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Does Your Value Proposition Need a Checkup? Your statement of what you offer and why it's better needs to be succinct and memorable. Here is a way to check that it is.

By John McAdam

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Investopedia defines value proposition as "a business or marketing statement that summarizes why a consumer should buy a product or use a service. This statement should convince a potential consumer that one particular product or service will add more value or better solve a problem than other similar offerings."

In other words, a value proposition is a statement of what your business does that's better than your competitors. How do you know if your value proposition needs a checkup? Here's a test.

Have you ever met someone for a second time at a networking meeting, and they didn't remember you or what you do? How do you feel? If you're in sales, then this situation is disastrous. If you can remember them and what they do, why can't they remember you and what you do? At a minimum, most of us would feel confusion. Others would feel frustration, or perhaps even anger. To be fair, people forget names, places, and businesses all the time, so it should come as no surprise that someone might forget about you. However, if multiple people are forgetting you and your business, then it might be time to give yourself a value proposition checkup.

Related: The 3 Deadly Sins of Networking

Other than people forgetting what you do, there are other signs to watch for that your value proposition needs revisiting. Here are some questions that you can ask either yourself or others. An affirmative answer to each of these questions means that your value proposition is in great shape. A negative response indicates that it is time for a checkup.

  • Could a typical businessperson repeat your value proposition accurately?
  • Would that businessperson remember your typical customer?
  • Is the repeated value proposition brief and clear?
  • Does what they say evoke emotion?
  • Do people ask you a follow up question about you or your business?

  • Do people find what you do valuable, relative to similar offerings?

Related: How to Develop and Evaluate Your Startup's Value Proposition

If you're unsure how to go about this, then here's a quick test for you. Ask someone you know -- a friend, family member or trusted business associate -- to repeat your value proposition back to you. If you're feeling brave, then ask your friend to tell you what you do without reminding them first. Otherwise, tell a person your value proposition and have them repeat it back to you.

The idea here is simple: if people remember what you do and can repeat it back to you, then you're memorable. If you're memorable, they might tell other people about you, which can generate word-of-mouth referrals for your business.

If you got a negative response to any of the questions you have some refining to do.

For a checkup, it helps to write your value proposition down, but be careful. People speak differently than they write. When you speak, you want to pay attention to the person in front of you. You don't want to recite from a script. Your business speech and interactions need to have a natural flow and progression.

Try this value proposition exercises, called the "What Do You Do?" exercise. Answer the question about what you do by filling in the blanks in two of the following sentences:

We work with people who need _____.

This benefits them by ___.

A value proposition is basically a statement of what you do that's more valuable than other offerings. The best way to tell if you need a checkup is to objectively observe how others respond to your value proposition delivery. If someone can repeat accurately what you do, recognize your customer and understand what makes your offer comparatively more valuable, then you are in great shape. If not, don't worry. Most of us need to refine our value proposition from time to time.

Related: Want to Stand Out From the Crowd? Know Your Unique Value Proposition.

John McAdam

Strategic Business Planning Expert for Established Business Owners

John McAdam has decades of business experience as a hired CEO, serial entrepreneur and instructor. He holds an MBA from the Wharton School and has taught strategic business planning at the Wharton Small Business Development Center for years. McAdam is the author of The One-Hour Business Plan (Wiley) and advises businesses on strategic business planning, corporate culture changes and new business initiatives.

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