What's Your Value Proposition?


Marketing Mistake: Lack of a truly differentiating value proposition

As an experiment, take a look at your competitors’ websites and sales collateral, and you’ll probably see that 95% or more of the content will read very similar to your website and sales collateral — sharing a vast number of similar buzzwords, phrases, and language. That’s a huge problem today: differences between competing solutions or services are often very subtle and difficult to explain simply and briefly.


But the execution isn’t simple—and that’s because creating a truly differentiating value proposition that helps customers understand that the uniqueness making you best qualified to solve their problems takes careful thought and examination. It’s often easier to revert to very common, accepted industry language and buzzwords that appear professional and accurate. While they may support SEO keyword needs, they serve little to stand you apart from your competitors.


Furthermore, many technology companies—especially smaller companies—lack the marketing expertise (or the time) to really build a working, effective value proposition. The tendency for technologists is to revert to the technical details of the products or services—their technical features and benefits—which rarely serve to truly differentiate your company at the strategic decision making level.


Steps To Avoid This Mistake

Take the time to answer the big question: what makes you uniquely qualified to best solve the problems your customers are most concerned with?

This challenge sounds simple: find out what keeps your customers awake at night—and help them understand why your company is uniquely qualified to solve that problem more effectively than any other solution. But coming up with that answer isn’t as easy. Take the time to make sure your messaging truly reflects the uniqueness that sets you apart.


Don’t rely on your own opinions—talk to customers.

Talk to your customers. Find out why they really selected your products or services—not just the features and technology, but why they trusted you as their provider. Find out what made you stand out from your competitors. You may want to consider hosting a customer web survey to allow customers to provide answers more anonymously (we suggest a nominal gift incentive as well).


Avoid “me-too” speak.

It’s very easy to revert to common industry buzzwords and language (see the list of common language on the previous page). Avoid it where possible. You’ll end up with pages of “me-too” speak—language that reads just like all of your competitors’ sales messages. Look at your competitors’ websites and sales material and find out what they’re saying and how they’re saying it—and then be different.


Your value proposition truly matters—so give it your time and energy—and revisit it regularly to ensure its relevancy.

Your customers are awash in sales messaging from your competitors. It all blurs together and looks the same over time. The companies that stand out—and get the mindshare of the customer—are those that create value propositions that truly (and succinctly) get to the heart of their differentiation. As you develop and launch new products or services, and as your competitors do likewise, it is important to revisit your value proposition regularly to ensure it remains viable and continues to communicate your true uniqueness. Consider running a value proposition workshop to get your team working together to build and collaborate on the defining of your value proposition.

Here are just some of the common phrases seen often in marketing collateral and websites:


• solutions-focused
• best-in-class
• best-of-breed
• superior technology
• latest innovations
• leading-edge
• cutting-edge
• results-oriented
• high-performance
• comprehensive solution
• complete portfolio of services
• mission-critical
• customer proven
• the experience to get it done right
• powerful solutions
• latest technology advances
• best practices
• sets a new standard
• lower total cost of ownership
• accelerate business performance
• highly flexible/agile
• unified infrastructure
• reduces/mitigates risk
• thought leadership
• complete, integrated solution
• industry-leading technology


There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of this language. But too much use of common language reduces both its impact and the ability to differentiate your products and/or services.