Today, many of the fundamentals of marketing are changing dramatically or being abandoned altogether.

However, a value proposition is still the cornerstone of a sound marketing program. 

Having a solid value proposition that resonates with your client base is the only way for your company to succeed. After all, your firm’s value proposition makes the innovations, products, or services you offer attractive to your client base.

In today’s ever-changing world of disruptive product and service offerings delivered across a constantly growing array of distribution channels, the only way to stay ahead and beat the competition is with a value proposition that stands out.

Here’s what it takes — in five simple steps — to develop a world-class value proposition.

Step 1. Identify the benefits your firm’s innovations, products or services provide to clients.

The best way to do this is through brainstorming. Invite key stakeholders from throughout your organization to one or more sessions. Work together to come up with a list of benefits that your firm’s offerings provide to your consumer base (both intermediaries and end users).

The key to making this exercise successful is to get people to think outside the box. Encourage participants to come up with ideas that are expansive and innovative enough to stand out in a crowded marketplace. 

Encourage those doing the brainstorming to put on their “client hats”. Many business people find it hard to distinguish between what gets them excited and what their clients care about. In the end, the ideas you come up with for your value proposition must appeal to prospective clients who live in the real world outside your office.

Answer the question: What is it that makes your firm’s offerings genuinely attractive to prospects and clients?

If you can't come up with an answer, go back to the drawing board and and refresh your products or services with new features. Your firm won't break through with “average” offerings.

Tip: Some financial and professional services companies serve two “clients”. One is the intermediary who promotes and sells their products or services and the other is the end-user. If that's the case with your company, brainstorm ideas for value propositions that will appeal to both.

Step 2. Link consumer benefits to how your firm delivers value.

Businesses provide value in three ways: cost, technology or service. Figure out which of these — or a combination — your firm excels in.

  • Do you operate on a lower margin than other companies in your category?
  • Does your firm use technology to provide better information, do more effective record keeping or process transactions faster? 
  • Does it provide a higher level of personalized service or can consumers connect with representatives in more efficient ways?

Once your brainstorming team works through questions like these, you should be able to articulate what your firm does to deliver value to its customer base. 

Step 3. Determine what makes your firm’s offerings different and better than those of your competitors.

After steps one and two, you likely have a good sense of whether your company’s offerings are better, faster, cheaper — or some other series of attributes — than those of your competitors.

Most companies don’t need to be leaders in cost, technology and service. In many cases, superiority in one or two is enough to beat the competition. A competitive review will identify gaps in your competitive set that your firm can fill.

Step 4. Write your value proposition. 

A sound value prop is concise and easy for intermediaries to communicate and end users to understand. It should address:

  • Who you’re business is targeting
  • What you’re offering
  • How you deliver it
  • Why you do what you do
  • What makes your offering superior.

Not addressing any of these will lead to a value proposition that rings hollow.

Tip: You may need alternate value propositions for different products, services or markets. Start with a single one, get it right and expand from there.

Step 5. Test your value proposition. 

Gather feedback from people who are representative of your client base to validate your value proposition. Use focus groups, surveys or other research methods to ensure they respond to it as you intend. (Consider testing variations to find a winner.) If your value proposition doesn't test well, go back to the drawing board and come up with new options to put into testing.


Need help developing a value proposition that will set your firm apart from the competition? Carpenter Group has helped differentiate some of the best known brands in the financial, professional services and tech industries for more than thirty five years. We can help you uncover what makes your firm stand out from the pack and articulate it to your client base.

Related information: Learn how to conduct an effective brainstorming session.