The Myth of the Elusive Unique Value Proposition

Posted by Mark Figart on August 07, 2018

Here's a question that has challenged MSPs since the beginning of, well, MSPs:

What is your unique value proposition?

The problem as I see it is less about the typical deer in the headlights response than with the question itself. As an MSP you have a number of value propositions, not just one. What's more, "unique" is a subtle and complex qualifier. It's likely there are a number of characteristics—or combinations thereof—with which to accurately label your offerings that could be deemed unique, some perceived as more or less valuable depending on who you ask.

But subtlety and complexity are not typically attributes of an effective messaging strategy, where clarity and simplicity rule the day.

So how, then, do you achieve this goal of helping your prospects understand the unique value of working with you while avoiding long-winded recitation of all the things you and your firm do "better" than a competitor?

It may be more simple than you think. To help prospects understand your value, you should spend as little time talking about yourself and your offerings as possible. Instead, you should turn the lens onto your customer, illustrating your value through your understanding of their challenges and opportunities. I have two favorite ways to do this.

First, tell stories of obstacles encountered and overcome that your prospect will relate to.

Want to sell IT services to a printer? Then speak her language and reference problems you've encountered in the printing industry. Want to sell IT services to an engineering firm? Then talk about challenges you've seen in other engineering firms. This not only demonstrates your potential for creating value, it highlights your firm's unique potential among a competitive sea of look-alikes.

Secondly, prioritize benefits over features when describing your offerings. As with the technique above, do your best to articulate the benefits in a way that is specific to your prospects' businesses. For example, rather than say that your managed security offering reduces downtime brought on by successful phishing attacks, you might tell your medical practice prospect that he will improve patient experience through reduction of system downtime. This is a benefit that a medical practice can relate to, one which addresses on ongoing challenge in that industry. It also helps keep the focus off of you and on your prospect.

To speak knowledgeably in the language of your prospects requires deep expertise pertaining to the battlefields on which your prospects go to fight every day. As a provider of professional services, your expertise will always be your most powerful means of providing unique value, but only as long as you are able to develop that expertise to a greater extent—and promote it more effectively—than your competitors. Specialization is a proven path toward both deeper expertise and greater empathy toward your prospects.

If your unique value proposition is eluding you, specialization could be worth considering.

Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash

Mark Figart

Founder and President
Meet Mark, Digett's founder and president, and a professional services practicioner since 1992.

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