“Leaders are teachers and good team members,” according to product designer Barbara Beskind.
“If you can help those who are under you maximize their greatest potential, you’re a successful leader,” Beskind told interviewer Sarah Bielecki for a story on the Stanford Engineering website.[i]
And this could lead someone to ask, “how does Beskind rate an article in Stanford Engineering’s blog pages, and why should I care?” In sales and marketing terms this question is asking about Beskind’s unique value proposition. In a way, everyone determines the value proposition of everything they offer to others.
A value proposition is “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.”[ii] For Bielecki, journalists and blog writers, this question comes into play when we find a source to quote—Why should the reader (our consumers) accept what I am telling them? What value does this expert or authority add to the information I want to share?
Bielecki answered this question by providing Beskind’s “bona fides” or credentials, telling her readers that at the age of 89 Beskind wrote to David Kelly, CEO of IDEO, “offering to help IDEO design for aging and low-vision populations.” Kelly soon hired her, and Bielecki spoke with her three years later, when she was 92 years-old, adding that “Prior to her career at IDEO, Beskind served in the U.S. Army for 20 years as an occupational therapist. She retired as a major in 1966 and went on to found the Princeton Center for Learning Disorders, the first independent private practice in occupational therapy in the United States”—all in all, a unique and beneficial value proposition when discussing the difference between a leader and a manager.
For businesses, the value proposition isn’t about sourcing, it’s about strategy. “Marketing strategy is one of the most crucial Aspects of Sales and Marketing,” according to Marketing Strategy, book three of the SMstudy® Guide,[iii] “It defines a product or brand’s unique value proposition, target markets, and the specific strategies to be used to connect with defined audiences.”
There are many ways for businesses to determine a value proposition—what is the value of the problem being solved, the need being met or the revenue to be earned? An additional approach to complete the value picture is to look at one’s competition. “Competitive positioning tools help a company explore how it can differentiate its product or service offerings in order to create a value proposition for those products or services in the market,” says the SMstudy® Guide. And creating a differentiated competitive position “helps the company maintain focus on each product and its value proposition while developing the key elements of its marketing mix, pricing, and distribution strategy.”
Like the journalist selling the idea that a 92-year-old product designer has something to say about developing leadership, a company has a lot to gain by defining and clearly articulating its value, “when a product’s price, value proposition, and positioning are optimally aligned, a company is in a position to maximize revenues and profits.” And that’s a valuable proposition for any business.
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