Value propositions are, to use a colloquial term, all the rage! So why are marketeers not always happy with them? Why do they not always do the job?

A bit like SWOT analysis, the challenge with value propositions is to develop them with the customer in mind. It is easy to develop a SWOT analysis from your own perspective and list your entire product / company’s strengths and weaknesses. But, perception is reality and if the customer does not see these features as strengths or weaknesses then, in reality, they’re not.

So what about value propositions? One definition says they are:

‘A business or marketing statement that summarises why a consumer should buy a product or use a service. This statement should convince a potential consumer that one particular product or service will add more value or better solve a problem than other similar offerings.’

The real challenge lies in ‘value’ itself. Value is a subjective quality, or as defined in the Oxford English Dictionary ‘the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth or usefulness of something’.

Whether through lack of time, a passionate belief in the brand or a perception that customer needs are well understood, the development of Value Propositions in many organisations is a very internally focused activity. They become a major programme of work to pull together every last piece of clinical and financial data into a compelling ‘story’. But the question remains, compelling for whom?

The real issue with value propositions is that there is a danger that they become a synthesis of how the company sees the ‘value’ of the product. What they really need to do is capture and communicate ‘value’ from the customer’s perspective. The messages need to resonate, they need to reflect the customer’s reality and fulfil a need or support delivery of a key objective. Anything else is selling us and our products short.

What do customers really think about your value proposition? Have you asked them?