I want to start off by saying – this works for me. It may not work for you. Consider it food for thought, rather than concrete advice.
What’s your value proposition?
I’ve been discussing the difference between the success of big-time marketers and everyone else in a lot of depth over the past few months with my pal Dave Doolin. The core of this is something that most people fundamentally don’t understand. In fact, I would venture to guess that most people don’t even know that this is a question they should be asking.
Making Stuff is too Easy
Even for me, my usual creative process is something like – “Hey! I made this thing. Here you go. Why isn’t this working?”
A really recent example is Reinstamix, which, while mostly built as a technical exercise for the startup I’m currently working at, was something I hoped would generate a little (read: a lot) of buzz and be something that people liked (read: make me wildly rich and famous).
Sadly, that wasn’t the case. It’s certainly done well considering the total lack of promotion, but it wasn’t something that people really wanted to use. I think it was because it lacked a clear value proposition from the outset.
Understanding The Product Value Proposition
The product value proposition is something that people in the start up world are finally starting to talk about a lot. With the release of “The Lean Startup,” a book by Eric Reis, entrepreneurs in the tech scene now understand that products should be there for the benefit of potential customers, not just things that are cool to make. Revenue and profit, which small business owners live and die by, are finally cool in the high-tech industry.
In order to get it right, you…
1. Come up with an idea.
1. Figure out who that idea would help.
1. Talk to those people to see if your assumption is right.
1. Build that thing for those people.
I think they called that market research in business school. Who can ever remember things like that?
There is still something a level higher than this that is essential to finding success, which isn’t being discussed as much.
Your Personal Value Proposition
Pardon me during this quick rant – this is something I’ve wanted to get out in the world for a while now: Fuck everyone who bills themselves as an “SEO expert.” The secret to SEO is make good stuff, consistently. Anyone who is willing to sell you their services to twiddle with H1 tags on your site, and promise to turn your shit posts about dog grooming into first-page material are liars and con-men.
Despite that, people who are making money as “SEO experts” know their value proposition. Namely – making you feel like by spending cash on their services, you’ll be rich and famous and life will be better.
Did you catch that?
Their value proposition isn’t helping you rank better for keywords. It’s making your life fun and easy by cashing in at the online gold rush. They’re selling the hope, even if the customer doesn’t know it, and by realizing and acting on this slightly different personal value proposition, it makes for an easier sell.
In this case, the personal value proposition is “get rich by any means necessary.”
A working definition of a personal value proposition is – “the connection of your work and results to your customer’s deep desires.” That’s a hard link to make, for me, any way. But making the value prop clear in everything you do is how success happens. It guides productions, and produces consistent results.
Who Understands Their Value Proposition?
Andrew Warner from Mixergy knows what he’s got to offer. Stories of startups from their founders. You want to know the backstory about a start up? Andrew’s got an interview for that. There’s literately, like, hundreds of them now. Want to know some stuff about node.js? That’s not the place, and it won’t ever be the place.
And that’s awesome – careful attention to serving one need, of a specific group of people
Another obvious example is Apple – nice, easy, quality. You can find those three attributes in every product, every bit of marketing, and every interaction.
How I Can Discover My Value Proposition?
For me, it just seems to be a matter of investing the time. I’m slowly but surely figuring out what things are important to me, and how to deliver those qualities in everything I do. A few things I’ve noticed as I progressed down the path towards PVP awareness include…
- More desire to work on hard problems.
- More momentum on current projects.
- Increased results as a result of the momentum.
- Easier time switching to new projects and trying new things.
When I was just starting out, everything seemed monumental. Even little tasks were always daunting, and everything took forever. I also never really felt confidant with my solutions to problems – I knew there had to be a better, easier way to accomplish the same results.
What’s Next in the Search for My Value Proposition?
The other essential element, I think, of success is your network. Success attracts success, and all that. As I start to find success, I find it easier to connect with other people who have had success. This in turn creates a positive feedback loop and seems to help across the eco-system. I want to spend more time building connections and finding places where my PVP fits well with others, and see how that impacts my creative output.
We’ll see how all this turns out. Read the full article →