Customer Value Proposition? So what?!!

So What?Does your marketing and sales collateral work well? Do they present an understandable value proposition to your potential customer? Unfortunately most companies offer weak and worthless value propositions – if anyone at all.

I spent (read; wasted) a couple of hours looking at websites, marketing materials and sales documentation. All of it intended to generate sales leads and potential customers. They were published by small to large companies in various industries, and admittedly – my findings were exceptionally depressing*.

What is a Value Proposition?

A value proposition is a short, easy to understand statement which explains the tangible results a customer will get from using your product or service. A good value proposition is very specific. It is short and explains your advantage over competition. It can also address customer pain or – perhaps even better – create a customer need not caused by pain.

Let’s have a look at what I found;

  • Our product use the latest technology
  • We will always be focusing on the best solution to ensure optimization of your results.
  • 100 Percent dedicated to providing quality services to our clients
  • […] features a new electronics platform to meet current and next generation applications.
  • Our product has a unique and innovative design
  • Consistent in both pricing and products
  • Our priority is to satisfy the demands of our customers to the full extent.

Oh dear.

My initial response to each and every one of them was a loud and clear “So what?”  The second response was that I won the Bullshit Bingo amazingly fast!

These pretend-to-be-value-propositions do not add any visible value or customer benefit. And the customer will most likely be “Bye, bye! I’m going elsewhere!” or just “So what!?”

 “Consistent in both pricing and products”! What does that mean? That you keep on selling your overpriced and miserable products as always?

Our product has a unique and innovative design” Yes! I am sure it has! And it tells me absolutely nothing! In fact, my daughter (3) created something yesterday – which was both unique and innovative. Unfortunately I have no Idea what it actually was.

And, unless you explain why this brand spanking “new electronics platform” give your customer benefits and value, you have most likely given your potential customer a laugh rather than having created a demand for your sales organization to fulfill. To me a new electronics platform indicates a more expensive product, as you need return on your investment, right…?

What you really need to do is to explain how it can…

  • increase my profitability
  • increase my efficiency
  • decrease my costs
  • in one way or another give me added, visible and tangible, value

How do I make my value visible?

It’s simple. Just say “So what?”

  • So what if it has a new electronics platform?
  • So what if it has a unique and innovative design?
  • So what if it is innovative?
  • So what if it is next generation?
  • So what…?

Take your current marketing and sales collateral and look at it. Sit down with your colleagues and spend a few minutes on your current value proposition. Let us use one of the above as an example where you use the simple question “So what” to each argument – until you actually can bring tangible value to the table:

You: Our new office table has a unique and innovative design

Me: So What?

You: It is better for you employees

Me: So what?

You: It will increase the blood flow of your employees while working

Me: So what?

You: It will help avoid muscle stress and injuries

Me: So What?

You: It will make them less prone for injuries and will increase their efficiency

I hear you!

I would then pitch the table in the marketing material as:

We offer an office table that increases efficiency by reducing your employers work related injuries and absence.

Rather than;

We offer an office table with a unique and innovative design!

Your customer does not care about uniqueness or innovations unless they are manifested in tangible values. Yes, it is longer. If you REALLY need to add uniqueness and innovations – add it to the end.

We offer an office table that increases efficiency by reducing your employers work related injuries and absence – through our unique and innovative design.  

“So what” will lead you to something tangible. It will lead to you value. It will lead you to a value proposition.  



* Since I’m a nice guy, I will not out any individuals or companies, but… Perhaps next time?


  1. I found your “So what” strategy for creating a clear value statement really interesting from a sales/marketing perspective and also I can visualize its use in the context of internal marketing and product enhancement proposals. I think if I were to use this strategy in a face-to-face conversation to help someone expand their thinking on a concept they want to present, I would change the “So what?” to “And this will lead us to…..?”

    1. Glad you found it interesting, and I agree. The concept of using “And this will lead us to…?” (or the more aggressive “So What?”) is one that can easily be adopted into various kinds of internal marketing. Product as well as Corporate Marketing would benefit from this.

      We also use this process in the sales training that we run. This really makes the sales team think twice before they through out some vague unique selling points and clearly shows that they understand the real, underlying, customer value proposition.

  2. Chris Mario · · Reply

    Nice blog, on point and pithy! One consequence of the abundance of “instant” product managers is feature laden Customer Value Props. Using the “So what?” concept described is a very powerful way to effect positive change in the way people think about what the real CVP includes. Thanks for sharing.

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