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Why Unique Value Propositions in Manufacturing are Overrated

By Scott Seroka

Do you really need a unique value proposition?

Let’s start by defining the word unique. According to dictionary.com, unique means “having no like or equal; unparalleled; incomparable. Also, existing as the only one or as the sole example; single; solitary in type or characteristics.”

Based on this definition, I think you would agree that it’s not always possible to own a “unique” value proposition. And, the good news is that it’s not, nor has it ever been, as essential as many marketers think it is.

The fact is that you can confront the competition head-on and win new business without a unique value proposition! Many growing, thriving, successful companies do not own or even claim to own a “unique” value proposition.

The urgency and anxiety over defining one’s unique value proposition has been on the decline for quite a few years as many CEOs are discovering that the process of unearthing a truly unique value proposition is not always achievable.

And even when it is, many unique value propositions are susceptible to one or more of the following issues:

  • If it fails to align with what customers or channel partners value the most, it’ll be meaningless.
  • Some unique value propositions, no matter how compelling, risk losing their appeal as soon as a competitor launches a superior product or service.
  • The pressure to own a unique value proposition forces some brands to create one that orbits around what their formidable competitors are saying, which is nothing more than “me too” marketing.

Take the case of a manufacturer boasting the unique value proposition that its gear drive is the most reliable in the industry.

Although a seemingly strong unique value proposition, its relevance, and significance in the eyes of customers are based on four variables.

  1. The company must provide proof of its claim by citing a legitimate source. If it doesn’t, customers will be skeptical.
  2. Assuming the claim is valid, the value of the proposition will be directly proportionate to how much more reliable their gear drive is compared to competing gear drives. And this must also be backed up with evidence.
  3. If the gear drive is, in fact, the most reliable, it must also closely match the performance and capabilities of competitive systems, such as technology, power and ease of maintenance. If not, the value proposition is again meaningless.
  4. Most importantly, the unique value proposition will only be relevant if the company has a respectable reputation in the industry.

So, are unique value propositions overrated? Absolutely not. Owning one or more plays an integral role in attracting new customers and retaining existing ones.

However, if you struggle to identify one that is truly unique, don’t sweat it.

And if this is the case for you, you have several options to help build a compelling brand that attracts customers in the spirit of winning business away from competitors.

First, group 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.

The second thing you can do is think of positive experiences you’ve had with companies in your personal or business life, and how you may apply similar experiences to customers in your business.

Also, you can and should 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.

Next is to know what your customers want and value the most, and give it to them. If you’re not sure, a simple survey will provide you with great ideas.

And finally, focus on developing and nurturing your personal brand and those of everyone at your company who touches customers to add value to the overall customer experience.

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.

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