — it’s made of lots of touchpoints with your customer, everything from your website to backoffice (e.g. billing). Anyone dealing with your customers (employees or consultants), should know your value proposition. 
  • 11:00 – What does an organization do after figuring out the value proposition? That is a big challenge. The value proposition isn’t a sentence or two; it’s a description that fills the gap between what you’ve built and what the problem is out there. It’s not a product definition but why people would use it; it’s closely tied to the product. You can’t change external perceptions of your company, till you change the internal perceptions. Come up with a clear, concise message to the team, talk to them about what you have learned about the customer and why you came up with this value proposition. Then, present the new messaging, collateral, scripts…all of which reflect your value proposition in a relatable language…that’s a playbook. Each department should receive training (e.g. sales), so it could take a couple of months to fully rollout. While you’re doing that, you can be laying the groundwork with your customers (e.g. this is what we stand for, we are trying to increase efficiency). Let them know we’re listening to you…we’ve shaped our entire company around your priorities, not ours.
  • 14:48 – How would you advise startups without customers to do Customer Discovery? You can use a service such as  GLG, which costs money (minimum $10k) but saves unbelievable time, hunting & pecking since they’ll find you the perfect people (e.g. target audience, SME), to speak with. Working your way down, there’s UserTesting.com. Working further down, LinkedIn is wonderful to reach out to entrepreneurs — tell them you’re doing a research project (not something like “I want to pick your brain”). Be authentic and respectful of their time (max 30 minutes). Don’t bias the call by telling them about your solution; you only want to learn about their problems. At the very end, you can tell them we’re building a product in your space.
  • 20:00 – Can Customer Discovery also be useful for pivots? Pivots can be tricky since you don’t know if you need to pivot. You have to go back to the beginning to pivot — you ask about your customer’s business, tell us about your customers, what do you need to get better at, what’s on your whiteboard now…don’t mention your pivot. Conversations are all about them.
  • 21:25 – Takeaways (see above)
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