You have two choices. Carry on as you were or pivot.
In a Lean sense to pivot means to change a core part of your idea, usually either the customer segment or the problem you are trying to solve. Doing this helps you get closer to finding a core value proposition, or USP, that has a chance of meeting a genuine un- or poorly – met need.
This situation is what sixteen25 faced in January 2013. Only two months earlier the Department for Health had announced the MindEd project to create a mental health learning resource for non-mental health professionals.
And Well Informed’s remit was to create a mental health learning resource for non-mental health professionals.
So Why Bother?
At this point you might wonder why sixteen25 would bother creating a product to compete with such a heavily funded initiative like MindEd?
However, the team took the view that MindEd couldn’t meet every possible need and that its existence made it even more important to establish the most pressing and painful needs of non-mental health professionals, identify which ones MindEd was unlikely to meet and then to develop a value proposition that met that need and distinguished Well Informed from its competitor.
What is a Value Proposition?
Distinguishing value proposition, aka Unique Selling Point, aka distinguishing benefit, aka differentiated value proposition. These terms effectively all mean the same thing:
A succinct, powerful statement that explains your product’s value in a way that differentiates it from other products on the market.
If the statement is really good then it should also provide insight into how to effectively market your product.
The Well Informed value proposition is: Well Informed helps non-mental health professionals who have a pressing concern about a young person’s mental health to get the information they need to deal with it as quickly as possible.
You’ll notice that this statement clearly describes Well Informed’s target market, the problem it addresses and how it addresses it. It’s also a very different proposition to that of MindEd, a product that helps non-mental health professionals build understanding of young people’s mental health issues through eLearning and tutorials.
How To Create A Value Proposition
Reading the two value proposition’s side by side it’s quite easy to see how they differ. However, getting to this degree of clarity is rarely an easy case, even when you don’t have a competitor to contend with. It requires the following:
1. Define the problem
Spend time understanding and learning if it’s a problem actually worth solving. This can mean challenging some of your assumptions about the nature of the problem and those affected.
2. Evaluate whether your solution is unique and compelling
Is it being done elsewhere? What evidence do you have that it could work? What early testing or validation processes have you undertaken?
3. Measure potential adoption
Could your solution be usable? Will it fit easily enough into users’ existing life or work style? Will it deliver enough value that its worth their effort to adopt?
4. Build the Value Proposition
While there are many ways of writing your value proposition here’s one very simple, and adaptable, way:
- For (target customers)
- Who are dissatisfied with (the current alternative)
- Our product is a (new product)
- That provides (key problem-solving capability)
- Unlike (the product alternative)
Be confident enough to adapt this format to your product.
A ‘Full Build’ Well Informed Value Proposition
If you applied this format to Well Informed you would get something like:
Well Informed is for non-mental health professionals who are concerned about a young person’s mental health but are not able to get quick or targeted enough information from elsewhere on the web e.g. MindEd. Well Informed is a new product that provides the 5 essential things you need to know about common mental health issues experienced by young people, in a format that is very easy to find and quick to digest. This is unlike MindEd where several clicks are required to find the right content and the information takes longer to assimilate and digest.
What’s interesting about this fuller value proposition is that it takes existing content and presents it in a way that is designed to meet the particular needs of a segment of the potential target audience. This may sound easy but in reality to get to this point of clarity is usually a process of building a first version of the value proposition and then iterating it as you try out solutions, measure their effectiveness and learn from the results. You will effectively be cycling back through the four stages each time.
Value propositions are not fixed; while they should be clear and guide you from your project’s core they also need to be allowed to grow in line with your learning and customer understanding.
Has Well Informed’s Value Proposition Worked?
Its early days but user testing on Well Informed and MindEd supports the proposition that Well Informed is quicker and easier to find relevant information on. The team has a strong marketing plan and incredibly good networks that should help the site reach the people who need it.
We’ll let you know how its going for them in a few months.