Why Should They Choose You?
If you don’t know why customers should choose to work with you, how are they going to know?
One of the most important pieces of information you need to know is why someone should buy from you. Our industry is changing and evolving at an accelerated and alarming rate. Once upon a time, being able to source product was enough. Is it still enough today? Will it be tomorrow?
Begin by creating a one-sentence answer to the question, “Why should your ideal customer use your service?”
First, are you clear on what you and your company have to offer? Sales 101 courses talk about the importance of knowing your company’s features and benefits, but customers also need to know what kind of experience to expect. When you think through those answers, put them into the context of your ideal customer.
Features are factual descriptions of the attributes of your services. Few people want to buy features; they want to buy the benefit or result. But you still probably spend a lot of time talking about your features, such as:
- Dedicated, personal service
- Access to more than 900,000 products
- Industry knowledge
- Professional certification
Benefits describe what your service does for the customer. This is how you increase happiness or reduce pain in their business life. Benefits form the core of your value proposition. To develop your list of benefits, imagine all the ways your services can make prospects’ lives better.
For example, review the features above and describe how those can improve a prospect’s life. For instance:
- Service. You always know who has your back and cares for you.
- Access. You always have access to the best, newest and most recognized solutions.
- Knowledge. You’ll receive best practices and proven case histories, and benefit from our focus on continuous improvement. Plus, our dedication to continuing education gives you peace of mind that our solutions combine creativity with business acumen to achieve results.
The experience is how you make the customer feel. It is the emotional reason why people buy from you. Do you make them feel smart? Important? Safe? How would they describe how working with you makes them feel? The emotional reasons why people choose to work with you are important elements of your personal branding and market position.
Let’s see how features, benefits and experience might be described for a typical small promotional products distributorship.
Service: Small Distributor
Feature: Personalized Customer Service
Benefit: Personal attention from the owner
Experience: Feel valued with an ongoing personal relationship focused on results.
Become very clear about your ideal customer. Have you ever thought about what your best customers have in common? What do they value? What do they want? What do they need? What do they fear?
Keep in mind that the things your customers want are driven by emotion. Some examples:
They may want to look good to their boss and their peers. They may want to have access to the latest trends, fads and information. They may want to make a difference by giving back to the community, being socially responsible or environmentally aware. They may want to grow their business’s staff size, position or profit. Customers want value, personalized solutions, great communication, listening and understanding, collaboration and new perspectives.
These are the things they need to get done. Keep in mind that no matter how good you are, no one will buy from you if they don’t believe they need what you offer. Customers need to achieve certain outcomes within a budget and specified timeframe. They need to match their brand standards in terms of style and color. They need to eliminate or mitigate risk. They need your solution to fit into their bigger picture.
Make no mistake, the fear of making a mistake is very much a part of your customers’ decision-making process. You must be able to convince them that when they work with you, they won’t need to worry about mistakes or other concerns such as fear of missing out, fear of loss and fear of the problems caused by switching. These are all reasons prospects may hesitate to buy from you. You must be able to communicate a promise of improvements that overcome the perceived safety of the status quo.
A proven way to develop a strong value proposition is to ask existing and potential clients about their wants, needs and fears. Remember, you need to not only be better than your competition, you need to have a better solution than other alternatives available to your prospect, such as choosing other advertising media and not using promotional products at all.
Writing Your Value Proposition
1. Think in terms of your ideal customers. What are their needs, wants and fears? What are they struggling with? You will be able to identify your customers easier when you’ve defined what they look like, what they believe in, what values they share with you and how they behave. What adjectives do you use to describe your best customers? Open-minded? Fun-loving? Metrics-driven? Value-oriented? Price-savvy?
2. Describe what problem you solve for your customers. Remember, no one has a promotional products problem—they have a problem with increasing sales, reactivating dormant accounts, losing great talent, not attracting top talent, creating awareness in a crowded market and a thousand other problems. Does your customer need a complete concept-to-completion assistant? Do they need fresh ideas or are they simply looking for someone who can get them what they demand? Do they need lots of options? Do they need program expertise or help defining and measuring results? Do they need a lot of customer service, support and hand-holding? What descriptive nouns can you use to describe what they need? Brilliant ideas? Accurate delivery? Design expertise?
3. Speak in terms of the benefits that working with you will deliver, relevant to the needs and fears of your ideal customer. Tell your prospects how you will make them feel and how working with you will make their lives better. You want them to know that they are making a wise decision in trusting you. What can they expect to receive from you? How is it different from anything else they can find in the marketplace? How can you be different from those who say they deliver good quality at a good price?
4. How do you deliver what you have promised? For example, if you promise that you will deliver fresh, exciting ways for your clients to grow their business, you need to be able to say how you’re going to do that. It might be by being an award-winning creative professional who has worked on top national brands, having years of industry experience or being a former buyer yourself.
5. How is what you do and how you do it different or better than the competition? Instead of complaining about how a competitor consistently beats you on price, work harder to differentiate your company. Does your competition care about product safety? Does it go the extra mile on customer satisfaction? If it’s an internet-based company, does it offer assistance from a real person at all times?
6. What do you offer that the competition just can’t touch? Say it loud and say it proud. What makes your company unique? What makes you the best and only choice for a particular type of customer?
Put It All Together
Here’s how to phrase your value proposition.
For the (fill in the blank with a description from No.1) customer needing (fill in the blank with your answer from No. 2), my company delivers (fill in the blank with your answer from No. 3), and does this by (fill in the blank with your answer from No. 4). Unlike the competition which (fill in the blank with your answer from No. 5), I offer (fill in the blank with your answer from No. 6).
There, you have it. Your very own value proposition.
Need more help? Here’s an example based on the above method: For the value conscious, marketing-savvy customer needing sales promotions that get results, my company delivers the newest, trendiest and most buzzworthy promotion ideas and does this by staying current with new opportunities while being grounded in over two decades of successful promotion planning. Unlike the competition which rises and falls quickly and depends on me-too trends, I offer a fresh approach that generates brand excitement and creates results.
Paul A Kiewiet, MAS+, CIP, CPC, is the executive director of the Michigan Promotional Products Association and an industry coach and consultant. He is an inductee into the PPAI Hall of Fame and former PPAI chairman of the board.