Whenever at the end of a long project the results have to be presented, design- and development-teams often experience a kind of helplessness, what particularly to say about the new product or service. This strategic paralysis ist absolutely understandable: The project involved every team member so much into the smallest details of every decision, that it seems to be impossible to leave that level just for the sake of a rough overview. Would this overview dignify all the hard detail work that has been done as a result of endless discussions and working hours? Nohow! In that cases as a result of a kind of integrity–mania, a dazzling array of newest features are presented. So we learned for instance, that the iPhone X will be unlocked by face ID instead of fingerprint ID. Well …
Sitting in the audience in those situations, I often whish that somebody would have had forced the team to come back to focus and express the key benefits of the new product by the help of a simple value proposition formula – just to pin a clear position and message. For those, who are familiar with this strategic marketing instrument, it’s use as a presentation shaper, must sound like putting the cart before the horse. Indeed, to bring a value proposition only into play when the presentation has to be designed, is far too late. I would rather recommend to use it earlier as a test-framework for any product-concept. If you can’t formulate the benefit and uniqueness of your concept with respect to a target group, it’s either arts or misses the point. But that’s another story, so let’s come back to the formula as presentation sharpener. When you designed in a user-centric and market oriented process, the formula is a very nice tool to shape a clear convincing statement and orientation guideline for the audience.
The formula is quite simple. Here is the basic structure to be filled:
who wants… (requirement, benefit, opportunity)
the product x… (the company, product, service) is
in the category y … (category)
offers … (core benefit).
the system is better because … (differenciation).
As an example, the value proposition of a so called “smart” water pitcher might be:
Of course a formula-shaped description tends to appear a bit stiff, so you might need to brush it up for a presentation like for instance:
Disclaimer: No, that’s not meant as advertisement for amazon or the Brita Infinity Pitcher at all. I personally neither want amazon to know my water consumption, nor do I trust even the most advanced rechargeable filter systems to eliminate the souvenirs of my water’s trip though our estimated 100 years old water pipes.
Background and sources
Those who want to delve into the developing of value propositions might want to have a look to the value proposition canvas by Alexander Osterwalder. The basis of the idea to define a relevant value of a product for a user with a special demand, refers to the Jobs-to-be-done philosophy. This is based on the perspective that customers “hire” a product or service whenever they have a task to solve. The task itself is not functional but of deeper value. Think about what jobs a bottle of wine could accomplish: Guaranteeing a nice dinner, impressing your boss’s wife without annoying that man, getting laid this night (not necessarily recommended in this order). The concentration on the “jobs” a product or service has to execute, brings value for the customer, instead of a number of functions and features.
Cheers, stay focused and don’t confuse your audience.