Can your value proposition be your strategic weakness?

On a recent project, we were tasked with helping a client grow their product sales. They intended to spend quite a huge sum on marketing and publicity to drive up sales. Before accepting the client’s brief, we asked our client some very critical questions:

‘Is marketing and publicity the real solution to your problem?’

‘What assurance do you have that on investing such a huge amount on a marketing campaign, will yield results?’

As is our common practice, we started from the basics. Using our growth-strategy framework we audited the brand and the product. In doing so, we realized that the value proposition that was being sold by our client turned out to be a strategic weakness of the product.

Our client, a producer of staple food products tied its value proposition to some genuine healthy “benefits” of the product. Their product was sold as a fresh product that lacked preservatives. While these were good qualities of the product, it also implied the product had a shorter shelf life, the side effect mainly being that suppliers would be afraid of stocking their product. Consequently, consumers will not be given the chance to purchase their product if retailers were afraid to stock the product.

Therefore the real challenge affecting their product sales was not with their secondary consumers, who care about the brand quality and product nutrition but with intermediaries such as suppliers and retailer (their primary target), who were more interested in a product with a longer shelf life rather than a fresh product with a shorter shelf life or better still a fresh product with considerably long shelf life.

This typical scenario taught us that as a business what you consider your value proposition can be your strategic weakness and may be the key reason why your business is not reaching her target audience and no amount of money spent on publicity and brand awareness can fix this.

But first what is a value proposition?

“Your value proposition is a clear statement of the value or benefit that your business will provide to your prospective clients in exchange for their money.  It is the reason you are in business.  It also embodies your competitive advantage. “

It answers the question of – What do you have to offer, why should your target clients care about it, and why should they do business with you as opposed to your competitor?  Your answer to these questions will determine if you are going to meet your growth target by next quarter or close shop in the next 6 months.

For our client, it became obvious that first fixing the product to be ‘supplier-friendly as well as consumer-friendly’ and repositioning their brand to appeal properly to the needs of their target audience became more paramount as no amount of marketing and publicity will drive sales for a product if suppliers are afraid to stock it.

In summary, what you consider as your value proposition may not be best suited for your target audience, the current position of your business and the kind of market you are in.

This thinking and approach powers how we deploy our products: Jumpstart, Growth, Content and Loudspeaker in enabling our clients to grow and succeed.

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