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Today on the show we're talking about how to write your value proposition for your customers in a way that doubles as your elevator pitch using a very simple and easy-to-use template. PLUS at the end of the show there's a new Q&A segment - and I'd love to know what you think!
Why focusing on how to make money can limit your business potential
Your customer value proposition
The elevator pitch template
Peter Coultas, LA asks "How do you differentiate your business from your competitors in order to stand out?"
Elynn Quirk, Florida asks: "What are the best practices for segmenting your target market?"
(Remember, you can also submit a question and ask that I not share your last name if you prefer!)
A quote to share
What you offer to your market today will probably change - but the reason for making that offer is what will remain the same. In this fast-paced world this is our beacon in the dark - our guiding light that provides us direction as the world rapidly evolves." - Lauren Kress
Next Week's Episode:
Next week (on Monday!) we're going to start transitioning over from pillar 1 to pillar 2 with a discussion on defining your brand personality
Got a question or have some feedback to make this show more valuable for you?
G'day everyone and welcome back to another episode of Grow Your Brand! I'm your host Lauren Kress, The Business Scientist and, for those of you in Australia, I hope you enjoyed the long weekend and had a chance to relax before the real work begins...if you're not an Australian then let me just quickly fill you in on what goes on in our country for most of the summer.
So in early November we have the Melbourne Cup which basically for many businesses marks the beginning of the wind down time for the year. It's really interesting but it's sort of like this calendar milestone that once it's crossed there is a bit of a - ok let's just take care of that next year" kind of thing.
And then that kind of semi-checked out of the office mode continues right through until the end of January, with Australia day being the other bookend of the summer holiday period.
Well that's what I've noticed anyway, I'd be curious to know what other Aussies listening to this find the same thing - I mean look, I think it has changed, I actually think the break feels shorter and shorter every year, but I'm not sure if that's just me or our nation is taking it's break time less seriously...anyway, the long weekend is the reason that I didn't share my show last Wednesday which would have been exactly one week after episode 6 - also Wednesday isn't generally the best day to publish a podcast. Usually most podcast listens happen at the beginning of the week and over the weekend so I had the choice of making the show a weekly Friday or a weekly Monday thing. So moving forward these episodes will be published on Mondays but just for today, I'm sharing this on a Tuesday seeing as yesterday most Australians were down at the beach anyway.
Alright so today on the show we're talking about the value you create, the promises you make and your elevator pitch - in essence we're talking about your value proposition which simply means the value you promise to create for your customers. You can also have value propositions for other stakeholders, but for today we're focusing on your customers. So lots to get through and looking forward to chatting with you guys about this on social media or via email - however you choose to reach out to continue this conversation and as always the links to get in touch with me are in the show notes. I've also been asked a bunch of questions related to brand growth over the past month and as I mentioned in the last episode I'm going to start answering some relavent questions to the topics we're covering as we go. I'm going to try something different this episode and answer two of these questions at the end of the show.
The first one comes from Peter Coultas over in LA who asks "How do you differentiate your business from your competitors in order to stand out?" and the second question comes from Elynn Quirk in Florida who asks: "What are the best practices for segmenting your target market?" These are both pretty big questions but I will try to answer them as succinctly as I can after we finish covering our topic for today. So without further ado let's dive in to talk about the value you offer.
So how do you create value in your business?
Since I started my business a few years ago I've found that a lot of people when they're trying to get a grip of my business and what it does they ask me the question: what is your business model? Have you been asked that question before? To be honest I find it annoying and short sighted. I know that what these people want to know is what I do to make money. I see this as a very basic business 101 question.
You know like if you've been to business school and you've learnt about all the different ways that businesses can make money then it's like Ok, which box do you fit into? Look I don't want to be too hard on people that do this, I understand this way of thinking but it can be very limiting if we try to lock ourselves into just one way of making money.
The most limiting factor with this mindset is that our business is at the centre of it. You know, how does my business make money? It's not particularly inspiring to be honest with you. Instead I think a much better question to ask someone when you're trying to understand a person's business is what problem does your business solve and who does it solve this problem for? This is a customer-centred focus.
Now there's a lot more talk about customer-centric business design, but from what I've seen businesses are still really struggling with this. And I think it comes from the fact that this mindset shift hasn't happened yet. The focus is still: What does our business do to make money and not - what problems are our customers having in this rapidly changing world.
In my other podcast show The Oyster a while back I was talking to author, speaker and leadership expert Dave Clare who illustrated this point really well with the example of Kodak. Kodak for most of the 20th century had a monopoly on photography and related technology.
Their slogans over the years included "you push the button, we do the rest" and "share moments, share life". They pushed this whole idea of creating value for people by helping them to connect and capture these moments in a convenient and easy way and yet - their business model meant that when one of their own staff members, Steven Sasson at 24 years of age invented the digital camera and Kodak, not wanting to cannabilise their existing products said whilst they could sell it they wouldn't. Printing was a big part of their business model - why would they sell a camera that didn't work with that model?
What was the business model to make money out of the digital camera? Well it would have required some thinking - thinking back to that value that they supposedly upheld to help their customers capture and share moments in their life. So when it comes to the value you create don't start with how will I make money out of this, or how will I make more money out of this, start with, how will I create significant value by solving a problem for others?
Think back to your Ikigai you did in episode 2 and have a think about how this links together with this. I find it really useful to have a look at a few white papers or reports that relate to the market my client's customers are in, for instance if my client is a consultant for blue chip corporates then I'll look at some of the latest white papers that have come out from the big consulting firms about the challenges CEOs of blue chip organisations are facing.
Once we have the insight on what some of the big problems are in our area of expertise then we look at what the best methods are for solving them and what business models will support delivering these kinds of solutions. Where we want to end up is having a short customer-first elevator pitch that ties together an identifying factor of an individual in our market, the problem they need solved and a brief overview of how we solve it.
A common framework that's used for an elevator pitch and you've probably seen people using this on Facebook and LinkedIn before is "I help _____ achieve ______ by providing ______" for example, for me it is I help visionaries and changemakers achieve brand growth by providing science-led coaching and consulting programs".
This is a great point to get to because from here you can start to develop your business by diving further and further into each aspect of these three blanks it sort of gives you this one sentence to really focus your business on the value you create and the overall promise you make as a business to your customers.
Remember what you offer to your market today will probably change - but the reason for making that offer is what remains. In this fast-paced world this is our beacon in the dark - our guiding light that provides us direction as the world rapidly evolves.
For me if I promise to help my clients grow their brand, then my business needs to constantly be across the tools and technology that is changing in this space in order to best serve my customers.
If Kodak's promise was to help you create a kodak moment, then why was the digital camera not embraced?
It was in the customers best interest and it helped them to fulfil their promise. So just before we move onto the Q&As for today I want you to keep that in mind as you go back to your Ikigai and think about the value you create and the promise you make. Then have a go at writing down your elevator pitch on your brand map worksheet from episode 5.
New Q&A Segment (announced with no annoying music!)
Ok so now for our first ever Q&A segment and to my first question from Peter Coultas over in LA who asks "How do you differentiate your business from your competitors in order to stand out?" Great question to which I have a bit of a contraversial answer to. If you want to stand out from your competitors, don't differentiate yourself, make yourself distinct.
I'm not pulling this answer out of thin air, it comes from empirical evidence put forward by Professor Byron Sharp, author of How Brands Grow Part 1 and Part 2. In his first book How Brands Grow Part 1, Sharp talks about differentiation vs. distinctiveness. Let's just get clear on some definitions first - so differentiation is the idea that you need to say something about your brand in order to stand out amongst your competitors.
Every brand has some differentiation - in fact it's pretty hard to exactly copy a brand even if you wanted to - there circumstance and situations of the brand will be different and that will affect purchase, for example, I know where your cafe is and I don't know where the other one is, is situational differentiation.
But using the example from today's show, when I said I help visionaries and changemakers achieve brand growth - that doesn't mean that there aren't other brands that help the same market achieve the same outcome. And that's completely normal and fine. And usually a person who buys from me will also buy from other people who are helping in this space. What IS important is that you are distinct.
What goes into this is what we'll be focusing on in this podcast series when we get onto Brand Pillar 2 and as I've said on the show before, what makes you distinct is the cues you use to enable people to identify you in market - the language you use, the sounds you use, the brand assets you create, your voice, the colours you use, your name, your logo - all of the things that connect existing concepts with your brand so that people can learn about you, remember you and recall you when they need your help.
So to answer Peter's question - the most important thing to stand out from your competitors is to get attention from your market by talking about the things they care about, use cues that help them to connects this helpful and memorable message with your distinct and recognisable brand assets, and then consistently repeat this in market to increase the chance of people remembering who you are and how you can solve that person's problem the next time they need this solved.
Alright onto our last question for today's show from Elynn Quirk in Florida who asks: "What are the best practices for segmenting your target market?"
Another great question and something we're going to be taking a deeper dive into over the coming weeks of this show when start exploring pillar 2 on salience and distinctiveness and this is around this concept of category entry points. Just quickly, to be clear with definitions, when we talk about market segmentation we're talking about ways to divide your customers into groups who share characteristics that have behavioural and attitudinal relevance. Now when we're thinking about segmenting a market, it's important we don't make the mistake of dividing people up arbitrarily.
Like if I said well, we market chocolate bars to brunettes different to how we market our chocolate bars to blondes, I would sound nuts, because it doesn't make sense to market differently to these two groups even though each group shares a charachteristic, because this characteristic isn't relevant to the decision they make about buying our chocolate bar.
A common mistake like this that I see brands make all the time is that assume they need group millennials together. But as Mark Ritson, another well-known marketing expert has shared before, trying to predict a peron's attitudes or behaviours based on the fact that they're in the millennial generation isn't reliable.
So instead we need to take a step back and design an investigation that is going to stop us from making assumptions based on stereotypes and biases. Now when it comes to best practices here I like to use the scientific method to do this - and if you're interested in learning about this, check out my short video on business science and how to use it to grow your business - the links are in the show notes.
But to tie of the answer on the podcast here, I'll use an example to just quickly highlight the different things you want to think about. So for instance, let's say that you make an educational product for young children between the ages of 3-4 years of age.
So your main market is parents, but also other people who by products for young children, like grandparents, siblings and also daycare centres and other childcare service centres. What we want to explore in our market research is are there ways to meaningfully group people in our market together so we can better understand and therefore better influence their preferences, attitudes and behaviours. For instance - do mums have different buying habits to dads? If so, what are they?
Ask yourself: what are all the potential reasons someone would buy this product? Where are they when they want to buy this product? When do they want to buy this product? What and who are they with when they want to buy this product? This brainstorm is a great way to get a deeper understanding of the market out there and start to understand the situation, people and things that are influencing their attitude and behaviour.
I hope that is helpful Elynn and if you'd like to chat about best practices in more detail here or if anyone else listening does, there's a lot more to cover, so please do feel free to reach out to me via email. I'd love to know what you guys think of the addition of this segment to the end of the show. And let me know if you'd like me to continue these in future.
That's all from me for today's episode and I'll be back for another episode of Grow Your Brand next week on Monday morning.