Your business proposition is key.
Whether you are pitching to an investor, bidding for a big contract or developing a more general marketing plan, one thing is sure: if you have a strong proposition, life is much easier. Your first consideration: Be sure that your proposition is clear, and highlights the real benefits it offers to clients. It is also important to understand customer motivations that may lie behind a purchasing decision.
Wants v. Needs : Aspirations v. Requirements
Motivation for buying broadly falls into two categories: Want but don’t need: The group you are targeting wants, but doesn’t particularly need your offering. Much consumer marketing is aspirational, and falls into this category. Few people need that “new Car”, “new Sofa (even with 4 years’ interest-free credit!)”, but they want it, and believe that it will improve their improve their life. Need but don’t want: Here, you are dealing much more directly with what the customer needs in order to achieve an objective. This is true in much B2B marketing where products and services tend to be bought on a less emotional level, focusing more on the real benefits the purchase can bring to the business and ultimately to the bottom line. Buyers would usually rather not spend the valuable resources, and why should they unless they can be convinced of the benefit. So in this case it is important to recognise that you are marketing to people who “Need but don’t want” what you have to offer. OK this is a generalisation , but considering whether your market falls into the “Need but don’t want” or “Want but don’t need” category can be a real benefit when considering how to present your proposition to maximum effect.
Defining a proposition – key selling points
So how does all this affect how to present a proposition? I mentioned sofas earlier, so let’s take the example of selling a sofa. Sofas are normally bought as a consumer product so tend to fall into Want but don’t need: it’s all about the aspirational benefits the sofa will offer, for example:
- Bright colours or patterns will stand out and make you look more ‘individual’
- Big sofas allow lots of your friends/family to sit together showing how social you are
- Recliner sofas convey extra comfort and have the ‘ wow’ value of a gadget
So your marketing is all about presenting these aspirational benefits to customers, and convincing them that their life will be better with your sofa in it – Even if they already have a perfectly good, comfortable sofa! Whether they actually need a new sofa is another question entirely – and the answer is probably no! This is why making sofas so easy to buy (4 years interest free etc) is an important part of their marketing. Selling a sofa into a business is quite a different proposition. Now we need to show customers that ours is the sofa they Need because it will offer the best overall value:
- The colour/pattern looks good but importantly it will not show stains so shouldn’t require too much cleaning.
- It is constructed from quality materials so should last a long time
- The colour/design/style/quality reflects well on the company giving confidence to prospective customers who may sit on it leading to more business – and profit!
So in this case your marketing is all about showing prospective customers that their business Needs your sofa because business may be affected if they don’t have it.
Your own proposition
Once you have a clear picture of what motivates your customers, the final stage in developing your offering involves identifying and presenting the benefits you are offering. What these are will be entirely dependant on where your potential customers are coming from (“Want but don’t need” or “Need but don’t want“). Understanding their motivation will help to identify the relevant benefits, and when considering these, simply ask one of 2 questions:
- Will this make them “want” it more
- Will this convince them that it meets their “needs”
A strong proposition should get a definitive “YES” to at least one of these questions depending on which group your market falls into. If it doesn’t, than maybe it is time to go back and develop your proposition further!