A term often heard in marketing circles is “Core Value Proposition.” It’s not a very intuitive phrase, and its meaning and importance often get lost in its academic label. Let’s break it down and explore how and why a Core Value Proposition is something you must keep in focus.
An effective Core Value Proposition addresses three key “big rock” benefits your brand offers. Ideally, you want the brand and the brand/customer experience to clearly address at least two of the three. It’s rare to see a brand able to address all three value benefits, but if you can, all the better!
Big Rock Benefit #1 — Functional
Functional: This is by far the most common benefit you see most brands focus on in marketing efforts. Simply put, a functional benefit is the expression of specific user advantages the brand or product offers. You often see functional benefits listed as bullet points in sales media, or even some PR documents: “100 foot WiFi range for better coverage!”; “40 Miles Per Gallon with greater engine efficiency.”; “The best 4k image of any camera on the market!”
Functional benefits can be very effective at driving sales because they quickly and easily convey why someone would want to buy your product over another. But a focus on functional benefits only leads to a commodity-centric market (a “Red Ocean” market) where individuals tend to make buying decisions based on price more than the actual value.
Big Rock Benefit #2 — Emotional
Emotional: The expression of an emotional benefit gets further into the strategic direction of branding because it focuses on the feeling aspect of why someone would choose your brand or service. A good way to begin to identify this emotional component of the brand is to ask yourself “How does someone who uses my product or service feel when using it?” The goal is to identify the sense that conveys a positive feeling in association with the brand.
For example, “My customer feels like an elite athlete when they wear our new moisture-wicking running shirt.” Or, “My customer feels more secure about the quality of the images they are capturing with our new 4K camera.”
Being able to tap into the emotional benefit your brand or product offers requires a strong sense of the customer’s specific wants and needs. This information can be gathered through focus group research, customer services, or by simply monitoring comments on social channels.
Big Rock Benefit #3 — Self-Expressive
Just as with the Emotional benefit, the Self-Expressive benefit can also be elusive or challenging to identify and tap into. But, also as with the Emotional benefit, understanding the how and why nature of your product as it relates to the customer journey and lifestyle experience can be very powerful in setting your product or service apart from that of your competitors.
The Self-Expressive benefit is related to personal identity as it relates to your brand or product. And how a customer’s use and/ownership of your brand impacts the outward expression of who they are. An example is an individual who wears a shirt or shoes with the Nike logo because they want others to know they value the concept of being fit (even if they’re not!).
It’s important to understand the personal expression component of the Self-Expressive benefit. As an example, there are plenty of overweight people who wear Nike clothes and shoes. But since Nike has been so successful at establishing the brand in the fitness category, any association with the Swoosh brings a sense of self-expression with it. You can hold a belief that being fit is a good idea, even if your lifestyle and activities don’t support that belief.
In summary, when defining your Core Value Proposition, make sure to go beyond the too-easy step of listing features and benefits (Functional). Dig deeper to find the Emotional and Self-Expressive benefits and you’re well on your way to helping create a unique competitive sales component of your brand, product or service.
If you’d like to discuss more about focusing on your Core Value Propositon in your marketing efforts, please send me an email.
Bill Threlkeld is president of Threlkeld Communications, a content marketing and public relations agency based in Santa Monica, California. Threlkeld Communications specializes in integrated editorial ecosystem campaigns that utilize PR, Social Media, Blogs, Audio, Video and Email Marketing.