Let’s be honest. When you hear a company tout how long they’ve been in business, or that quality is their top focus, do you really care?
Let’s tee this topic up with a quick vignette…
A long time ago, buildings had no central heating or air conditioning. At best, you had some ceiling or directional fans moving air around.
Then, one day, one of the buildings got air conditioning. Which, at that time, would have been a game changer.
When that day came, the shops in that building could proudly proclaim, “Escape the heat! Come on in and look around. We have air conditioning.” That would have been a heck of a value prop. That gave them a unique advantage over their local competitors.
For a time.
Of course, the day inevitably came when every building, shop and restaurant got air conditioning. Imagine seeing a storefront sign today touting it had air conditioning. It’s no longer a distinction in certain parts of the world, right? It’s an expectation.
And that brings us to your business’ value prop. Most value props I’ve encountered as a marketing executive — and I’ve heard thousands — are the equivalent of touting air conditioning in a Manhattan shop.
- Is customer service a distinction or expectation in your market?
- Is quality a distinction or expectation in your market?
- Is your size, scale or sales model a distinction or expectation in your market?
Here’s the bottom line. You don’t get to decide whether these offer distinct value or are a basic expectation. Your customers decide that! And they vote with their time, attention and money.
Which brings us to a simple, penetrating question you can use to challenge your value prop.
“Are we selling the air conditioning?”
Are you selling something that’s a basic expectation? Or are you offering something distinct and truly valuable?
If you’re selling the air conditioning, and you’re not the first to have it, then you’re going to have a tough time generating and converting leads.
And even if you have a powerful value prop today, it won’t last forever. So keep asking this question until it reveals that it’s time to evolve.