Are Unique Value Propositions Overrated?

For far too long, marketers have been hung up on identifying their “unique” value propositions, believing that if they don’t own one, they wouldn’t be equipped to confront the competition head-on and win new customers.
Hold that thought.
The urgency and anxiety over defining one’s Unique Value Proposition (UVP) has been on the decline as many CEOs and entrepreneurs are discovering that the process of unearthing one that is truly unique is not always achievable. And even when it is, nearly all UVPs are susceptible to one or more of the following issues or risks:

  1. If the UVP fails to align with what customers value the most, it won’t be relevant.
  2. Some UVPs, no matter how compelling are at risk of losing their luster as soon as a competitor launches a superior product or service.
  3. The pressure to own a UVP forces some brands to create or define one that orbits around customer service or superior product quality; neither of which is unique due to its vagueness and nearly identical claims made by competitors.

Take the case of a company boasting the UVP that its new CRM is the most user-friendly on the market. Although a seemingly strong UVP, its relevance and significance in the eyes of customers are based on a number of variables:

  1. The company must provide proof of its claim by citing its source. It’s the most user-friendly based on whose input and what legitimate source? If it’s self-proclaimed, the value proposition is meaningless.
  2. Assuming the claim is legitimately endorsed by a respected third-party, the value of the company’s proposition will be directly proportionate to how much money the company will supposedly make over time in terms of increased productivity and efficiency.
  3. If the CRM system does in fact lead to increased productivity and efficiency, it must also closely match the performance and capabilities of competitive systems, such as offering an easy-to-use mobile app and top features users want and value the most. If it falls too short in any of these areas, the unique value proposition may be rendered meaningless.
  4. Most importantly, the unique value proposition will only be relevant if the company has a strong reputation, offers fanatical customer support, plenty of online training and is highly reliable in terms of uptime. There is nothing more frustrating than not being able to access your data!

So, are UVPs overrated? Absolutely not. Owning one or more plays an integral role in attracting new customers and retaining existing ones. A UVP provides a compelling answer the question, “Why should I buy from you?”
However, if you struggle to identify or define a value proposition that is truly unique, you have several options to help build a compelling brand that attracts customers in the spirit of winning business away from competitors.

  1. Group together your top three or four value propositions (which other competitors may also claim) and focus on how you can enhance each to the point where they far exceed customer expectations. This will require some creative thinking, brainstorming and even speaking with some of your customers to fuel ideas.
  2. Think of positive and memorable experiences you’ve had with companies in your personal or business life, and how you may apply similar experiences to customers in your business. (e.g. Ritz Carlton, Zappos, Amazon, etc.)
  3. Build a culture where people love to come to work every day inspired to perform at their best. Delivering exceptional service and manufacturing great products require it. If you’re interested in building a continuous improvement and top-performance culture at your company, contact us.
  4. Know what your customers want and give it to them. If you’re not sure, a simple survey will provide you with great ideas. Also, think in terms of improving delivery times, flexible shipment options and payment terms, being fanatically responsive and attentive, offering additional ancillary services, etc.
  5. Focus on developing and nurturing your personal brand, and those of everyone at your company who touches customers. Oftentimes, sales are made simply because people at a company have a reputation of being trustworthy, dependable, generous, authentic and genuine.

If you devote yourself to focusing on these areas for the next 6-12 months, you’ll be surprised at how much stronger of a competitor you can become, and how many more customer relationships you will win. Owning a “unique” value proposition is only one component of the equation. If you don’t have one today, don’t sweat it, and start to focus on everything else that matters.