Want to grow your startup? Stop talking and thinking about your company so much and spend more time helping your customers.
Do you know why a lot of startups fail? It’s not just about funding. According to CB Insights, 42% of startups fail due to a lack of market need–because the entrepreneurs behind them are too fixated on their idea instead of solving a problem.
The best entrepreneurs don’t give a damn about ideas, because their customers don’t care about them, either.
Successful entrepreneurs know that their success doesn’t count on hitting the lottery with a single amazing idea. They are able to build successful businesses, then start over and do it again and again–because they know what customers care about.
Your Customers Care About Value
There’s a single question that goes through every customer’s mind when they consider your product or service: “How is this valuable to me?” The most successful startups nail down exactly why something they’re offering is valuable to a certain audience, and they leverage that to build a huge value proposition.
I have talked myself out of more purchases than I can remember while standing in front of a product, holding it in my hands, and asking myself, “Do I need this right now? How is this valuable to me right now?”
I’m not really thinking about the price. I’m not paying any attention to the packaging. I’m looking specifically at the value proposition. More often than not, I’ll put it back because the question goes unanswered, or I decide the answer to the question is, “Nope. No value right now.”
If I put a product back on the shelf, that’s a failure on the company. There has to be absolutely no question of the value behind your product, service, webinar, Ebook, online course, etc. It’s a given that you need to make something that people want. Your goal from there is get customers to review their options and decide that not purchasing from you is a mistake.
“You don’t find customers for your products,” writes Seth Godin, author of The Dip. “You find products for your customers.”
Identify Value by Caring About What Your Customers Care About
When you shift your focus from the idea of your startup to creating value, then you begin to see through the eyes of your customer. It becomes crystal clear that the only thing your customers care about is how your product affects their situation. How is it valuable?
Your customer is constantly asking the question, “Is this the right choice or am I wasting time/money?” You have to give them a reason to care so they take action, and they feel good doing it. When you care about their needs it becomes much easier to find the real value and create a compelling value proposition.
Your value proposition explains:
- How your product solves problems/improves situations
- What specific benefits customers can expect
- Why customers should buy from you over your competitors
A good value proposition can be read–and understood–quickly. It communicates specific results, but it’s not done in boring corporate babble. It’s communicated in a very personal way that’s relatable, often through simple storytelling and visuals.
Your value proposition is not a slogan. It is not a position statement, such as “The #1 Retargeting Platform.” And it’s definitely not an idea.
“Brain research proves that humans make decisions that are more adaptive than rational,” writes Tim Riesterer, CMO of Corporate Visions. “They need to see a change in their environment that makes the status quo no longer acceptable. They need to see that change is coming now–and fast. And, they need to see your solution as critical to their survival.”
Selling the Value Proposition
If you want people to care about your startup, you have to build value first and then get people to believe in it. People won’t ever buy from you if they don’t even understand why they need to pay attention.
Consider this example: You launch an online store selling electronic cigarette devices because the industry is booming right now. You have an average selection of popular equipment, decent prices, standard shipping, good customer service, a quality guarantee, and a decent Ecommerce website.
Why should any customer interested in vape products buy from you? There’s probably a competitor who is beating you in one or more of those aspects. You don’t have to be the best in every way, but if you’re the best in at least one way then you’re the best choice for the customers who value that specific thing. That’s the value proposition that you need to sell.
Not the idea, not the product, but that one thing–sell the value proposition, because that’s what the customer really wants.
Apple doesn’t offer the largest selection of consumer mobile electronics. We know that Amazon isn’t the most prestigious of online retailers. Ikea doesn’t exactly make assembly easy. Customers are buying from them for other reasons.
“The secret isn’t necessarily in the value, ” writes Sonia Simone, Chief Content Officer for Rainmaker Digital. “It’s in giving customers what they want.”
Customers Care about REAL Value
If you say, “My pizza sauce is the best pizza sauce in the United States,” is that going to make scores of people flood your website and buy out your product?
Of course not–they’re not going to believe you. You can’t prove it. If you can’t prove your value proposition, then it’s nothing more than marketing chatter and it’s no better than pushing the idea of your startup. Customers won’t care.
You can’t persuade people with vague promises, corporate jargon, ideas, and feature lists while the value is buried in the funnel. Customers won’t spend time figuring it out on their own.
Use studies, testimonials, social proof, and real data to validate your claims and prove real value. Customers are looking for that, and a value proposition that strikes home is going to hold their attention.