Working at a creative agency for healthcare brands I use the words ‘value proposition’ perhaps a dozen times a day. It’s part of our everyday language and we urge every one of our clients to have one.

As you know, a value proposition (let’s call it VP) tells the world what your company or offering is about. It’s a beacon; something every marketing and sales message should be working towards, making it easier for audiences to recognise why they should engage with your brand. It acknowledges where you are now and, importantly, where you want to be in the future.

A good VP is invaluable to your internal audiences too, like sales reps. It helps them talk about your brand with more clarity and conviction. This way they can make sure the key customer takeout (that word again) is compelling, different and meaningful. So, job done? Well, not anymore…

Welcome to Value Proposition 2.0

For years, VPs have commonly been based on facts, figure and data. And that was just fine – it did the job well. But that only gets you so far.

With the healthcare sector developing faster than ever, we believe a VP has to be more than just stark clinical evidence and stats. Truth is, every product and service has evidence to back it up. Think about what makes you different. What’s your unique hook? That’s when you’ll stand out from the marketplace.

Emotion first, data second

A VP needs to come from the heart of the product or service you’re selling. And that, without exception, gives way to a more emotive proposition. At the end of the day, people buy from people. And people are not cold, fact-driven, decision-making machines. Actually, our emotions tend to come into play first, then we use the facts to post rationalise our judgments. A purely fact-based play might make sense rationally, but it’s unlikely to help build those emotional connections.

So what do we think makes a good value proposition?

Who are you? And what can you do for me? Two questions every VP needs to answer clearly and concisely. And from my experience that’s the hardest part about creating an effective VP. Keeping things simple. It’s often an exercise in what to leave out, than what to put in. Let’s break those two questions down a bit more.

Who are you? This question is rarely looking for “a leading manufacturer operating in 200 countries with 30,000 employees”. It’s about the fact that “people buy from people.” We care more about whether we trust the person talking than interrogating what they’re saying. So even if you’re working on a product-level value proposition, rather than a brand or corporate one; you can’t “divorce” the “what are we selling” from the “who’s selling it.
Again, think about the emotional take-out that sets you apart.

What can you do for me? It shouldn’t be about you, what you make and what it does. It should be about your audience, the issue they have and how you can solve it.

This is a bit more complicated in health than for other industries, because that “me” can vary based on what hat you’ve got on. Especially if your audience is “b2b”, there are probably personal, organisational and patient challenges to consider. The important thing is to work out what problems your brand solves and which of these is going to be the most compelling.

Rayner came to us because they had a fantastic and innovative product to launch in RayOne, a cataract lens and injection system. The challenge was that their surgeon audience saw the category as “much of a muchness”: the danger was that they might not notice what was different.

Being a creative agency for healthcare brands we helped them focus on what made their product different; the lock and roll mechanism. This clarity meant we were able to inspire creative that brought this to life in the most unexpected and eye-catching way.

Don’t throw the baby away…

That said, we shouldn’t abandon the clinical evidence and results information that used to drive the VP. After all, this is useful information and reasons to buy. But it should be positioned as support for the main VP. These are why you should believe our VP.

Consistency, consistency, consistency…

So, let’s say you have your perfect VP. It’s based on a human/patient benefit or need and is backed up with solid evidence. Now you have to stick to it, throughout all the various mediums and situations when people may come into contact with your brand.

Sitting with the sales rep, reading your brochure, browsing your website, listening to your radio ad or standing in front of your conference stand. Repetition and consistency of message leads to familiarity and trust.

In short…

A successful value proposition is usually:

  1. Human and emotional
  2. Focused on audience benefit (not company or product features)
  3. Relevant to the audience
  4. Single minded
  5. Distinctive – even if the product is similar to another, there’s always room to “be different” (or at least give the impression it is)

We are a leading independent creative agency for healthcare brands, if you’d like to talk to us about how we can help, or if you’d like to organise a value proposition workshop, please get in touch with Ed Hudson.