About six months ago I put together a presentation for the Create Chaos event in Florida. It was a conference for creative professionals and I thought I would speak about creating the messaging around your value proposition. Many of the attendees were freelancers or small business owners searching for ways to effectively position themselves in this very competitive field.
Obviously this was an audience that was savvy from a design standpoint so my challenge was to create a simple formula for them to wrap their heads around the language of their positioning vs just the image. That’s been my strength.
If they could then combine a strong message with a sharp or effective design then that would be a pretty powerful result.
The process I asked them to go through, and you certainly can too, took 3 steps.
Step 1 was to think about the kinds of companies you like to work for – and to list these descriptors on a page. All kinds of descriptors came out including: small, big, savvy, trust, freedom, smart, fast paying, decisive …and so on.
Step 2 was to think about the kinds of projects you like to work on – and to list these as well. Examples included: websites, print, launches, branding, high margin, profile, causes, innovative…and more.
Step 3 was to have them understand what was the REAL value they brought to their existing clients. In my experience there is often a gap here. You might think they like you because of your design skill…but in fact it could be because you always deliver on time and on budget. I gave them a list of 10 questions to ask their existing customers that would help them reveal their true value. If you’d like that list then send me an email request and I can shoot them off to you.
The 5 Words To Help You Write Your Value Proposition
So, armed with a list of descriptors about the kinds of customers they wanted to attract, a list of the kinds of projects they enjoy the most, and with new insights into the value that they really delivered I gave them a framework to then construct their value proposition.
And it consisted of these five words:
Are you a:
With those five words and their list of descriptors they could then start mixing and matching elements to craft a messaging strategy or positioning to start attracting the right clients, for the right projects and be sure that they were also the ones that would appreciate the value they would bring to to the table.
Here are a few examples, with each one building on additional layers:
Are you a: Growing entrepreneurial business?
Looking for: A website that breaks through the clutter, but not your budget.
Are you a: High quality interactive agency experiencing periods of high demand for tier one graphic illustrations?
Looking for: Serious design chops that know how to expertly handle client relationships, tight turnarounds and is available on an as-needed basis.
Are you a : Large corporation, with a strong brand and advertising campaigns that cross all media, who is tired of dealing with large agencies that are incapable of creating renewed interest in your business?
Looking for: A smaller, nimbler agency, with big ideas, and an even bigger passion to execute them with precision.
Each of these examples, in their own right, create a richness to the message. Certainly more than just saying you are a “graphic designer who builds websites”. They all clearly define the target audience as well as the scenarios they are facing and how the provider can best meet those needs.
And that is pretty much what you need to effectively position your company against your target – designer, agency, developer, lawyer, dog walker or whatever it is you do. And if you remember from my previous posts, you’ll be wanting to attract those customers that YOU love to work with as well – heck, that makes work fun!
What’s Your Value Proposition?
I have yet to find a scenario where this simple task and the structure of these five words has not been able to produce results. Messaging and positioning can be extremely difficult if it is not something that comes intuitively to you – or you are not a “words” person. This framework is designed to take you through some simple steps to create a unique but effective positioning statement that you can then deliver to a creative professional (or yourself) to build some marketing around.
If you perform this exercise, and I encourage you to do it, I would love to have you share your results with me directly or post them as a reply to this topic.