Brief videos viewable in 6 subsections of Concepts/Overview
In these brief Video Summaries, DPV Group founder Michael Lanning introduces some of the key DPV concepts.
Do you have a great idea for a product or service but you are not sure whether people will buy it? Does your organization have a great concept, but you have not yet figured out how to explain it to customers in a way that will click with them? Does your organization already offer a great product or service, but customers do not seem to know about it or fully understand and appreciate the value it can bring to them? Here we offer a simple process based on decades of experience in helping businesses communicate great ideas to customers in ways that resonate with them and gets them to buy and use your product or service. On the surface, it is deceptively simple: focus on what’s in it for the customer, based on a real understanding how customers use your product1 and what he or she gets out of using it.
This process can help you turn your brilliant new product and/or service into an equally brilliant communication plan that will deliver the results you should expect. You can do this by clearly articulating your idea in ways that resonate with your customers, and overcomes the three important challenges in communicating your idea:
Effective communication is the last step in a series of business activities that start with a thorough understanding of the customer, the development of a product or service that can better meet customer wants and needs, and the creation of a process to actually make the product and/or deliver the service.
So, before working on communication, you need to ask yourself whether you really have a good idea that customers will care about. In other words, do you have a value proposition that can meaningfully improve the experience of customers? We suggest that you need to be able to answer the following questions:
Are you confident in your answers to these questions? Do you believe that, if your target customers did what you want, they would be better off than with any alternative? If not, you need to further explore and analyze your market and capabilities. But if so, you have a superior value proposition – a great idea.
If you conclude you have a product that represents a strong value proposition for your customers, you of course need to be able to actually make the product – or operate the service – as intended.
And, if your primary customer is not the business that actually buys from you, you will need to figure out how to get intermediaries on board, such as brokers, distributors, wholesalers, retailers, etc., or such as manufacturers who use your product as a component of theirs.. In this case, we suggest you use a concept we call “Supporting Value Proposition” to make sure you have a compelling way for intermediaries to support the delivery of your value proposition to your primary customers. The intermediaries normally want to deliver better solutions to the primary customers down the chain, but they want to do this in a way that improves their business as well. It will help if you can answer the same four questions above for each of the critical intermediaries in the chain.
There are many ways to communicate or “sell” the idea to your customers. Choosing the right way can make all the difference in the eventual success or failure of your idea.
Before you get lost in all the options, and the many creative ways to use these options, we believe you need to have a clear and simple communication strategy based on a thorough understanding of the key challenges you will face in communicating the idea (i.e., your value proposition). The key issues you need to explore in developing this strategy are clarity, differentiation, and credibility.
There are two issues that need be clearly understood by the target audience:
For each resulting experience, your communications must ensure that customers understand how it will be different from the competing alternatives. Most strong value propositions will have some resulting experiences that are better than competing options, some experiences that will be the same, and maybe some experiences that will actually be inferior. The latter are the “trade-offs” that may be necessary to get an overall better experience. For example, Southwest Airlines offers lower fares and no fees, but it does not offer seat reservations or interline ticketing and baggage transfers. Thus, travelers who want to benefit from the lower cost, will need to settle for whatever seat is still open when they board the plane, and will need to handle their own transfer arrangements if they connect with another airline.What to emphasize, about what to reassure customers, and what to ignore?
At this stage in the process, it usually helps to examine which resulting experiences should be communicated to customers. Clearly, in most cases, the emphasis will be on resulting experiences that are important to customers and are clearly superior to competing alternatives. It is very important to help customers understand how the product will improve their business, using quantitative measures as discussed above. In the end, this is where the sale needs to be made.
In many cases, beyond this focus on the clearly superior resulting experiences, it is also necessary to reassure customers that other also-important resulting experiences will not be inferior. The customer needs to be reassured that they will not have to compromise on these other experiences, in order to get the superior results your product offers. It usually does not require much effort to communicate these comparable resulting experiences, since they are equal to what customers are currently familiar with. In some cases, it may require some effort if customers would expect to get a trade-off. For example, if customers expect Fiat to be a less reliable car based on historical experience, but in fact it will equally reliable, it will be important to reassure them that the new Fiat is different and comparable in quality to other cars.
Lastly, it will be important to decide whether to address trade-offs in communicating the value proposition. It some cases, it may be best to not mention the trade-off in initial communication, but be prepared to address it if and when customers realize the potential negative experiences. This can work well when the trade-off is in less important areas which many customers can be expected to ignore and/or simply accept. For example, the lower gas mileage in SUVs in well known and may not need to be addressed in selling the vehicles.
With other trade-offs, it may be better to include it in some form in the initial communication to avoid disappointments later in the process. L’Oreal’s “ … it’s more expensive, but I am worth it” is a classic in addressing a premium pricing issue head on. The same may be needed for many commercial and industrial products. In many cases, it helps to acknowledge a premium price and help the customer put the added cost into appropriate perspective, i.e., show that the added value is much greater than the higher price.
Once the resulting experiences are clear to customers and customers understand how they are different from their competing options, there is one last hurdle to overcome: What is needed for customers to believe in the promise? Customers are naturally skeptical of promises in advertising and sales communication. They have had many experiences where actual results did not live up to the promises made in selling a product or service.There are many ways to add credibility to the promise of the resulting experiences. Some key options are as follows:
With all this work done, you can now hand your product over to your communications experts, whether they be internal (Sales, Marketing Communication, etc.) or External (Advertising or PR Agency, Broker, etc.).
You have a clear strategy of what you need your experts to communicate:
And you have a clear strategy of how you need them to communicate, to achieve: