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Is Your Unique Value Proposition Working For You?

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If your prospective buyeralreadythinks they need what your competitor has, your route to success is blocked. What then? Clear the way by demonstrating that you understand their problems better than anyone else, even an entrenched incumbent.

The UVP is a concise appeal in the audience’s language that focuses on their needs, problems and issues.

The Unique Value Proposition (UVP) is unique in two ways. Most people know that it sets you apart from your competitors. But, at its best, it is also unique to your specific prospect. 

Once you've finished your UVP, you'll be using it as part of your Capability Statement and Capability Briefing – the other two government business development power tools you'll need to succeed. 

Here's how to develop it – and why you might want several! 

A good Unique Value Proposition (UVP) creates interest to entice someone to meet with you, and communicates easily how and why you stand out and deliver value that is distinct from your competition.

As you develop your Unique Value Proposition, you'll:

  • Determine areas of focus, such as business problems you solve best or solutions you best support.
  • Use those areas of focus to draw up a profile you can use to determine your strongest prospects – both customers and potential partners.
  • Narrow your selection of those you approach, which in turn makes it easier to:
  • Identify the right people, and capture their interest by talking about something they care and expressing it in the language of their niche and their clients or audience.

Here’s what it looks like.

If that particular example sounds like gobbledygook to you, don’t worry. You’re not the target audience. But this very real example was a UVP that opened the door to thousands of dollars in federal contracts for a company once it figured out how to communicate in their buyer’s language.

Four steps to developing a strong UVP


  • Take out the sales language. What are your real offerings and to whom?
  • Which of your offerings need work? Be honest about how you fit into the marketplace. Every company has problems and weak spots, so own up to yours.
  • What do you do really well?
  • Who are your best clients for that service or offering? (Hints: they pay you on time; they come back for more; they send you their friends; your contracts with them are profitable and you’d love more like that.)
  • What business problems do you think solve for them?
  • Now, find time for a short conversation with the key decision makers in those great accounts to ask them just three questions. Write down their responses word for word, because buried in that response are some of the words you’ll want to use.
    • What problem did you want to solve by hiring us/buying our product
    • What did we do for you?
    • What happened as a result?

2. Figure out what sets you apart

  • Map out your strongest competition – the one your prospect is thinking about if they’ve never heard of you (or, worse, even if they have). Look at how they present themselves, and how they communicate their value proposition. Are they successful in the communities you’d like to reach? Where have they sold, what communities do they connect to? If so, then you could deconstruct their UVP as a starting point for your own.
  • What key words do they use to describe the problem they solve? If your competitor’s UVP is good, then those are the words that resonate with the buyers. In the example above, that phrase is “first-time-right repairs.” You might need to use similar or identical words for that part, so your prospects know you’re an option.
  • What's their solution and UVP? How are YOU different? How do your best clients think you’re different?
  • What kind of problem does your prospect organization thinks it has? You may think you provide a technology solution, but to get your prospect’s attention you may need to talk about the end result they want. "More data through the portal" solves a technology problem. That might what they need, but what they’re willing to spend money on is the result "Better customer service." 

3. Substantiate!

  • Collect the examples and case studies that best demonstrate your UVP.
  • Pick different stories to create separate UVPs for different clients or stakeholders. For example, a federal buyer might need improved service levels. But the prime contractor on that same program might be more interested in lower risk, lower cost and more revenue. You do both. You need to lead with separate value propositions that are alluring to each.

4. Put it all together

Edit those into concise, compelling statements that make your company stand out from the competition.

You might need to develop several variations of your Unique Value Proposition, in order to communicate different messages to different stakeholders. Plan to tailor your UVP for each agency you plan to market to, based on their budget, current leading problems and challenges. Even within the agency, how can you adapt your UVP? What matters to an end-user is different from the needs of non-technical executives, buyers, and chief technology officers.

Focus first on the audience and their problems and issues, not on your technology. Use their terminology, not yours, and express your value in terms of what it means for the client.

For a government buyer, how does your offering help them deliver their mission?
For a prime contractor, what have you got that will allow them to win more business or drive more profit? 

  • Will you help them perform at a higher level for their customers, and at a lower cost?
  • How does your contribution differentiate the prime with a unique solution?
  • What relationships and opportunities do you bring?
  • How could you help them improve performance on their service level agreements?
  • What clearances, qualifications and certifications do you already have in place?

Don’t leave this important messaging to chance, or debut it for the first time in an agency meeting. You can test out your UVP in a variety of ways, including professionally-run focus groups, consultation with your cherished clients or your Board of Advisors, or soliciting comments from friends and partners.

This post originally appeared in the WBENC President’s Report at http://www.wbenc.org/default/Documents/Presidents%20Report/wbenc-pres-report-may-2014.pdf.

Tue, 06/24/2014 - 8:34am

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