Creating value propositions

Susan Letterman White
BridgeTower Media Newswires

What’s a value proposition? It’s what you are offering to provide in exchange for your fee. Your value proposition is your service, product or the experience of working with you.

It’s not about your personal brand. It’s not about how able you are to create trusting relationships, in which clients have confidence in your legal acumen and ability. It’s not even about how people feel when working with you, although that is important.

Rather, it’s about the perception held by a client, prospective client or referral source of the unique value you offer to people, the difference you can make in helping them with their problems and goals. It’s about their point of view, the problems they care about most, and whether you offer a better solution to those problems.

The operative word is value, from your client’s point of view, and there are three categories of value for your client. You can create new value, protect existing value, or restore value lost for clients.
A good value proposition quickly tells clients the problems you will solve for them, the leverage you will provide to make attaining their goals easier, and the benefits that will make their lives better.

Why create a  value proposition?

To clients, your value proposition is the value they conclude that they’re receiving in exchange for what they pay you. If they don’t conclude that they are receiving more value as a result of hiring you, they will opt to live with a problem or attempt to solve it in other ways.

Clients have needs and interests, none of which are the details of how you will use your legal expertise. When you can, convey precisely which factors or aspects of your service will solve which of their specific problems. That provides your prospects the information they need to decide whether your unique value proposition is of sufficient value to them.

Some people say that your value proposition is the most important piece of your overall marketing messaging. It’s a catalyst for transforming prospects into clients when it tells them why they should hire you, rather than another lawyer. It clearly conveys the benefits of working with you. The most important element is that it connects to the conversation about a problem or desire already happening in your prospect’s mind.

How to create your value proposition

Many value propositions are drenched in trite, meaningless, weak or ambiguous words.

An effective value proposition explains how your services address a specific need experienced by your ideal client.

A value proposition is also called a unique selling proposition because you transform a prospect into a client by using the language of the prospect, not the lawyer. The way you speak about your services to other lawyers or legal staff should differ from how your clients describe your services and how you describe services to them.

Creating your unique value proposition is a five-step process.

Step 1: Describe your ideal client or prospect. Is your client an individual or an entity? If an entity, who is the decision-maker? What does that person care about most? What makes the client or prospect ideal?

In a for-profit corporation, your clients care about creating or preserving value in the form of their profit or competitive advantage. They may also care about restoring value that they feel has been unfairly taken or not paid when due.

Individuals may care most about their family members’ health and well-being, what others think about them, or restoring value that they feel has unfairly been taken.

Nonprofit organizations care about creating value through fundraising and relevant acquisitions and actions, helping their stakeholders, and growing their members.

Step 2: Do you create value, maintain value, or restore value for your client?

Step 3: Describe the value in detail from the prospect’s point of view. What unique experience and value are you offering?

Step 4: What problems do your prospects have that keep them awake at night?

Step 5: For the problems you identify, which specific features of your service respond to each problem?

Step 6: Put this information together to write a short, easy-to-recall value proposition in the language of your client. Make it persuasive and distinguishable from competitors. What problems will you solve? What specific benefits will you deliver? Why are you better than the lawyer down the hall?

You may need to analyze your competition to discover where they fall short.  Their weaknesses are your opportunities to distinguish yourself.

There are three ways to differentiate yourself. You might describe the features of your service, its advantages or its benefits — how it meets a prospect’s needs. Research shows that benefits are the most persuasive way to describe solutions.

Your features are what you offer. Your benefits solve your prospect’s problems. Your advantage may be your price point or speed.

Start with one short sentence about the end-benefit of your legal services. Then, in two to three sentences, specifically explain those services and why they are useful. List three key features, advantages or benefits of your services with bullet points.

Conclusion

Your value proposition should be readable and understandable in less than 30 seconds. As long as you’re not trying to sell something that few people want to buy, or are trying to sell to someone who doesn’t have purchasing power, your value proposition will transform prospects into client and clients into brand advocates.

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Attorney Susan Letterman White works with lawyers and law firms to improve leadership, organizational and team performance, and marketing and business development. She is the principal consultant at Letterman White Consulting.

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