The Small Business Advisor

What do Unicorns and Value Proposition Have in Common?

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The short answer: They don’t exist!

Now, I’m sure that sounds like lunacy to you. After all, there are books, courses, training manuals, blogs, articles, websites and even retreats devoted to creating value propositions.

Not to mention it is drilled into every marketer’s and salesperson’s head by their company: Lead with your Value Proposition.

It would be devastating to learn that it had all been a waste. That it had all been adream. That you’d been chasing unicorns

So you might want to sit down for the rest of this article!

The idea of the Value Proposition (also known as the Unique selling Proposition) is that you can say something to someone upfront and immediately have them say “I need that.”

That’s like reading just the “Objective” part of somebody’s Résumé and saying“Forget the other applicants. This is the guy we want!”

It’s not how people’s brains work.

Trust me, if people’s brains worked like that, you could simply walk up to people and say “I work for ABC Widgets. Our widgets produce the lowest amount of waste and are cheaper than any competitor when bought in bulk” and close sales all day long.

But you can’t. And you know you can’t. And you have used Value Propositions and USPs and dumped them, and tried new ones and dumped those, and tried other new ones…

And what’s really sad is that most marketers and salespeople are like junkieswhen it comes to Value Propositions and USPs; they know it’s not good for them but they are addicted.

“Hey man, you know where I can score a dime bag of Value Prop?”

By now, your head is spinning. And that is good. You need to shake old ides offbefore you can look at new ones.

So why don’t Value Propositions or USPs work?

The reason they don’t work is because you have no idea what someone else finds valuable!

Everyone is unique. Everyone has their own value system.

Too some people a sunny day is a blessing. To other’s it is a skin-cancer-causing nightmare.

Who is right? Both of them. And that is our problem.

Values are unique. And you can’t “hack” them.

Even the best Value Proposition is still totally subjective and circumstantial.

They only “work” a small fraction of the time. And that only happens with theright person, at the right place, at the right time, with the right need, and theright authority or influence.

Good luck getting all those ducks to line up for you.

The majority of the time, your Value Proposition actually creates subconscious resistance and turns people off. Even if the person could be a client, you have now INCREASED the distance between you.

So what is the answer? If Value Propositions and USPs don’t work, what should you do?

Tease them with context.

Example: Your company sells IT services.

So your Value Proposition or USP might sound something like this: We guarantee 99% up time and the fastest response to your service calls possible.

Sadly, all your competitors say the same thing, so your Value Prop or USP is now DOA.

But, what if you said something like this: We’re like the Santa Claus of IT Services.

Then be silent.

Now the other person’s mind doesn’t have enough information to quantify orqualify you. It is confused. It needs more information.

So he asks “What does that mean?”

NOW WE’RE TALKING!

The other person’s mind has switched from Dismissal to Curiosity. That tiny change is the difference between being valuable or being worthless to the prospect.

You have teased them with “Santa Claus,” and contextualized them with “IT Services.”

Now you can go on and build your metaphor: Santa has billions of houses to visit but he still gets it done in one night, just like us, etc…

And the prospect is building THEIR OWN value of you internally!

That is the secret. Prospects create their own values.

So when you facilitate them building your value to them – instead of force feeding them the wrong one – you win.

Have fun!

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