Originally published in the Boulder Daily Camera and the Longmont Daily Times-Call.

When my son was small he was fond of saying “why”. All of the time.  Over and over again. Many of you have been there, are there or will be there. I always tried to answer, but often found myself thinking, “because!”

Consumers increasingly want to know the “why” behind your business. It’s important to provide it. “Because” won’t work in business any more than it works with parenting. I’ve talked about value propositions for years. Why? You need to convince your customers and prospects that your service or product will be more valuable to them than similar offerings from your competition.

You know why your company is great, but do your potential customers know what sets you apart? A good value proposition can give you an advantage over your competitors and is often what your prospects use to evaluate you. For many consumers, your value proposition is the first thing they encounter when exploring your business or organization. So, having a clear, concise value proposition is more important than ever.

When creating a value proposition, it’s important to identify all of the benefits your product or services provide. Describing what makes these benefits valuable, in a easily digestible way,  helps your value proposition make an impression. It’s also critical to know your customer and prospects’ primary needs and desires to determine how your value proposition provides a solution. Consumers are also interested in knowing why your business does what it does, why it was founded, why you are making a difference and what your team brings to the table.

Great value propositions share the same characteristics. It must be concise and easy to understand. It must define what you do. It must explain how your product or service resolves any potential pain points. It must be displayed prominently on your website and it should answer the question “Why should I buy from you instead of your competitors?”

That’s a lot to fit into a concise statement, isn’t it? So, it should come as no surprise that creating a good value proposition is a struggle for most people. Research indicates that the main reasons that businesses don’t promote their value propositions are: their company hasn’t identified one, their company doesn’t clearly express it and/or their company isn’t testing or measuring its value proposition. I would add that many businesses simply don’t know they should have one.

There are common mistakes that can get in the way of creating good value propositions. The first is not having proof of what you say. Take Zoom video conferencing, for example. Its claim that it is the “#1 video conferencing and web conferencing service” is backed up by a Gartner analysis. But you don’t have to have a study by a leading IT research and advisory firm to back up your claims. Case studies and customer testimonials can also give you the proof you need.

Muddied messaging leaves people wondering what you are trying to say. Have you ever visited a site or read an ad and been left with the question, “why do I care?” You need to clearly communicate exactly what sets you apart.

Failure to test your value proposition may lead to heartache. If you make a claim, ensure that it is so. To understand how your proposition resonates, utilize focus groups and surveys so you can refine and adjust if needed.  If your value(s) don’t resonate with your target audiences, you would benefit from understanding “why”.

Lately I find myself asking my grown son, “why?” a lot. Most often, his response is “look it up”, but sometimes he actually answers the question!

Stacy Cornay is the owner of Communication Concepts Public Relations & Advertising.  She may be reached at 303-651-6612; scornay@comm-concepts.com; www.comm-concepts.com; Facebook.com/Communication Concepts; Twitter @CommConceptsPR; or LinkedIn.

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