Are you struggling to generate quality leads each month? Are you regularly losing business to your competitors? Do your sales take too long to close, taking you away from valuable consulting time? Most problems that you experience in your marketing and sales come down to having a poor value proposition. This post will give you everything you need to craft a first-class value proposition for your consultancy.
Here's an overview of what we'll be covering in this post:
- How can your value proposition make so much difference?
- Why consultancies often have a weak value proposition
- Start with a campaign to test your value proposition
- What is a value proposition?
- What a value proposition isn’t
- How do you create a value proposition for your consultancy?
- What’s going to stop you from creating a compelling value proposition
- Generate more leads with your compelling value proposition
- Your value proposition is the essence of your consultancy
How can your value proposition make so much difference?
If you are struggling to get your marketing and sales performing efficiently, your value proposition is a priority to fix first; here is why:
- Your value proposition creates clarity for you and your customers on why they should buy from you.
- A well-constructed value proposition differentiates you from your competitors.
- It attracts your ideal customers, increases their loyalty and allows you to charge higher prices.
So why doesn’t every consultancy have an excellent value proposition? It’s either because they’re too busy delivering their service to have time to think about it or because they haven’t spent time identifying their ideal customer.
Why consultancies often have a weak value proposition
The main reason that consultancies struggle to create a compelling value proposition is that they don’t invest in identifying their ideal customer and focusing their value proposition on that ideal customer.
When your value proposition tries to appeal to too broad an audience, the chances of it landing reduce significantly.
The second thing is that consultancies don’t test their value proposition enough. Which means they don’t really know if it’s working or not.
Product companies and SaaS companies are constantly testing and refining their value proposition through advertising. When you advertise at scale, you can quickly see if a value proposition is working or not.
If you aren’t advertising, testing your value proposition is difficult, takes too long, and lacks hard evidence.
Having a weak and untested value proposition will mean that your consultancy:
- Wastes time on content marketing that doesn’t generate leads
- Relies on your owner/founder to win customers and close deals
- Has to compete on price to close customers
- Relies on referrals and recommendations for new business
- Has a longer sales cycle
- Spends more on advertising and marketing because conversion rates are low
If you’re experiencing any of those issues, it’s time to get to work on your consultancy’s value proposition.
Start with a campaign to test your value proposition
To create a solid and compelling value proposition as a consultancy, you must start with your ideal customer.
The trouble is that when you’re an established consultancy with existing customers, finding and committing to your ideal niche audience is tough that because:
- You have existing customers who you don’t want to confuse by saying you focus on something else
- You don’t want to lose out on the opportunity of new business from other types of customers
- You can apply your expertise across a range of customers and don’t want to limit yourself
They are all valid concerns. However, if you try to create a value proposition that accommodates them, it’ll be weak, leading to all the problems I’ve highlighted earlier.
The best way to navigate your concerns is to start with a campaign.
Marketing and sales have always used the concept of campaigns. If the campaign you design doesn’t work as well as you would like, you create another one to beat it.
When a campaign becomes as successful as your primary business, you can decide if you want to go all-in on it.
What is a value proposition?
Your value proposition is an easy-to-understand promise to your customers that gives them a compelling reason to act. It is the answer to the question, “Why should I buy from you and not your competitor?”
A good value proposition has to offer three things:
- Relevancy - Who it is for and how it solves their problems or improves their situation
- Quantified value - The benefits it delivers
- Differentiation - Why they should buy from you and not the competition
A compelling consultancy value proposition provides a unique, measurable and specific promise that:
- Is clear who it is for
- Solves the customer’s problem
- Relieves a deep customer fear
- Offers a measurable and compelling reason to act
What a value proposition isn’t
A consultancy value proposition isn’t:
- How much experience you have
- How many years you have been in business
- Woolly or generic, like we provide excellent client service or we provide tailored solutions
- Focus on your company and not the customer
- A marketing slogan or catchphrase. A good one may allude to or inspire your value proposition, but it isn’t your value proposition
- A positioning statement. They can be similar, but they’re not the same
How do you create a value proposition for your consultancy?
Step 1 - Identify your ideal customer
The first step in creating your consultancy’s value proposition is complete clarity on your ideal customer. A value proposition becomes much more powerful when it addresses a specific customer’s situation and desired outcome. The broader audience it aims to appeal to, the less likely it will resonate with the intended audience.
When you are focused on appealing to an ideal customer, you can understand their needs and craft your value proposition on the benefits that will appear to these customers the most.
Step 2 - Plan your campaign
If you target a narrower audience than you have previously or test a new message, you must anticipate changing based on what you learn.
Creating a campaign to test your value proposition creates a container that allows you to test the message and the audience without confusing your current messages or customers. However good you think your value proposition is, you will receive feedback on it from the market. Anticipate that you will want to refine your value proposition based on that feedback. Running your initial tests within a campaign gives you more flexibility to test and refine.
When you plan your campaign, agree on when you will launch it, how long it will run, your targets and how regularly you will review performance. It is also advisable to plan how much information you require before making any changes or refinements to the campaign.
Step 3 - Gather all the information you need to create your value proposition
- Your ideal customer summary
Create a summary of your ideal customer description that you created in Step 1. Your value proposition will ideally mention who it is for, as this will allow your ideal customers to identify with it immediately. Aim to summarise your ideal customer in as few words as possible.
- Their desired outcome and current situation
What is the outcome that you promise your ideal customers and their current situation that means you can deliver it consistently and that they will act on their desire?
- Your exclusivity
When you combine your ideal customer, the outcome you promise and their current situation, it is probable that your value proposition will already be unique or relatively unique. You can ensure it is with a further degree of exclusivity. Ideally, use a proprietary methodology that guarantees exclusivity, failing that if you have won a relevant award, you can use this to create exclusivity in your value proposition.
- Your guarantee
When you back your value proposition with a guarantee, you indicate your confidence in your promise to your customers. What guarantee can you provide to your customers? Money back, rerunning the service, or perhaps a pro-rata refund.
- Your credibility
Finally, for your value proposition to gain maximum traction, it must be credible. Gaining this credibility is where your experience of providing it to multiple customers, success rates, customer feedback scores, press mentions, and industry accreditation comes in. What credibility signals can you use to back up your value proposition?
If your value proposition is new, you can use the credibility of your company or anchor customers. However, if you struggle to identify any credibility signals you can use, make this a priority as you win new customers and promote it.
Step 4 - Combine the elements of your value proposition
There are a few different formulas you can use to create your value proposition
Formula 1: Who What How
E.g. I help [audience/niche] to [achieve result/solve problem] by [service/product].
We empower small consultancy owners to 10x their business value by productising their services.
- Who: Small consultancy owners
- What: 10x their business value
- How: Productising their services
Formula 2: Clarity Result Timeframe Guarantee
E.g. Hot fresh pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes, or it’s free (Dominos) - (I just couldn’t resist this classic example - who can say no to pizza...)
- Clarity: Hot fresh pizza
- Result: Delivered to your door
- Timeframe: 30 minutes
- Guarantee: Or it’s free
Here’s another example using a similar theme to the others so that you can put it in context.
Scale your consultancy and 10x its value in 3 years or less, or your money back.
- Clarity: Scale your consultancy
- Result: 10x its value
- Timeframe: 3 years or less
- Guarantee: Or your money back
Formula 3: Who Problem Result Why
Freeing small consultancy owners from growth ceilings by developing profitable niches, backed by a money-back guarantee.
- Who: Small consultancy owners
- Problem: Breakthrough growth ceiling
- Result: Develop a profitable niche
- Why: Money-back guarantee
Step 5 - Test your value proposition
When you have created your favourite value proposition, use the 6 C’s formula to run an internal test to check that it passes before you start testing it in the market:
- Customer focussed - clear on who it is for and how it helps them. It is all about the customer.
- Clarity - it’s easy to understand
- Certainty - it communicates the concrete results a customer will get from purchasing your services.
- Competition free - it differentiates you from your competition so that customers understand why they should buy from you.
- Clutterless - it is free from jargon and unnecessary words.
- Concise - it is short and quick to read.
When it has passed the internal test, take it to your market. Ideally, ask your ideal customers and prospects for their opinion. Get feedback from a minimum of six ideal customers and prospects. Avoid getting the opinion of family and friends unless they meet your ideal customer profile.
Step 6 - Refine your value proposition
When you’ve got your feedback, review your value proposition and make any final refinements before you start testing it thoroughly in the market.
What’s going to stop you from creating a compelling value proposition
The main thing that will prevent you from creating a compelling value proposition is not having enough time to work on it.
Yes, you can jump to step 3 and fill out one of the simple formulas, but if you don’t do all the other steps, the chance of you landing the jackpot is slim.
One of the reasons you don’t have the time to focus on your value proposition is because your current value proposition is weak. Which means you’re leaking time. So, if you want to stop the leak, you have to take action and make time for it.
You also won’t make the time for it if you conclude that you’re not a marketing expert and don’t think you can do a good enough job on it.
That’s a fair reason and it’s good that you’re thinking about where your time and attention is best focused. Don’t let it stop you from getting this job done. Ideally, find someone who can help you with plenty of experience crafting and testing compelling value propositions for consulting companies.
Fear of failure may also hold you back. You might be thinking, what if the value proposition doesn’t land with my ideal customers, or what if it puts my current customers off.
That’s why I recommend that you start with a campaign. You can test the different versions of your value proposition as part of the campaign to understand which works the best. If they fail altogether, which is unlikely when you’ve followed the steps I’ve outlined above, you can just create another campaign and try again, benefiting from the lesson the failed campaign taught you.
Generate more leads with your compelling value proposition
You know why it’s important and how you can create a compelling value proposition, so now it’s time to get started.
We have created a Lead Generation Planning pack with a lot of the resources you’ll need to create a compelling value proposition to generate more leads. Use these resources to get you started.
If you want further help, check out our lead generation for consultants service, where we will build you a system and value proposition to generate 20 guaranteed new leads every month.
Your value proposition is the essence of your consultancy
As a consultancy owner, you’re a problem solver. When you solve more problems, you increase your impact in the world.
Creating a powerful value proposition defines the problem you can solve and who you can solve it for at scale.
When you scale solving the problem, you scale your impact in the world.
Your value proposition is the most crucial element of your marketing. Creating a great one isn’t easy, but you know that prioritising it makes sense when you understand its impact.
A strong value proposition sets your consultancy apart from your competition and gives you an unfair advantage to attract and convert customers easily.
You’ll also be able to charge higher prices for your services because you attract more loyal customers.
Does your value proposition address your customer’s desire? It is credible, exclusive and clear?