The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book, What’s In It For Me? The Driving Force Behind Decisions and Better Leadership, due to be published in the Spring of 2016.
“We change people’s lives.” Talk about a great WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?) response! Wouldn’t we all love it if every person, product, or service had the actual ability to change people’s lives? Now, some do change lives – for better or worse – but there’s no argument that lives are indeed changed. But to “change a life” is such a broad and ubiquitous term. Now that we know that relevant and unique marketing is what’s needed, “changing lives” seems a tad too generic. It also sounds hokey. (Yes, I just used the word hokey.)
Consumers are weary of the same old sales pitches, the same gimmicks, and the same over-the-top promises that aren’t kept nearly as often as they should be. And their fatigue is certainly justifiable. Indeed, just about every company promises to deliver the “best service.” Saying this borders on sociological cliché.
People are tired of being disappointed. And they’re calling bluffs – more so now than ever before. Organizations are faced with a litany of new challenges. In the past, if someone received bad service, they’d probably tell a few people. But they would be limited to the times when they were in another’s company or perhaps talking on the phone. And after a while, the anger dissipates. The situation is put aside.
Fast forward to now….with the dawn of social media, an unsatisfied customer can express his displeasure to hundreds or thousands of people in seconds. Twitter still limits most messages to 140 characters. But saying “XYZ Company SUCKS” is way fewer than 140. Facebook has 1.2 billion users. That’s about 1/6 of the world’s population. We have a 24 hour news cycle where nothing is kept secret for long. Google +, Pinterest, Instagram…..you can get a headache trying to keep them all straight. And let’s not forget about Yelp….seems everyone has an opinion and they’re not afraid to share them, good or bad.
You’ve probably heard phrases like, “rise above the pack,” “stand out from the crowd,” and “differentiating factor.” You know that you have to identify your “WOW aspect.” It has to be different, unique, and dynamic. For this reason alone, it should now be clear why saying “we have the best service” is not an option. Everyone says it. It’s stale. And once again, people are tired of hearing it and getting disappointed when that promise turns out to be empty.
For our purposes, we are going to use the term VALUE Proposition instead of “differentiating factor” or “WOW aspect.”
The VALUE Proposition is defined as the reason anyone should listen to you, do business with you, and trust you. In the simplest of terms, it’s the ultimate answer to WIIFM – what’s in it for me?
Easy enough, right? If it were only so. Creating a true VALUE Proposition is painstakingly difficult. It requires focus and determination. It requires commitment and compromise. It takes time. But you shouldn’t even attempt to sell anything, make a decision, issue an order, or try to lead people until you have it.
There are way too many organizations that overcomplicate this process. They’ll create “focus groups” that will meet monthly for a year or more to get it “just right.” They’ll ask for input from everyone with a pulse. They’ll try to sound smarter than is necessary and want to incorporate superfluous or lofty language into their masterpiece. None of this is needed. In order for your VALUE Proposition to resonate, it needs to be simple and short.
Here’s the process to follow when creating your VALUE Proposition.
Get your senior leadership team in a room. Make time for this. Do not try to coordinate schedules. Do not try to accommodate everyone. Pick a day, pick a time, and make sure everyone is there. Don’t invite everyone who works for you. Invite only the people that are responsible for the highest level of decision-making. That isn’t to suggest that other people’s input isn’t important. But this process has to be compartmentalized for it to work properly.
Make sure no one comes in with an agenda of his or her own. The SOLE purpose of this meeting is to discuss and create a VALUE proposition. Nothing else will be discussed.
Have everyone answer the following questions IN WRITING:
What do we stand for?
Who do we serve? Who HAS to do business with us?
How do we change people’s lives?
Why are we different?
What problems do we solve?
What solutions do we offer?
In other words, your VALUE proposition is the answer to WIIFM!!
If you’re not willing to take the time to create your VALUE proposition (whether you’re self-employed or a leader in someone else’s organization,” close this book now. The rest of it will not make any sense.
In order to become a better decision-maker, a more effective leader, or change lives, you have to be crustal clear on your WIIFM answer. I’ve worked with numerous business owners and leaders on crafting their personal or professional WIIFM answers. Most have wanted to start with creating financial projections or a list of tasks. This just doesn’t work. It’s out of order. When they realize and understand that the only acceptable starting point is to create an impactful VALUE Proposition, then and only then are they prepared for the next steps.