When Was the Last Time You Were Propositioned?


When Was the Last Time You Were Propositioned?

When was the last time you were propositioned? Because knowing how you’ll deliver is part of the attraction.

I confess: there’s something that has baffled me for years, but I’ve been too embarrassed to ask about, and now I wonder if I’m too old to bother.

Last week at a business conference, a well-dressed supplier sidled up to me in public, and ogling my name tag asked, “So what’s your value-proposition Drew?” 

I was taken aback. I’ve never been asked for one so directly. I remember immediately thinking, ‘I’m not sure you’re my type’ and ‘shouldn’t we at least have coffee first to get to know more about each other?’ 

I must say, the interaction left me feeling manhandled; and a little objectified, too.

I’ve never really been good at recognising a good proposition. A sad indictment perhaps on my dating prowess, but I’d prefer to think it’s more that people simply don’t use this abstract word in polite, normal everyday conversation.

In its simplest form a value-proposition is about what you provide to who and why.

Seeking safety in a generic value-proposition

Many business owners adding a value-proposition to their business vocabulary, speak in such lofty (often stratospheric!) disconnected terms it seems to do little more than justify a tick in a check box.  Akin to acquiring an ABN or a mission statement – you just need to have one to be taken seriously. 

It’s little surprise they often treat the delivery framework as an afterthought; ignoring the practicalities of how to land their idea to the marketplace and into the hands of a customer.

Cashflow is Queen, but delivery is King

High level thinking has a place in business, but ultimately its outcome has to be tethered to delivery.  Customer delivery and service implementation is deserving of equal creative thought and planning – but often starved of that same consideration and respect.

Service delivery is the new King – not just into the hands of the customer, but embedded into their hearts and lives and ultimately, the expression of who they are as people.

Delivery is becoming a central part of the product

Admittedly, delivery is not always readily tangible. A successful brand story needs to become part of the customer’s own story. And arguably, delivered into both the physical and emotional lives of a customer.

For many businesses, the capacity to deliver is becoming equal to their primary service. Dominos Pizza is arguably a delivery service first and a supplier of flat food second. Amazon Prime drives profits and sales with free delivery through its annual membership fee, and eBay has followed suit.  Today requiring a delivery tracking number as part of a purchase, has become the new entry level expectation from serious sellers.  Even lumbering Australia Post has embraced location tracking email and SMS notifications.

A value-proposition without a plan for its delivery risks remaining another empty promise.

Delivering on the promise

A modern value-proposition (arguably better framed as a brand promise) must be more than the common nebulous statements of ;

  • Some reasons why customers should buy what we sell, or 
  • Selected valuable product features available for purchase, or
  • A magical incantation designed to create a momentary emotional spike inducing someone to buy from you.

Open loops and unfinished stories cost sales

In the same way, we humans don’t like unfinished stories, we place little value on unfinished or abandoned brand experiences too. The eCommerce phenomenon of abandoned shopping carts attests to our fickle purchase behaviours, with an average online store losing over 75% of its sales to cart abandonment. 

Humans relate best to brands through stories that take them somewhere – and don’t abandon them after a purchase of a new product or service.

Why we need a completed story

Most customers simply don’t have the intellectual firepower (or the surplus energy or attention), to instantly see themselves reflected in a generic product list presented on our website.  Nor do they immediately understand the potential benefits of our lofty value-proposition when they are presented with facts alone.  

We don’t recognise what we don’t understand

We all need a story to help us better understand how the value-promise will deliver good times – and all good stories must deliver an ending.  Today people relate more easily through shared stories and experiences because we’re instinctively drawn to look for similarities in our surroundings.

Successful service delivery is the anticipated close of the purchase loop that completes the story of a brand’s interaction in the customers mind.

It’s time to think deeper before we just Google how to do it

Much of the reason advanced for this absence of deeper thinking about service delivery is attributed to time constraints, but it would be naive to ignore the search engine in the room.

Our short attention spans and shortening patience with process, sees many time poor small business owners ‘wing it’ more than ‘plan it’ (and more ‘Google it,’ than create it).  

They starve their entrepreneurial empathy of the time needed to craft a truly complete and compelling sales experience, which can be embedded into the hearts and minds of their market.

  • They work from an antiquated paradigm where ‘once it’s shipped, it’s out of mind’ (because all sales are final).
  • They fail to sufficiently obsess over the delivery issue – believing it to be an inevitable outsourced process – when its better design might be the missing key to their brand story.
  • They fear failure and the accusation of wasted time and resources in reinventing a process that occurs post sale.

Embed your brand in the customer’s life; rather than simply put it in the post

While you might be certain what you’re offering is the answer to a customers prayers, they aren’t certain. A customer doesn’t have the same innate level of familiarity with your goods and services.  You owe it to your brand and your customer to become highly skilled at delivering the value and experience you promised, in a way that walks them through the sequence of emotions that culminate in the delivery of the promised purchase.

Few small businesses today ever fully realize what they’re capable of, despite great opportunity to do so.  There’s nothing worse to hear of a brand than, ‘they failed to deliver’. In their value-propositions, service delivery is assumed, minimised and misunderstood. Ultimately all our good intentions and promises are judged according to the delivery standard. 

Perhaps a better value-proposition could be framed as delivery-proposition. 

A delivery-proposition puts the customer back in the centre of our focus. This is never a bad thing. In its modern form, a value-proposition becomes about what you provide to who and why, and how with delivery today no longer relegated to an afterthought.

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