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Brand, marketing

The A-Team, maybe the best Value Proposition in the world. How’s yours sucker?..

If you’re familiar with the exploits of Howling Mad Murdock, B.A. Baracus, John ‘Hannibal’ Smith and Templeton ‘Faceman’ Peck, aka The A-Team, then you’ll remember this too…

“If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire The A-Team”

…and cue music.

Many of us can recall the opening narration to the iconic 80’s hit TV series The A-Team.

But what if I told you that in those 23 words alone, the producers had unwittingly created the greatest Customer Value Proposition ever?

You might reply, “Wot you taking about fool?”

Before I state my ‘Howling Mad’ case and unlock some secrets, let’s take a broad look at customer value propositions (CVPs), what they are and why it’s so important to have one.

A Customer Value Proposition is a statement that communicates a ‘promise’ of value that an organisation will deliver to its customers. It also creates a ‘belief’ on the part of the customer or prospect that value will be experienced if they chose to work with you.

It describes your target audience, the problem you solve, and why you’re distinctly better than the alternative.

A good CVP incorporates a quantifiable combination of Relevance, Positioning, Cost and Value.

While the very best value propositions are psychological masterpieces that invoke the emotions of Scarcity, Opportunity and Exclusivity.

Imagine 20 words or so (the fewer the better) that create such a strong belief in the value of doing business with you that there’s little to no alternative in the mind of the audience.

…that’s what I call an ‘A-Team Message’!

Alex Osterwalder’s book Value Proposition Design says that a value proposition:

“Describes the benefits customers can expect from your products and services.”

Sounds simple enough, right?

Not so, because the creation of an outstanding customer value proposition or unique selling proposition is one of the most difficult tasks an organisation will undertake.

But it’s critical you have one and nail it too…bummer!

Finding a unique value proposition usually involves a new way of segmenting the market.

And a novel value proposition often expands on the market.

Your value proposition should include the positive outcomes of engaging with your business, product or service.

It should be written in the language of your customer, and presented in a way that will resonate with them.

A well-formed value proposition describes, in customer-centric language, which of your products and services is going to deliver the desired benefits.

Keep in mind that each of a business, product and service will have its own unique customer value proposition.

Be sure to target: Relevancy, Quantified Value, Unique Differentiation

Your value proposition explains how your product or service meets the customer’s requirement – Relevancy

And describes the benefits your customers will receive – Quantified Value

It should position your business, product or service in relation to the competition – Unique Differentiation

Now let’s jump back to my original claim that the A-Team had the best value proposition ever. I’ll break it down and hopefully demonstrate just how effective a world-class ‘value message’ can be in shaping customer perception.

Breaking down an A-Team message:

1. “If you have a problem” – Tick off ‘Relevancy’.

The A-Team helped ‘good and deserving folk’ defend themselves against pretty unsavoury characters, aka ‘the problem’. By presenting this as a question, they are segmenting the audience for relevancy.

2. “if no one else can help” – Tick off ‘Quantified Value’ and ‘Differentiation’.

This is a genius double whammy of a quote. What they are actually saying here is “if it’s the type and scale of problem to warrant the A-Team then no one else can help”. Once you read a statement like this then everyone else is a ‘B, C or D-Team’.

“and if you can find them” – Tick off ‘Scarcity’ and ‘Opportunity’.

It gets even better as they pull the psychological trigger of ‘while stocks last’ and ‘limited quantities available’. This prompts the natural human emotions of commitment and urgency.

“maybe you can hire The A-Team” – Tick off ‘Exclusivity’.

This is the veritable ‘home run’ of the proposition. The premise here is that even after satisfying all of the other criteria, discretion remains with the brand, or in this case Hannibal and crew. It’s not a tactic we see every day but it’s an incredibly effective way of creating ‘demand and desire’ for something.

You may have noticed that there’s no mention of ‘Price’ in The A-Team value proposition.

Strange only until you consider that the effectiveness of the customer message negates the reliance on cost, in fact it barely factors.

After all, everyone else is a B-Team, remember?

Targeting an A-Team message for your own value proposition or as the formula that underpins a start-up product or service is ridiculously effective and equally challenging to achieve.

But target you must!

Having a strong value proposition that resonates and engages with customers is the backbone of your offer to market. It won’t just explain, differentiate, and encourage – it will increase sales!

Top Tippy Tips:

Here are 7 top tips for developing a great value proposition:

1. It’s not just about clarity – create your proposition to be compelling.

2. Avoid a functional description and seek to engage emotionally.

3. Make sure your proposition is 100% customer centred.

4. As a statement it should stand on its own two feet, with little to no explanation.

5. Generally it should be jargon-free. There are exceptions, particularly in tech, but exercise caution.

6. Ensure it is written in a tone of voice that your customer audience feels comfortable with.

7. Implicit in the value proposition should be your product/service differentiation.

A customer value proposition should resonate throughout your branding and marketing activities, as well as with your employees.

One problem however is that according to market research, only 10-15 percent of executives rated the sales calls they received from businesses as providing enough value to warrant the time they spent on them.

Which means that 85 to 90 percent of all sales calls are perceived as communicating no value – a staggering failure rate by any measure.

In short, most value propositions are poorly conceived and ineffectively delivered.

The reason customer facing teams fail to articulate value is because they commit the 3 deadly sins of sales messaging.

1. Providing too much information

2. Not describing the value from the buyer’s perspective

3. Failing to identify how they differ from the competition

Chances are your customer value proposition is coming up shorter than you think. A customer value proposition should resonate not only throughout your marketing activities but in the word of mouth of your employees, existing customers, suppliers and business partners too.

And that means changing the way you develop and deliver it, everywhere!

So i’ll leave you with this…

“If you have a problem (i.e. your value prop), if no one else can help (we’re better), and if you can find us (try Google)…maybe (quite likely) you can hire The Brand Business.”

“I love it when a plan comes together!” 🙂

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Now for some A-Team Trivia:

• The series ran from 1983 -1987 and consisted of 97 episodes.

• Watermelons don’t kill, people do.

• Whenever Mr.T says he ain’t getting on no plane, he’s definitely getting on a plane.

• We pity the fool that ain’t got an A-Team message for their customers.

The A-Team were:

Howling Mad Murdock – Dwight Schultz

• B.A. Baracus – Mr. T

• John ‘Hannibal’ Smith – George Pepard

• Templeton ‘Faceman’ Peck – Dirk Benedict


Brand, Consumer Trend, marketing

Consumers are getting personal. PMOT, the ‘Personal Moment Of Truth’ is here!

It is essential for business owners to understand the part their ‘personal brand’ plays in a developing buying cycle, and how the rise of the personal brand has formed a new moment of truth in consumer purchase behaviour, PMOT.

The times of purchasing a product or service on face value are long gone. Google coined the phrase ZMOT (zero moment of truth) back in 2011; it refers to a point in the buying cycle when a consumer researches a product prior to purchase, on average consulting a further 10 sources of information.

Enter 2018 and there’s a new kid on the block, PMOT (personal moment of truth), you heard it here first. I will post some more articles that dive deeper into PMOT and how to target this space, but here’s the principal.

The consumer’s decision to engage with a product, service or business now includes a new research phase…


PMOT is a new point in the buying cycle where a consumer or other interested party researches the ‘personality’ behind the product, even before the product itself. If you’re a business owner or business ambassador then this research phase can include any information that web 2.0 holds on you.

An explosion in content has brought almost unfathomable choice for the consumer. It’s only natural that we look for improved ways to filter this content and refine our decision making process. Forming an emotional bond with a product or service that includes insight gained from someone’s ‘personal brand’ is becoming an increasingly important part of this process. It helps us connect at an emotional level.

Whether its B2B or B2C relationships your after, the winners in PMOT world are going to be those personalities that rush out and meet the audience head on with copious amounts of personal content.

There are some awesome PMOT practitioners out there already, such as Gary Vaynerchuk ( Gary sets the benchmark in the way he develops his personal brand and shares his personal content to support his broader business objectives. In fact you’re more likely to become a customer of Gary’s based on his personal brand than that of his hugely successful media business. There are countless others too.

There is an undeniable opportunity for the people behind businesses to connect with the consumer at a much deeper level than before. Along with this is an increasing pressure for us business owners to jump on-board the media band waggon and start crafting our personal brands to act as the North Star in our customer relationships.

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Brand, Consumer Trend, marketing

If only this quote had come straight from the Vulcan cool man himself. 

Our man Spock has certainly earned his Starfleet pips when it comes down to personal branding.

In my opinion he is the most memorable character to go where no man has gone before, present iterations included.

His enduring characteristics have been the subject of more memes, parodies, spoofs and spinoffs than you can shake a media stick at.

Your point Jim?

The rise of personal brand in word of mouth marketing (aka social media) is influencing our decision making process. This includes purchase behaviour, trust, loyalty and other emotional connections.

In this article let’s take a quick look at the definition of ‘personal brand/branding’ so we’re nice and clear on things.

• Personal branding is the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands.

• Personal branding is the on-going process of establishing a prescribed image or impression in the mind of others about an individual, group or organisation.

• Personal Branding is the means by which people remember you.

• Personal brand helps build your business, but it still centres on you as an individual.

Thanks for those definitions Wiki!

I see personal branding as your very own retail Point of Sale “Hey you I’m over here!”…”Like what you see?” … “Try me on for size”… “Wow, we look good together” … “See you at the checkout” … “Until next time!”

This is no bad thing, far from it in fact.

There is a new research phase in the customer buying cycle called the ‘personal moment of truth’ (PMOT), that capitalises on the value you communicate through your personal brand.

Please read my earlier article on PMOT and the rise of personal brand for more detail: Step aside Google’s ZMOT, it’s 2018 and there’s a new kid on the block…

For business owners and entrepreneurs there is a stunning opportunity to share your intellectual and emotional qualities with the consumer.

A strong personal brand can yield tremendous ROI whether you are working for a business or leading one.

Developing your personal brand means considering what you want to be associated with when people think of your name. This could be a particular subject matter and expertise, or other qualities that link you naturally to your business, product and service.

A clear understanding of how you wish to be perceived allows you to be more strategic with your brand building process.

Remember that your personal brand MUST be true to YOU… the clue is in the word ‘personal’.

For the most part these brand-building considerations should come naturally to you. If they don’t or aren’t then you’ll need to question why.

Chances are you didn’t rescue 10 orphans from a burning building before jumping 5 stories into an ornamental fountain. So don’t pretend you did, or would for that matter.

The market will smell you coming if you try to BS it!

It makes perfect sense for business owners and employees to step forward and support organisational objectives through their personal brand.

Particularly when you consider that most businesses are founded on the personality of the business owners to begin with. This personality resonates further in the employees when employing relevant to the business values.

So what discerning media business (that’s you) wouldn’t take full advantage of this incredible opportunity to get noticed?

Let’s take blind dating for example; 10 years ago the research phase was limited, so you were more likely to cross your fingers and jump in with both feet.

But what if that hot date lacked a social footprint in 2018, you’d probably swipe left and move on. I mean, what are they hiding?

Creating content that focuses on your personality increases your chance of wooing the consumer and starting a long and lasting relationship

Swipe right, schwing!

For many of us it’s a daunting prospect to promote ourselves across web 2.0 (and beyond), for the express purpose of being prodded and probed.

But it’s essential to understand the huge value to be gained by embracing this chapter in the customer/consumer decision-making process.

And so the market respectfully but rather impatiently asks you to step forward and put on a media show…

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