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Five Steps to Crafting Your Value Proposition

Posted on February 26 2014 | Author: Admin

The term Value Proposition (VP) is commonly used, and commonly misunderstood. The common definition you will come across sounds something like this one from MaRS Discovery District’s “Value Proposition” article:

“A product’s value proposition is a statement of the functional, emotional and self-expressive benefits delivered by the brand that provide value to the target customer.”

While that certainly explains the components of a VP, it fails to capture the real essence of the term. I like to cut to the chase, which means small, simple words – and as few of them as possible! The VP definition I use:

“A VP is a statement that identifies; a market problem, the person (or business) that has that problem, and your unique solution to that problem.”

When crafting a value proposition there are many things to consider – the following list should help you better define your unique VP:

1. Know your customer!
You can’t be all things to all people. Who is your customer – they need to be clearly identified in your VP. Some products have several separate market segments or stakeholders, defining your VP for each is important.

2. Clearly understand the problem your customer has.
For the most part, people buy products and services to save time, save money, or make their lives easier. All of these motivations have a “problem” that can be identified.

3. Connect your unique solution directly to the problem.
You might have created the widget to rule all widgets, but if you can’t articulate the problem it solves then it’s going to be hard to sell, and even harder to get anyone to invest in it! Tell the reader how your solution makes their life easier/better/faster/cheaper.

4. Tell your customer why your solution is better.
In the world of technology there are often a bunch of startups vying for the same space in the market. This makes it exceedingly important to showcase the benefits of your product/service. Now that you’ve told us what you do, tell us why that’s the best way to do it!

Remember, even if you’re the first to market you have one big, hairy, competitor: the status quo. Your customers are used to doing something the way they have always done it, and you can’t expect them buy something just because you built it.

5. Keep it simple.
Your VP is NOT a technical description. It’s also not a vision statement, mission statement, or witty tag line.  

Keep it simple, tell us who you are, what you do, why you do it, and how you do it better. Nothing less, nothing more.

In closing, here’s an example of a VP that I believe is effective. It comes from 360 Incentives, a rapidly growing SaaS company based out of Whitby, ON.  It’s clear, concise, and to the point. It outlines what 360 does, who they do it for, how they do it, and why they do it better. Check it out below, then see how your VP stacks up!

Click to enlarge

Braden Kemp
Manager, Business Acceleration Services
Spark Centre

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Making the Agri-Technology Investment Connection

Posted on February 18 2014 | Author: Dave Smardon

Having just returned from the European Family Office Conference in London, I am sometimes stricken by the lack of understanding and therefore interest that investors show in the agricultural sector.  For those of you not familiar with the term Family Office, it refers to the people or organizations that manage personal wealth on behalf of wealthy families. Most of the time, family offices represent substantial wealth in the hundreds of millions of dollars or more. Managing such wealth requires a great deal of investment experience and most often involves a rather conservative approach. Investment decisions are driven by opportunities that first and foremost, will preserve family wealth and then if the risks are acceptable, they will attempt to grow the wealth.  The most common investment targeted by family offices is real estate. It certainly meets the criteria of wealth preservation and growth with acceptable risk. Sometimes there is an almost philanthropic approach to certain investments, particularly recently surrounding food and water security, clean energy and health and welfare of the planet.  The media have helped to drive this interest, however, the links to agriculture, while clear, have not been made by these people.

Getting back to the agricultural sector, I remember that while growing up that as a normal everyday Canadian, I never questioned how my food got to the table. Oh, I knew about farms and farm animals like most people but I had no knowledge of the value chain or the technologies being used within the industry. In fact, what stands out in my mind was the TV commercial that espoused, “nothing runs like a Deere” (John Deere actually). So, I suppose I shouldn’t be so surprised by the lack of interest from these investors. If you don’t work within the agricultural sector, or are not exposed to it on a regular basis, then in all likelihood you are just not aware of it as a credible investment sector.

Several years ago, investors began looking seriously at acquiring farmland. As a form real estate investment, it met the family office criteria and it also delivered a “comfort factor” to the investors in that they were investing in food security. While it may have given the investors some philanthropic comfort, it really did little to help the planet. Then the farmland values went crazy, making farmland investment impractical in North America, Australia and parts of Europe.

I was a presenter at this conference in London. My topic was Investing in Agricultural Technology. My objective was to educate the audience.  The good news, what satisfied me the most, was the keen interest shown by so many investors after I had made my presentation. In fact, the interest continued over the next two days. It really highlighted the lack of education amongst the investment community regarding the agriculture sector, agricultural innovation, and how we can impact the planet and human health so dramatically.  We have to continue to build awareness of the issues, focus on the opportunities, and educate the investment community. If we do this, they WILL invest.

Dave Smardon
President & CEO

Image Credit: allaboutalpha.com

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