It’s not because you are crazy about your product, that your customer will be too. Passion is good, but customer value is better.
The internet is a funny place. Take company websites for example. In a fit of charming, but nonetheless heartfelt enthusiasm, authors of company websites sometimes write the cutest things.
One of the most well-trodden paths in taglines and about pages is the phrase “We are passionate about <fill in the blanks>.” Just for the heck of it, I invite you to throw the phrase (quotation marks included) into your Google search bar and see what comes out. Some of the most peculiar things I found people are passionate about are:
- Door handles
Now, I don’t want to be condescending about people’s passions, but passionate about door handles, really?
I can imagine people being passionate about music, art, saving the whale, or making the world a better place, but how can you be passionate about topics that are at first sight quite boring?
And yet, I do believe people can be passionate about running a business in, say, party hats, or whatever item you can think of. The problem with these statements is that they sound a little ridiculous, or uninspired at the least.
I think we can do better than that.
There has to be a way to come up with something less ordinary, something more inspiring. Something your customer will care about.
Drum roll… the unique value proposition
The trick is not to look at your product in itself, but at your unique value proposition.
Okay, let’s look at an example. Say you’re passionate about nails. Maybe you’re running a nail shop or you just invented a new kind of nail polish that lasts longer than any nail polish on the market. You would probably advertise your product by saying that it has a new formula (this is a ‘feature’) and therefore that it will last longer, even after plenty of swimming, dish-washing and package-opening (‘benefit’).
While highlighting features and benefits the right way will definitely contribute to making your marketing message clear, it’s not always enough to get into the minds of your customers. A unique value proposition goes a little bit further than the benefit, because it speaks directly to your customer’s needs. In the nail polish example, you could say that long-lasting nail polish makes women look good and as a result it makes them feel confident about themselves. A good unique value proposition tries to get inside the head of your ideal customer and focuses on the benefits your customers derive after using the product.
So how do you find your unique value proposition? One thing that helps is acting like an annoying toddler continuously asking why questions. You have a new nail polish formula? Why? Because the polish will last longer. Why… You get the idea.
Unique value proposition and storytelling
A unique value proposition is so important, because it lays the groundwork for all your marketing efforts. Need to craft a landing page? Make sure it clearly states your unique value proposition in the headline, otherwise your website visitors will be gone in less than ten seconds. Same thing with e-mail messages.
A well thought out unique value proposition will also help your company build your brand story. Storytelling for brands is a way of applying techniques to your brand that are usually found in literary works or movies.
Stories usually have a hero (your nail polish customer) that are faced with some kind of challenge or goal (they want to look good and feel confident). Your hero will ceaselessly strive to reach her goal (probably by trying different kinds of nail polish brands) and on that journey, she will probably come across your brand.
Good storytelling always deals with a challenge that is closely related to your unique value proposition.
Back to the door handles
Nobody will blame you for being passionate about door handles. But don’t expect anyone to care either. If you really want to engage with your customer, then look beyond your product, and beyond your features and benefits. Switch on your inner annoying toddler mode and start asking yourself ‘why?’ until you feel you strike the right chord with your customer. Finding a unique value proposition might not always be straightforward, but even door handles address a problem worth solving.