The basics can often be forgotten or misplaced especially when marketing and sales teams are scrambling to recover or boost numbers in the middle of this pandemic. It’s uncharted territory, and I think by now we’ve recognized the need to adapt and pivot.
As we pivot, the bolts that marketers and sales teams can twist is the company’s value proposition.
This is the pillar your entire messaging and company branding stands on. You need to match your messaging to your target audience’s shifting priorities, and your messaging is rooted in your value proposition. What is it? Are you communicating it clearly?
Those are important questions to begin with. Now, in the time of the pandemic comes another heavy punch: Is your value proposition still a hundred percent relevant? Or should you tweak it?
There’s no time like the present to have a clear understanding and an even clearer representation of your value proposition, even if you’ll have to change it again six months or a year from now when we’re back in a world without a health or economic crisis.
That’s a very optimistic view. The world will be forever changed, so your value prop is more important than ever. It goes beyond slogans and style guides. It’s what communicates your empathy across to your target audience, and empathy is what people want right now.
Your value proposition shows:
- How well you know your audience’s pain points
- What pain points you solve
- How you solve those pain points: right now, today, in the current conditions
At a glance, in less than ten words, your audience understands what you offer and recognizes that first, you’re talking to them, and second, you’re worth their time and trust.
If the current and future market dynamics mean you’ll need to adapt and pivot, you need to be crystal clear about the value of your products or services now. Many companies still struggle with this. Startups can sometimes lose sight of it during the launch and the hurdles of consistent success.
And yet it’s the not-so-tiny detail that can define entire business plans. Only when you have clarity about what you offer can you communicate it in all your marketing.
Also called the USP (unique selling proposition), the value proposition is your WHY. In addition to the definitions above, the WHY makes it even more granular:
- Why should your prospects choose you?
- Why should they buy your products/services?
Knowing your consistency and weaknesses in how you communicate the above also gives you insight on what you need to adjust as you pivot.
Depending on context, the value proposition a company has today — no matter how good — might need to change. After all, your prospects have changed their priorities. Does your value proposition still resonate with these new priorities?
The value a brand stands for pre-COVID might no longer apply in this new world during COVID, and even after COVID.
Marketers should also keep in mind that people are at home or working from home, and for some, marketing messages are reaching them more easily than compared to pre-COVID times. This means every marketing message sent in any channel is likely to be under more scrutiny. This is where your new and improved value proposition can help you organize your content.
Proposition and persona agreement
In grammar and mechanics, it’s subject-verb agreement. In marketing, how does your value prop match your persona? What needs to change?
The latter consideration applies to both the value proposition and your current personas. Update both. Two distinct personas might merge because of the current remote work setup, and a position might have new roles and concerns now that your value prop should address.
- What are the top issues your targets face right now?
- What are the risks associated with those issues?
- What words do they use to describe or define those issues? (SEO key terms)
- What are the popular solutions they plan on using? What are the better, less well-known alternatives?
You’re no longer selling but helping
Even with the understanding that business must go on, it’s crude to keep pushing. You’ve seen stores that no longer post “Come shop with us” but instead announce their online stores “for your safety.”
- How does your new value proposition help? Communicate that clearly. Is it your COVID response? Add that across all channels.
- What notifications can you proudly send via email because you know they’re valuable to your recipients?
- Do you employ human-first language and values?
Some companies have done the “we are here for you” and “we’re in this together” messaging in impressive ways and that’s because they appear genuine — not opportunistic.
What you say in all channels should be relevant
This is the time to disable all irrelevant sequences you’ve set up. The first quarter of 2020 when tone-deaf messages were still sent can be forgiven. But not now. We’ve had plenty of time to adjust where needed.
- Check and edit all triggers in your marketing sequence for relevance and empathy. Disable the ones you shouldn’t deploy at the moment.
- Pause, cancel ads, or edit ads for consistency with the rest of your messaging.
- Soften your CTAs. People simply have other concerns and priorities, and downloading your lead magnet or scheduling a meeting with you is at the bottom of those priorities.
New, relevant offer, same or more value
Marketing and sales teams need to find opportunities for real value in their products or services.
Announce extended discounts and financing options/payment plans and push bundled deals that make the deal sweeter and more useful, or create entirely new products, anything that supports the community in the current time.
A well-known example of the latter is Ripshot. They make shots you can bring anywhere (just rip off the seal from the tamper-proof recycled plastic shot glass), and now they’re making hand sanitizers, Ripgel, which they distribute to hospitals free, and sell to everyone else at cost, with the same convenient packaging as Ripshot.
The benefits: Ripshot didn’t have to shut their doors, everyone kept their jobs, and they’re helping the frontliners. Bonus: they’ll be remembered for this.
Other events-based and location-based companies are pivoting to virtual. I’ve seen news of job fairs and even dating (matchmaking services) moving to online platforms. That brings me to my next point.
Pivot to digital capabilities for delivery, for your teams and your customers
What apps are in line with your value proposition? Chances are they’re already out there, just waiting for you and your team to discover and utilize them.
I’m not talking about delivery of goods either, although that’s an ideal end point. Services can be delivered differently, your teams can have a new way of delivering your messaging. For example, shifting from emails to FB Messenger and streamlined chatbot templates.
Now is a good time to revisit your value proposition (among other things). Just do it with humility and sincerity because then you’re less likely to create messaging that just add more noise. You can shine through the noise by aligning your value prop with the times, and the altered pain points its created.