What makes a good Value-Positioning Statement?

Updated: Aug 12, 2020

Many of you are familiar with the “Value-Positioning Statement” template or its many variations. Geoffrey Moore first introduced this concept and template in his influential book, Crossing the Chasm back in 1991. Since then, it has been widely used by entrepreneurs participating in bootcamps, incubators, and market validation courses.

Widely used, yes, but not always to its full potential. One of the common uses for this tool is to generate an elevator-pitch description of your business.We advocate another very powerful use for this template– to guide a more rigorous thought process on who you’re targeting, for what reasons, with what solution, and why your product or service is meaningfully different. Obviously, the Evidology Group are big proponents for the latter objective with the former being a later step.


In more cases than not, the template is quickly filled out, the box is ticked, and it sits on the shelf. Why? I have a few theories:

  1. It’s human nature to get things done and move on

  2. The power of this tool is not fully understood or communicated when introduced

  3. Completed examples and best practice guidance for “having done it well” are missing, and finally,

  4. It’s really hard work. Unlocking the value of the Value-Positioning Statement, no pun intended, takes hours of deep thinking, multiple iterations, and revisiting on a regular basis. It is a living document.

You may be asking yourself, is it worth the effort?


Done right, the outcome of your efforts provides a massive return on investment. First, using the Value-Positioning Statement this way is the starting point for customer discovery – it articulates the hypothesis to be validated. And second, it provides a foundation for internal alignment, product and go-to-market planning, and investor pitches. You will have thought deeply about and more clearly articulated:

  1. Target customers and their characteristics

  2. Product capabilities and associated benefits

  3. The linkage between the identified problem and proposed solution

By now, I hope you’re thinking it might be worth the time and effort and wondering about best practices or an example that helps understand the ideal end goal. So, let’s go there.


Using a hypothetical business here’s what an example Value-Positioning Statement (henceforth calling it a “Summary” since it goes beyond a “statement”) and a Capabilities-Benefits Summary look like.


Wait? What’s with the second template?


The “Capabilities-Benefits Summary” is my favourite tool for figuring out the “That” and “Unlike” sections of the Value-Positioning Summary. I use them to identify the top 3-6 capabilities and what value (key performance indicators, personal or business metrics, etc.) they drive for target customers.


This means my typical approach is to complete “For”, “Who Need/Want”, “The”, “Is a” sections in Value-Positioning, then switch to the Capabilities-Benefits before coming back to summarize that content in the “That” and “Unlike” sections. Got that?


Following best practices is where the really hard work happens. The example provided (link above) has callouts and embedded notes but let me provide some key points here:


In General

  1. Complete one set of templates for each “For” (Ideal Target Customer)

  2. All entries must be concise and specific

  3. Avoid any terminology that is vague or open to interpretation

“For” (Ideal Customer Profile) Section

  1. Identify the target customer based on relevant defining characteristics such as activities, responsibilities, seniority, titles, type of organization, geography, etc.

  2. This section identifies the expected buyer. However, when doing concept validation, you must engage with a variety of stakeholders and value chain participants. For a more detailed explanation refer to this blog on Who/Where/How Do You Recruit for Your Discovery Calls?

“Who Need/Want” (Problem Statement)

  1. Clearly describe the problem or opportunity from a customers’ perspective. In other words, how would they describe their need or want?

  2. The need or want must be measurable or quantifiable in some way

“That” (Proposed Solution)

  1. Use an elevator-pitch format to succinctly capture the WHY, the WHAT, and the HOW for significant and unique capabilities. Think of this as a concise summary of the Capabilities-Benefits content ranked by impact.

  2. Be sure to address all items identified in “Who Need/Want”

“Unlike”

  1. Again, from a customers’ perspective, identify alternative approaches or types of solutions they currently use or have available as a solution AND how these options differ from your proposed solution. This, more likely than not, includes the status quo option which means staying with what they currently do.

  2. “That” and “Unlike” combined should produce a “WOW”! This combination should have the potential to receive a “Wow, you can do that? I need it!” from target customers.

I invite you to check out the above example and this template to see these guidelines in action. As mentioned above, this approach should be thought-provoking and challenging but you’ll be well rewarded. The reward is greater clarity for communicating your vision to drive customer discovery efforts, fundraising, and business planning.


I hope you found this blog useful and invite you to contact us at the Evidology Group. We would be happy to help you with unlocking the value in these templates.

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