A good value proposition is a short statement of who you are, what you do, and how your services can offer value to customers.  It outlines your service and its promise to deliver.  The focus is on the benefit to the customer.  As Mark Twain once said, “I didn’t have time to write you a short letter, so I wrote you a long one.”  Brevity requires effort.  Think hard about the essentials of the message and ruthlessly cut away unnecessary details.

Step #1: Outline your services.

  • Why will someone hire you?
  • Your value proposition should reflect your deep experience and proven track record
  • Strong value propositions deliver tangible results like
  • Increased revenues
  • Faster time to market
  • Decreased costs
  • Improved operational efficiency
  • Increased market share
  • Decreased employee turnover
  • Improved customer retention levels
  • Differentiation is critical. What is unique about your services? What have you got that nobody else has?  AND how is this an advantage to your client?
  • Talk to prospective customers
  • Ask them what value you could bring to them
  • Ask what problem you could solve and how they would quantify your impact

Step #2: Focus on benefit to the customer.

  • Make sure the customer wants to buy what you are selling
  • Test this by getting feedback on your value proposition from prospective customers or customer proxies

Step #3: Draft, iterate and go!  80% is good enough.

  • Don’t get too hung up on how to write it at this point
  • Get something down and get lots of feedback
  • Test it with friends and potential customers
    • Identify 5-10 colleagues who are prospective customers or can act as customer proxies
    • Explain briefly that you are starting you own consulting business and ask for feedback on your value proposition
    • Incorporate the feedback as appropriate and get another round or two of feedback. Make sure to include some new people for each round.
  • Your value proposition will continue to evolve over time

BONUS: Finding Content for Your Value Proposition

  • 360 Degree Feedback
    • Solicit ideas from above, below and all around
    • Similar to performance review process
    • Gives great input on how your best skills are perceived
  • Case Studies
    • Writing case studies will provide content for value proposition and networking conversations
    • Examples at rasdal.com

Here is my value proposition for my core consulting practice:

I work with companies to get things done.  I complete critical projects that aren’t getting the focus they need.  I have extensive industry experience and a hands-on, results oriented approach.  My technical background is software engineering and I spent several years in marketing so I am a good utility player.

My sweet spot is just below the C or VP level focusing on implementation and execution.  I’m good with simple and effective action plans.  I have the cross-functional experience to know the right questions to ask.  My rates are reasonable and I do great work.

Writing a value proposition is hard!  It’s hard enough to summarize all your experience in a two-page resume.  Boiling it down into a couple of paragraphs seems impossible at first.  Stay with it and you’ll come up with something good.

Post your value proposition draft in the Billable with Baby® Community.  We can give you feedback.  I encourage you to post several versions as you refine it.  Leverage the power of the group to make your value proposition better!

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