The Answer is ‘Why?’

Published: Thursday 5th February 2015

First, a big thank you to all those who came to our Early Worm Club, where the subject in the spotlight was “How Compelling Is Your Value Proposition?”  Contrary to what some, apparently, had feared, this was not a ‘name and shame’ exercise, far from it.  It was a stress test, posing those questions which allow you to assess just how good your proposition is, or could be.

Judging from the turnout, it appears that this is a subject that vexes many bright and curious minds; those who appreciate its importance and have spent many hours/days/months trying to create that hook, that succinct and powerful value expression, that will get you noticed and help attract the right kind of clients to your agency – which we identified as just two of the measures of success.

What we discovered along the way is precisely that – ‘what?’  There’s simply too much of it around.  Many agencies position themselves too broadly, failing to stake their claim in a specific area of expertise.  So, they all start to sound the same and use near-identical generic language.  In the absence of a clear proposition, they default to the ‘what’ they do, a description of the services, rather than benefits, they offer.

This resultant lack of differentiation means that your agency simply adds to the white noise in the marketplace; chances are you’ll either be ignored or met with indifference.  And there’s another problem.

Neither clients (nor importantly intermediaries for that matter) have the time or inclination to explore what it is that you are, what makes you relevant and valuable to their business.  The easier your agency makes it for them to find you, the more profitable it is for everyone.

What seemed to ignite a lot of interest was an alternative perspective, an inside-out approach to developing a value proposition.  This drew on the work of Simon Sinek, specifically the Golden Circle concept featured in his book, “Start With Why”. The reason this caught the imagination, I believe, owes as much to the heart as it does to the mind.

By asking the question “Why does the agency do what it does?” you will invariably find yourselves returning to the vision of the agency leadership – the founding principles on which the company was built.  The ‘Why’ ascribes a purpose, a belief, a reason for its creation.  As Sinek goes on to argue, people buy the ‘Why’ not the ‘What’.  Nailing the ‘Why’ unlocks the potential of your value proposition, framing it within a context which has emotional resonance and powerful appeal.

I presented a framework, an approach, for discovering and testing the power of a value proposition. Starting with ‘Why’ will set you on your way.

If you would like more help with refining your agency proposition, please contact the JFDI team – click here.

Janine Abrahams