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Don't Make These Value-Proposition Mistakes

by Kathryn Roy  |  
December 1, 2009

You think your value proposition is as strong as it needs to be because you are making sales, right? But you may be selling in spite of, not because of, your value proposition.

When you talk to a prospect on the phone or when you meet with a prospect, you have a few minutes of that person's attention.

When a prospect glances at a tradeshow sign, a piece of collateral, or a Web page, you get a fraction of that time and attention to make a powerful connection. Your value proposition has to be clear and succinct enough to succeed in those instances.

In B2B companies, there are always more tasks to complete than there are resources to do them, so many deliverables are judged "done" as soon as they are "good enough." But you should be willing to invest more effort in your value proposition, to make it clearer and more relevant.

Beware the Confirmation-Bias Trap

Confirmation bias is an unfortunate human tendency to give greater weight to evidence that supports our hypothesis than to evidence that refutes it.

We may pay more attention to people who quickly "get" what we mean by our value proposition than to those who ask us to elaborate or guess incorrectly at what it means.

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Kathryn Roy is managing partner of Precision Thinking (, a consulting firm helping B2B technology companies boost the effectiveness of their marketing and sales organizations. Reach her via or Twitter (@karoy1).

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  • by dave conover Tue Dec 1, 2009 via web

    Good article. When our firm rebrands companies we begin by identifying the company's archetype which leads to the value proposition then the tagline. It always seems to be a logical progression when chronologically developed.

  • by Paul McKeon Wed Dec 2, 2009 via web

    Great tips and advice. I would add that a B2B company's existing clients are an excellent resource for articulating the value proposition. The simple question, "Why did you buy from us?" can elicit an answer that is valuable to prospects and stated in their language.

    We found several humorous and surprising examples of "what not to do" in our Jargon Quiz,

  • by Peter Cohen, SaaS Marketing Strategy Advisors Wed Dec 2, 2009 via web

    Very useful.

    Peter Cohen

  • by chris marentis Thu Dec 3, 2009 via web

    We find that reverse engineering the digital footprint of your customer and competitors is a great way to better understand your market, what customers are searching for and how competitors are converting them. That provides a nice basis of intel to make strategy decisions...great post!

  • by Kathleen Hayner Thu Dec 3, 2009 via web

    Well written with useful examples.

  • by Pam Sullivan Thu Dec 3, 2009 via web

    Great article and interesting take on something so many rely on - taglines and bottom/top line ROI - I will rethink my assumptions on both!

  • by terry Thu Dec 3, 2009 via web

    The website stopped after 1 star and wouldn't let me edit it, but I wanted to give this article 5 stars. I thought it was terrific.

  • by Janet Nicholas Fri Dec 11, 2009 via web

    An excellent article and useful for both for-profit and not-for-profit marketing.

  • by Susana Sun Dec 13, 2009 via web

    Article quite helpful and well written! meant to give it a 5 star rating but, as a new user, did not realize one can only click once. My applogies to the author.

  • by Stephen Turcotte Mon Dec 14, 2009 via web

    Thanks Kathryn, This advice makes sense. it also challenges some ideas that have become automatic to most marketers. Thanks for explaining the subtle strategies when marketing to B2Bs in a mature market vs. an emerging market. I think your differentiation will save us lots of time in the future.

  • by Paul Tue Dec 22, 2009 via web

    Kathryn - great stuff here. Way too much money gets spent on utterly forgettable taglines.

  • by Marie Mon Apr 19, 2010 via web

    Excellent overview. Many companies are too focused on their product, not the customer and end up with confusing or non-existent value propositions on the home page. The internet has taught us we have less than five seconds to engage. Investing in getting your value proposition right is more valuable than any other marketing tactic.

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