Archive for the ‘Value Proposition’ Category

One of the most frequently voiced complaints I hear about marketing is that it’s “squishy.”  People have trouble drawing a connection between the research, branding, positioning and communications that we do into real-world, value creating action.  One of my favorite illustrations of how a company successfully has translated “theory” into “action” is a recent advertising campaign from Symantec.  

The messaging in the advertising focuses on the customer – what their concerns and fears might be surrounding security.  Then, they created scenarios that illustrate their fears — but not in a frightening way.  Instead, they opted for entertainment value to create memorable scenarios that drive home their key messages without intimidating their viewers.

The TV commercials in the campaign showcase scenarios of cybercrime (watch them here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avG0Eh-Uq2g).  For example, in “The Bank of Nikolai” you meet Nikolai, a cyber thief.  He tells you that he has a bank, it’s very safe and if you give him your money, it will be very safe — “right here, in my front pocket.”  The video closes with Symantec’s key message for that commercial — a statistic about cybercrime, “Cybercrime has now surpassed illegal drug trafficking as a criminal moneymaker.” 

Symantec effectively created an entire series of these commercials that showcase their key messages.  They have been very effective in communicating these messages in an entertaining way and on a medium (YouTube) that makes it easy to forward the video to your friends.

Symantec did one thing very well — they focused on translating all that research, positioning and messaging into something tangible that created value for their company.  Bravo!


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A brand messaging architecture is the first thing you should develop to help you manage your brand image and communications.  It is primarily used by internal departments and external vendors (such as PR firms) who communicate externally to customers, partners, and influencers.  The brand messaging architecture is a formal structure that summarizes and communicates messages about your company, products, and services. 

There are a lot of components to messaging and not all of them will be needed for every brand messaging architecture.  Depending upon your situation, you will choose from the following components to develop the messaging that you need:

– Vision Statement
– Mission Statement
– Positioning Statement
– Value Proposition
– Key Messages
– Proof Points

Here’s an example of a brand messaging architecture for a global non-profit professional association, the Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals (it’s an older version of the brand architecture, so I can share it).

Example: Brand Messaging Architecture

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Branding is as much an art as science.  As a science, there are the “to do’s” of branding which encompass processes and procedures for marketing a product.  As an art, branding is about influencing and managing perception on a grand scale, a much trickier proposition.

So it’s clear there is a lot to building a brand.  Now, where do you start?

Before you create that product launch, media event, or advertising campaign, you’ll need to be clear about who you want to talk to, what you want to say to them, and how you want them to feel about it.  In addition, consumers should be hearing the same messages about your product from all parts of your organization.  So, if you are selling an apple, it wouldn’t be good if some people in your organization describe the apple as red, juicy, and delicious, but others are talking about how great apple trees are for planting in a garden.

My new book, Before the Brand, contains a process that will help you create a messaging baseline for your company, product, or service.  I developed the process over the course of many years providing messaging for high technology companies such as Apple, Adobe, and Cisco.

But the value in the process described in Before the Brand isn’t simply the solid foundation you will create with positioning and messaging.  Rather, one of the most significant values of the messaging process itself is that it’s experiential.  You will take the people who know and care about your company, product, or service through a step by step process that results in alignment of participants – from company executives and stakeholders to partners and customers.  In addition to creating alignment – and therefore making it easier to communicate consistently – participants will also consciously debate what kind of perception they want to create in the mind of your consumer.

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It’s been a while since my last blog post, and that’s because I’ve been in the process of publishing my new ebook!

I am truly excited to announce the publication of  “Before the Brand: Using Positioning and Messaging to Build Brand Identity.” 

Think about it.  How is your brand perceived?  Unless you consciously define your brand, your customers will create their own perception. This book helps you take control of your brand by defining what your brand is before your marketplace does.  It contains a step-by-step process to create positioning, value propositions and messaging, making it much easier to influence customer perception of your brand.

To learn more, or to purchase a copy ($10 USD), click here.

And there is another change you may have noticed.  My blog brand has changed from “Marketing Magic” to “Before the Brand.”  I’ve had so much interest in the intricacies of positioning and messaging that I’ve evolved this blog to cover that topic more fully.  In upcoming posts, you will learn:

  • How to create a value proposition
  • How to manage brand perception
  • How to position your product
  • What the difference is between vision statements and mission statements
  • …. and much, much more!

I’m pleased to bring my subscribers new, useful tools to help them in their day-to-day work.  Go forth, and make your mark!

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In this series of posts, I’m reviewing how to conduct a messaging process.  On July 14, I presented Part 2 of how to conduct a Strategy Workshop, centered around the agenda and how to get the attendees engaged and creating the Positioning Statement.  Today, I discuss post-workshop activity, including finalizing and validating the messaging you’ve created.


Now that you completed the first two phases of the messaging process, Discovery and the Strategy Workshop, you’ll move into the final phase.  in this phase, you will finalize the messaging, then validate it with key influencers to be sure that you have hit the mark.

Finalizing the Messaging

To finalize the messaging, review the positioning statement that the participants created in the Strategy Workshop.  You may want to word-smith it a bit to make it flow more smoothly.  Then, taking the positioning statement and the information gathered during the Discovery phase, you should have enough information to draft the following two deliverables:

  1. Brand Architecture.  This consists of the Positioning Statement, Key Messages and Proof Points, and, if your messaging process was extensive, you may also have developed a Vision Statement, Mission Statement and Tagline.  Read my post from April 8, 2010, for more detail on creating a the Brand Architecture.
  2. Messaging Document.  These are commonly used by company executives to stay in alignment on messages around different products and services.  But they are primarily used by PR people and marketing people to produce marcom materials.  They usually consist of the following information:
    • Boilerplates:  25 and 50 word descriptions of the topic.
    • Specific Messages:  Then you’ll produce messages in the following format for Industries, Audiences, Partners, and Customers:
      • Introduction
      • 3 Key Messages
      • Descriptive Paragraph

Read my post from April 14, 2010, for more detail on creating a Messaging Document.

Messaging Validation

Next, it’s time to test your messages to see if:  a) they capture the points you were trying to make, b) they communicate what you are trying to say clearly and succinctly, and c) they resonate with your key audiences.

Most validation processes are not fancy.  It may be as simple as sending the document to a select group of people who can represent the interests of core audiences or industries.  In more elaborate messaging processes, you can actually conduct a formal validation, with surveys, demos and even focus groups.  It all depends upon the scale — and strategic value — of the project you have undertaken.

In my next post, I’ll discuss how to evangelize your new messages.  After all, if you create them and no one uses them, then what was the point in creating them?

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In my role as marketing practice lead at Phoenix Consulting group, I just completed a project with a top Silicon Valley software company, where we put together a partner value proposition for them.

Some of my top blog posts center on how to put together a value proposition, so I know this is a hot topic for my readers.  Taking value propositions to the next level in complexity is creation of a value proposition that works for partners, vendors and customers alike.  The principal of PhoenixCG, Norma Watenpaugh, has developed a methodology for creating these partner value propositions and she is my guest blogger today.  Today’s blog entry is the second part of a two part series.  Read part one here, posted June 24.  You can read more about PhoenixCG at www.phoenixcg.com. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Building Win-Win-Win Partner Value Propositions

Case Example: Global Systems Integrator

by Norma Watenpaugh, Principal, PhoenixCG

A global systems integrator teamed with a large service provider carrier to provide end-to-end application hosting services.  The service provider was losing business and customer confidence due to poor performance and execution.  There was a shortage of skilled expertise in delivery of hosting services and deploying business applications. There was also a lack of formalized processes and procedures for implementation.

In joining forces with a systems integrator, the service provider’s organization was augmented with an influx of additional skilled resources and best practices in client services management, governance, business process management, and transformation management.  The carrier provided the network and computing infrastructure, system monitoring and maintenance.  Both took joint responsibility for change management and end to end service management.  The value proposition for this alliance was clearly defined for all stakeholders and in all three value dimensions:

  • Solution value to the customer was recognized in increase of services delivery quality. Problems were solved before deployment through assessment services, resulting in increased customer satisfaction and increased customer retention.
  • Financial value was recognized in more services delivered to the customer and greater profitability through less problematic service delivery that ate up resources to correct.
  • Sales value was demonstrated in an improved win-rate through increased customer confidence by the combined resources of both companies. This of course added to the financial value in terms of incremental new business.


In my next post, I’ll continue discussing the messaging process and will review it’s second phase, the Strategy Workshop.

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In my role as marketing practice lead at Phoenix Consulting group, I just completed a project with a top Silicon Valley software company, where we put together a partner value proposition for them.

Some of my top blog posts center on how to put together a value proposition, so I know this is a hot topic for my readers.  Taking value propositions to the next level in complexity is creation of a value proposition that works for partners, vendors and customers alike.  The principal of PhoenixCG, Norma Watenpaugh, has developed a methodology for creating these partner value propositions, and she’s my guest blogger today.  You can read more about PhoenixCG at www.phoenixcg.com.


Building Win‐Win‐Win Value Propositions: The Key to Sustainable Partnerships

by Norma Watenpaugh, Principal, PhoenixCG

How often do partner managers or management focus only on, “What do we get out of the deal?”  While it is important as good business managers that we understand the return on investment on our partnerships and alliances, it is also important to understand that viable, sustainable partnerships are based on a more complex value proposition.  A winning value proposition isn’t just a two way proposition. It is a three way proposition. One that includes not only what your partner gets out of the deal, but also what your joint customer gets out of the deal. 

Successful go-to-market alliances start with a compelling JOINT value proposition that addresses the customer buying motivations first. Creating value propositions for all stakeholders in the partnership creates not just a WIN-WIN partnership, but a WIN-WIN-WIN where the customer wins, too.  Customer value ultimately translates into value for the partners in creating product or service opportunities and new sales opportunities. This value triangle is often expressed as “partner math,” where 1+ 1 >3.

What happens if any of the three value propositions is weak? Then, investment and commitment to the alliance will diminish for lack of a compelling return on investment. When customer value proposition is weak, sales of the joint offer will falter for lack of a compelling reason to buy on the part of the targeted customers. Alliance case studies have shown that successful go‐to‐market partnerships not only define value of all the stakeholders but also define partnering value in three dimensions. They include:

  • Solution value that addresses key customer buying motivations will create competitive advantage and drive revenue generation.
  • Financial value will create motivations for both partners to invest and commit to the alliance.
  • Sales and marketing value will drive active sales engagement and joint selling.

To learn more about partner value propositions, go to www.phoenixcg.com.

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