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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!” 🙂

Please connect with us, leave your comments and share this article with deserving people.

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