What Is a Unique Value Proposition?

How Does a Value Prop Help My Startup?

A value proposition is a promise of value to be delivered, communicated, and acknowledged. It is also a belief from the customer about how value (benefit) will be delivered, experienced and acquired.

A value proposition can apply to an entire organization, or parts thereof, or customer accounts, or products or services.

Creating a value proposition is a part of business strategy. Kaplan and Norton say

"Strategy is based on a differentiated customer value proposition. Satisfying customers is the source of sustainable value creation."[1]

Developing a value proposition is based on a review and analysis of the benefits, costs, and value that an organization can deliver to its customers, prospective customers, and other constituent groups within and outside the organization.

It is also a positioning of value, where Value = Benefits - Cost (cost includes economic risk).[2]

What Is a Value Proposition?

A value proposition is a statement which identifies clear, measurable and demonstrable benefits consumers get when buying a particular product or service. It should convince consumers that this product or service is better than others on the market.

This proposition can lead to a competitive advantage when consumers pick that particular product or service over other competitors because they perceive greater value.

The phrase “value proposition” (VP) is credited to Michael Lanning and Edward Michaels, who first used the term in a 1988 staff paper for the consulting firm McKinsey and co.

In the paper, which was entitled “a business is a value delivery system”, the authors define value proposition as “a clear, simple statement of the benefits, both tangible and intangible, that the company will provide, along with the approximate price it will charge each customer segment for those benefits”.

In a modern, clear cut definition, Labeaux defines a value proposition as a statement that clearly identifies what benefits a customer will receive by purchasing a particular product or service from a vendor. According to Hassan, however, there is no specific definition for Value Proposition.[3]

Value Proposition Overview

Creating and delivering value proposition is a significant issue that marketing planners need to consider in planning strategies. Value propositions vary across industries and across different market segments within an industry.

Capon and Hulbert linked the success of firms in the marketplace to the value provided to customers.[4] They introduced a principle of customer value, with customer insights driving the company's marketing activities.

Customer value should also drive investment and production decisions, because customers perceive value on the benefits of the product or service they receive.

Consequently, as the environment changes, and the customer experience and their desires change, the value they seek changes. As a result, companies are pressured to invest more resources in marketing research in order to gain deep customer insights, improve value proposition.

Consumers are always looking around for the best possible deal at the best quality and how these products or services will contribute to their success. The value proposition is the promise that the business will give the consumer to assure best possible value.

The value proposition is a creative statement that depicts the unique selling point. Without this statement you lose an opportunity to tell consumers why they should pick you over competitors. An important goal in a business is to convince customers that they are getting many more benefits.[5]

Coming from a customer's perspective, buyers are not only asking how this product is different to one they may already be using, but what value this product or service may have. Customers are looking for answers that may improve or replace products or services.

Customers will never buy a product or service if they don’t feel like they are receiving the best possible deal. Therefore, the value proposition is important to businesses and their success.[6]

The value proposition is to differentiate the brand from competitors.

To understand and get an idea about the value proposition it is important to analyze the business through the marketing mix: identifying what the product or service is, the price of the product or service, where this will be sold, and how this product or service will be promoted.

Identifying these key questions helps clarify and make the value proposition more obvious. Another strategy that has been used to help process learning and growth of a business is the balanced scorecard.

This concept was developed by Robert Kaplan and David Norton in 1990, to help communicate value proposition in a way that businesses can understand. The maps create a visual representation of the businesses objectives and goals so it becomes more approachable.[7]

Through these theories the proposition becomes more obvious and displays to consumers why this product or service is so special to the market. Once businesses determine what makes this item or service so exceptional compared to competitors, it can begin to guide a business more clearly.

This can lead to marketing concepts and ideas. The value proposition helps the business understand what their primary focus and goals are within the business and help to understand the consumer's needs.

When creating a value proposition it is important to think about these key questions: What is the product or service? Who is the target market? What value does the product or service provide? How is this different from competitors?

Many businesses that can answer these will have a relatively strong value proposition as they know how their product or service differentiates from competitors. But it is more than just understanding and recognising what makes them different; it is about creating a statement that engages customers to purchase goods or service.

There are many benefits that the value proposition can have on a business. These benefits include a strong differentiation between the company and its competitors, increase in quantity, better operations efficiency and increase in revenue. By also creating a more personal and honest relationship with consumers through the value proposition also gives them another reason to choose you. These benefits will help the business grow and succeed in the market.

The Value Cycle

Value preposition is by definition what the company offer differs from its competitors and explains why the customers buy from the company. Furthermore, it defines the relationship between: the performance attributes of products or services, the fulfillment of the needs of particular customers and the total cost.

Osterwalder and Pigneur state that the value proposition must be studied through its entire value life cycle.[18] Value elements can be created in each of the five stages of the value life cycle. These stages are: value creation, value appropriation, value consumption, value renewal and value transfer:

Value Creation: The value creation can be best described as a set of interdependent activities that add value for the customers to the company products and services. The traditional view of the value creation process doesn’t allow customers to take part in feeling the value. Marketing and research and development are mainly responsible for adding value at this stage based on historic data and observation.

However, in modern times, the customers of several companies are included in this stage. Nowadays the stage of value creation is the essential point of any business. Creating value for customers helps the company to sell its products or services, while at the same time it makes the investors happy.

Moreover, as the value for the customers increases, the revenues together with the stock prices of the company increase. This guarantees the future access to capital that can be used for future investments and creating even greater value for the customers.

There are three main components in value creation network:

Key partners: The companies use the resources, knowledge and capabilities of their partners. The most important partners that a company can have are the owners, employees, suppliers, the government, education institutions, etc.

Key activities are the activities that needed to be done in order to create a value proposition for the customers from the available resources. It shows all of the crucial activities and links between the company and its partners that are necessary to create value for the customers.

Key activities can be divided as:

Internal key activities are the activities that are made inside the organisation

External key activities are the relations between the organisation and its partners

Key resources are the main assets that are needed in the process of adding value to the product or process for the customers.

Value appropriation: value can be created in this stage by developing, improving and facilitating customers' buying experience. This can be done in two steps.

The first step is improving how transactions are made.

In this step, companies are trying to facilitate buying for customers. An example for this can be Amazon.com’s one click buying which allows customers to make a purchase using one click. Facilitating purchases of goods can include innovative price negotiation mechanisms, contract management, convenient billing and attractive financing mechanisms.  

The second step is improving fulfillment. For some companies, this step is very important and they adjust their whole value proposition to fulfillment.[18]

Value Consumption: This is core to the value proposition. At this stage, customers see and feel the value through the actual use of the product or the service. Value is maximized when value proposition`s aspects match the customer`s needs.[18]

Value Renewal: In some cases, it is possible to renew value during or after its consumption when value is used up, is dysfunctional or when it expires. Value renewal also includes steadily updating value, where by adding new features to existing value preposition customer value is increased.[18]

Value Transfer: At the last stage of the value cycle, there is a possibility that a customer transfers the acquired value after its consumption. Reason for this might be loss of value in value proposition, or because transfer of value will result in higher benefits for the customer.[18]

Business Strategy and Marketing

Businesses can use the value proposition to not only target customers, but partners, employees and suppliers. The creative statement should be able to persuade other businesses to create an alliance, which will be helpful in the long run. Joining up with another business can be a very powerful strategy.

When businesses align their strengths seem to stand out, and their weaknesses become less noticeable. This makes their products and services stand out to consumers.

Creating an alliance with another firm can increase a businesses brand awareness; create a larger customer base, new insights on products and access to new technologies to improve how the business runs. This strategy creates a competitive advantage over other competitors.

The value proposition should be able to influence new employees or motivate existing employees to support the businesses goals and plans. Employees can improve the business client base and build a stronger relationship.

Treating employees well, by offering bonuses or special deals they are more likely to take on more responsibility and promote the business they work for. This alliance within the business can promote products or services through word of mouth or social media.

The employee's positive attitude towards workforce and products will interest new customers.

Suppliers should want to supply the business with products or items needed for the service by their thoughtful and creative statement. Businesses can increase their chances of the products they want and when they want it.

By thinking of a well-constructed well-thought-out value proposition it can lead to a very successful business. This can lead to possible alliances with suppliers that will support and help the firm with supplies and products that are needed to help improve the position of the business.

Footnotes

  1. Kaplan, pg. 10
  2. Barnes, pg. 28
  3. Hassan, A. (2012), "The Value Proposition Concept in Marketing: How Customers Perceive the Value Delivered by Firms", International Journal of Marketing Studies, Vol. 4, No. 3.
  4. Capon, N., & Hulbert, J. (2007). Managing Marketing in the 21st Century: Developing & Implementing the Market Strategy. Wessex, Inc.
  5. "What is value proposition (VP)? - Definition from WhatIs.com". SearchCIO. Retrieved 2016-04-01.
  6. "5 Keys to a Customer Value Proposition". LinkedIn Pulse. 2014-03-22. Retrieved 2016-04-01.
  7. Koch, Christopher. "Q&A with Robert Kaplan And David Norton on Strategy Maps and IT's Link to Corporate Strategy". CIO. Retrieved 2016-04-01.
  8. Lanning, M. J. (2000). Delivering Profitable Value. A Revolutionary Framework to Accelerate Growth, Generate Wealth, and Rediscover the Heart of Business: Perseus Book Group.
  9. Barnes, C., Blake, H., & Pinder, D. (2009). Creating & Delivering Your Value Proposition: Managing Customer Experience for Profit(pp. 30-31). United Kingdom, London: Kogan Page Limited.
  10. Neil Rackham, John De Vincentis. Rethinking the Sales Force; Redefining Selling to Create and Capture Customer Value, McGraw Hill, 1999. ISBN 0-07-134253-2
  11. Lanning, Michael. Delivering Profitable Value, Basic Books, 1998. ISBN 0-7382-0162-6
  12. Anderson, James; Kumar, Nirmalya; Narus, James. Value Merchants, Harvard Business School Press, 2007. ISBN 1-4221-0335-8
  13. Winer, Russell S. (1999). Marketing Management. Prentice Hall, Inc. p. 64. ISBN 0-321-01421-9.
  14. Moore, Geoffrey A. (1991). Crossing the Chasm. Harpers Collins. pp. Ch. 6.
  15. Geracie, Greg (August 15, 2013). The Guide to the Product Management and Marketing Body of Knowledge: ProdBOK(R) Guide (1 ed.). Product Management Educational Institute. p. 279. ISBN 978-0984518500.
  16. Rackham, N., & DeVincentis, J. (1998). Rethinking the sales force: Refining selling to create and capture customer value. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
  17. Barnes, C., Blake, H., & Pinder, D. (2009). Creating & Delivering Your Value Proposition: Managing Customer Experience for Profit(pp. 40-41). United Kingdom, London: Kogan Page Limited.
  18. Jump up to:a b c d e Osterwalder, A. & Pigneur, Y. (2003), "Modeling Value Propositions in e-business", ICEC ’03 Proceedings of the 5th international conference on Electronic Commerce, pp 429-436
  19. Zeithaml, V (1988). "Consumer Perceptions of Price, Quality, and Value: A Means-end Model and Synthesis of Evidence". Journal of Marketing. 52 (3): 2–22. doi:10.2307/1251446.
  20. "How to Get Startup Ideas". paulgraham.com. Retrieved 2018-11-30. The way to get startup ideas is not to try to think of startup ideas. It's to look for problems, preferably problems you have yourself.
  21. de Ternay, Guerric (2018-10-27). "The Value Mix". leanpub.com. p. 5. Retrieved 2018-11-30 – via Leanpub.
  22. Lindic, J.; Marques (2011). "Value proposition as a catalyst for a customer focused innovation". Management Decision. 49 (10): 1694–1708. doi:10.1108/00251741111183834.
  23. Baregheh, A.; Rowley, J.; Sambrook, S. (2009). "Towards a multidisciplinary definition of innovation". Management Decision. 47 (8): 1323–39. doi:10.1108/00251740910984578.
  24. Kambil, A., Ginsberg, A. and Bloch, M. (1996), "Re-inventing value propositions", Working Paper IS-96-21, New York University, New York, NY.
  25. Wang, W.T. and Wang, C.C. (2009), "An empirical study of instructor adoption of web-based learning systems", Computers & Education, Vol. 53 No. 3, pp. 761-74.
  26. Tornatzky, L.G. and Klein, K.J. (1982), "Innovation characteristics and innovation adoption-implementation: a meta-analysis of findings", IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, Vol. 29 No. 1, pp. 28-45.
  27. Pitt, L.F., Watson, R.T. and Kavan, C.B. (1995), "Service quality: a measure of information systems effectiveness", MIS Quarterly, Vol. 19 No. 2, pp. 173-87.
  28. Van Raaij, W.F. and Pruyn, A.T. (1998), "Customer control and evaluation of service validity and reliability", Psychology and Marketing, Vol. 15 No. 8, pp. 811-32.
  29. Atkin, D. (2004), The Culting of Brands: When Customers Become True Believers, Portfolio, New York, NY.
  30. Kambil, A., Ginsberg, A. and Bloch, M. (1996), "Re-inventing value propositions", Working Paper IS-96-21, New York University, New York, NY.

References

  • Cindy Barnes; Helen Blake; David Pinder (3 October 2009). Creating & delivering your value proposition: managing customer experience for profit. Kogan Page Publishers. ISBN 978-0-7494-5512-5. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  • Robert S. Kaplan; David P. Norton (1 February 2004). Strategy maps: converting intangible assets into tangible outcomes. Harvard Business Press. ISBN 978-1-59139-134-0. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  • Lindic, J.; Marques (2011). "Value proposition as a catalyst for a customer focused innovation". Management Decision. 49 (10): 1694–1708. doi:10.1108/00251741111183834.
  • Baregheh, A.; Rowley, J.; Sambrook, S. (2009). "Towards a multidisciplinary definition of innovation". Management Decision. 47 (8): 1323–39. doi:10.1108/00251740910984578.
  • Kambil, A., Ginsberg, A. and Bloch, M. (1996), "Re-inventing value propositions", Working Paper IS-96-21, New York University, New York, NY.
  • Barnes, C., Blake, H. and Pinder, D. (2009), Creating and Delivering Your Value Proposition: Managing Customer Experience for Profit, Kogan Page, London
  • Wang, W.T. and Wang, C.C. (2009), "An empirical study of instructor adoption of web-based learning systems", Computers & Education, Vol. 53 No. 3, pp. 761–74.
  • Van Raaij, W.F. and Pruyn, A.T. (1998), "Customer control and evaluation of service validity and reliability", Psychology and Marketing, Vol. 15 No. 8, pp. 811–32
  • Pitt, L.F., Watson, R.T. and Kavan, C.B. (1995), "Service quality: a measure of information systems effectiveness", MIS Quarterly, Vol. 19 No. 2, pp. 173–87.
  • Atkin, D. (2004), The Culting of Brands: When Customers Become True Believers, Portfolio, New York, NY.
  • Tornatzky, L.G. and Klein, K.J. (1982), "Innovation characteristics and innovation adoption-implementation: a meta-analysis of findings", IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, Vol. 29 No. 1, pp. 28–45.
  • Capon, N., & Hulbert, J. (2007). Managing Marketing in the 21st Century: Developing & Implementing the Market Strategy. Wessex, Inc.
  • Hassan, A. (2012), "The Value Proposition Concept in Marketing: How Customers Perceive the Value Delivered by Firms", International Journal of Marketing Studies, Vol. 4, No. 3.
  • Osterwalder, A. & Pigneur, Y. (2003), "Modeling Value Propositions in e-business", ICEC ’03 Proceedings of the 5th international conference on Electronic Commerce, pp 429-436
  • Zeithaml, V. (1988). "Consumer Perceptions of Price, Quality, and Value: A Means-end Model and Synthesis of Evidence". Journal of Marketing 52 (3). American Marketing Association: 2–22. doi:10.2307/1251446.

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Jason Quey

I am the CEO and Founder of Growth Ramp. I enjoy helping high-growth startups on their journey from idea to scale.

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