Although I spoke about this topic in a few forums several years ago, my recent experience made me revisit it because this (phenomena) keeps happening now and then.
Cartoon by Gary Larson
I firmly believe that how customers and suppliers perceive each other mostly and directly impacts the results. If we want to create a real value for everyone, we must shed our perceptions and see-through customer lenses to be more productive.
Value always implies an explicit trade-off between what you give and what you get. And it applies in almost any context.
However, every day — marketers, product developers, people in business keep talking about value. It is one of the most dramatically overused and misunderstood words used in any business conversation. So much so that sometimes the word itself is not appropriate in a given context or it conveys a meaning that is not meant.
There is a real issue of the significant gap between the perception of value by suppliers and by customers, which then impedes the actual value delivery.
The biggest problem is that when everyone is preaching about the value, customers either walk-away or buy whatever they like with zero attention to any of these gimmicks. No one wants fluff but results! If customers see it as a meaningless word, they soon become immune to it. The result — your efforts go directly into the dustbin!
Some people often get confused between value proposition and delivering to the specifications. There is a significant difference between specification and expectation. If you are meeting specifications, you are a professional; but if you meet expectations, you are a value-delivering professional. It means understanding expectations (which are unwritten requirements) is of utmost importance from a value delivery perspective.
If you are meeting specifications, you are a professional; but if you meet expectations, you are a value-delivering professional.
Do you know how customers react to this endless bombardment of value propositions? I recall one of the cartoons by Gary Larson, which made this humorously and painfully clear. This cartoon published in the newspaper had two frames.
The first frame shows a man arriving home and finds that his dog has left a distinctly unpleasant deposit on the living room carpet. The first frame has a title, ‘What the owner said,’ and it shows the man shaking his finger at the dog and giving a stern lecture, “Tommy, you are a bad dog! What have you done! Tommy, you ruined the carpet. You’re manner-less!”
The second frame reads, ‘What the dog heard,’ where we see the dog, wagging its tail, plainly thrilled to see its master, and the caption: “Tommy, blah-blah-blah! Blah-blah-blah-blah, Tommy. Tommy — blah-blah-blah!”
That is how one might hear your value propositions if you put it up in an utterly complicated and fluffy manner.
If you want to deliver real value — don’t try to do it for the heck of doing it. Understand customers deeply, their expectations, requirements, goals, etc. and genuinely work towards delivering solutions.