composite photographic image consisting of 3 frames, each arrow-shaped and with a text overlay. Facing left, the market arrow with over a group of obscured people. Facing right and located on the top: the second largest arrow says: Value prop over a digital blue abstract image. The smallest arrow, also facing right and located on the bottom right is a solid green with text, alternative offers. It's a bright and upbeat composition.

Scoping Your B2B Value Proposition

A simple, yet comprehensive guide to frame your organizational energy, your solution development and messaging. Read this before commencing work on articulating B2B product messaging (the actual words). Developing your value proposition is grounded in three elements: customer needs, your solution, and alternative offers. It’s about making strategic decisions and aligning organizational energy around those choices. It’s also about

Understanding the needs of your B2B customers and prospects, positioning your offer relative to alternatives in the market place, and requires clear articulation of the problems you solve. Your value proposition, therefore, sits at the intersection of

  • knowledge about your customer,
  • contextualizing your solution relative to the market with some future proofing considerations,
  • and an understanding of the alternatives in your market place / industry.

While crafting messaging requires linguistic skills, thinking about and working on your value proposition requires an understand of all three points above and the ability to make decisions, trade-offs. It, therefore, involves those in your organization who hold this knowledge. It’s not the marketing communication person’s job (unless they are also the CEO).

Understanding B2B Customers

This is absolutely essential to creating, marketing and delivering solutions. Lots of resources to improve customer understanding. If you are yet to be convinced of the need to understanding those you serve, explore whether you show symptoms of poor customer understanding.

Your Product Contextualized To The Market

Your B2B value proposition is grounded what your solution offers prospects today. Many technology solutions start off doing one thing and build from there. The one-thing each solution does is different: faster, easier, or cheaper are usually three different approaches. Typically, the product/offer vision and roadmap require consideration. You don’t want to reorient your objective with every future release. Consider how future releases will expand the problems you solve or address an additional dimension of need. Future release may also improve the core solution. While it can be tempting to overhype what you do today, the main result of overhype is a). overpromising and underdelivering and, sadly, b). stealing from your own future glory. Try and consider what you will want to communicate this time next year.

  • Do you aim to be the best, most comprehensive, all bells AND whistles, or the best value product?
  • Do you (aim to) do everything (in your market segment) or just one thing really really well?
  • Are you aiming for a well-defined specific niche or a more generic, flexible platform?

Example: Align your B2B technology services along maturity chain from least to most mature customer cohorts.

  • Installation:
    • Ensure your set-up is done on-time, on budget and is ultimately, correct.
  • Configuration:
    • Speed your time to value and ensure settings are optimized for your specific business and needs.
  • Integration:
    • Align your new investment with existing capabilities / systems through project design, planning and implementation.
  • On-going Support:
    • Get service level agreement backup for your in-house team so together we effectively manage your most complex challenges or unexpected hiccups over the lifetime of the system.
  • Outsourcing Your :
    • Achieve value quickly and reliably without the need to develop in-house skills by choosing an expert for all or some of the processes.

Solution Strategy and Your B2B Value Proposition

The four P’s is a common marketing framework and includes pricing, promotion, place (meaning channels) and product (as above). In addition to core product capabilities, the three other Ps are part of your solution strategy and need to align with your value proposition. Pricing is perhaps the easiest to grasp. Consider whether you are aiming to position your solution as ‘best in class’, the Rolex of <my market segment, or best value, be the ‘Pound / Dollar / Euro Shop’.

Repositioning – An Example of Changing Value Prop

Considering how the market changes and how organizations align their organization and offering, offers a useful lens to consider value propositions. Repositioning means a deliberate attempt to change the conceptual ‘headspace’ that a brand or product occupies in the mind of customers (and the broader market).

  • From G Suite to Google Workspace, “the best way to create, communicate, and collaborate” as Google works to “better equip [] customers for the future of work” by unifying the experience of working across their collection of software products.
  • From ‘Microsoft Office’ to ‘Microsoft 365’ indicates a move towards subscription only business model with greater focus on online and mobile rather than offline and desktop use purchased product (and less focus on the windows operating system).

Understanding Alternatives in your Market Place

Positioning consider how customers conceive your product and simultaneously how it compares to alternatives. So an understanding of alternative solutions that your prospective client might choose is required. Consider both direct/immediate competitors as well as adjacent products. You don’t need a very complex market map but neither can you proceed in darkness. A list of those to whom you might lose a sale is a good start.

Up Next:

Crafting your solution messaging is a core requirement of articulating your value.

About Jane Morgan

With 20+ years high-tech marketing & product development experience from Boston to Billund, Berlin to Bangalore, Jane has managed teams and tech products with millions of installs, and millions of revenue (annually). She's researched and developed market strategy for global markets, and established the blueprint for product management in many new teams. As an intrapreneur turned entrepreneur, she changed vowels in 2014 and founded JEM 9 Marketing Consultancy. Today she works with CEOs & business leaders to assist them in understanding and reaching customers. Speaker on market research, technology marketing and product management.