Think about what information you choose to include on your resume when you’re job hunting. Anyone that cares about landing a new job understands the value of putting together a resume that accurately exhibits their qualifications and potential. While you want to include your experience, education and your critical skills and abilities, it is becoming more important than ever to find a way to distinguish yourself from your competition. The fact is, no matter how good your resume is, it is not going to get you noticed unless it somehow indicates that you are the best fit for the specific role you’re applying for. The exact same thing can be said for your company’s value proposition.
As conveyed by Dr. Curt Carlson in his award-winning book Innovation: Innovation; The Five Disciplines for creating what Customer Want, your value proposition is a strategically crafted statement that is definitive of your unique selling point. A truly great value proposition paints a clear picture of what your company has to offer for prospects. It tells your audience:
Perfecting your proposition is vital because it is the one thing that introduces you to your prospective buyers. It makes or breaks the impression you leave Writing a strong value proposition is a skill you can learn – and one of the best ways to learn is to look to others who have got it right in the past. To best describe a great value proposition, I like to use the example of the Heinz ‘upside-down ketchup bottle’.
Ketchup is probably one of the most famous and widely-used sauces around the world. Heinz sells over 11 billion single-serve packets, and over 650 million bottles every single year. Studies have predicted that as many as 96% of Americans always have ketchup in their fridges.
However, ketchup hasn’t always been this popular. Back in the late 90’s, sales were significantly lower. Leading ketchup producer Heinz decided they’d need to step in to reverse this trend. They started researching and analyzing all the problems that could potentially have led to reduced sales.
Surprisingly, their research concluded that the problem wasn’t with the ingredients. In fact, their main problem was that people were having trouble getting the sauce out of the bottle. They were getting frustrated with having to squeeze it hard, and in some cases even poke a knife inside it to get it out. It was this that led them to the idea of the famous upside-down ketchup bottle. Ketchup’s modern revolution began in 1991.
The location was a small precision-molding shop wedged between a scrapyard and a saloon on the south side of Midland, Michigan. The key prop was a molding press that was meant to turn injections of liquid silicone into flexible, one-piece precision valves. But it wasn’t working quite right. Paul Brown, the shop’s owner, spent countless hours sitting before the press on a chair, smoking cigarettes and rethinking the valve’s design, trying to come up with a better solution that would solve his problem.
His vision was a dispensing valve for a new kind of shampoo bottle that could be stored upside-down on the edge of the tub. The valve had to open easily when squeezed and shut securely when the squeezing stopped. There had to be absolutely no drips or leaks.
Eventually, he cracked it. A silicone dome valve with right-angled slits cut in its top. When the bottle’s sides were pressed, the dome’s slits opened like flower petals and released the contents. When the pressing stopped, the air sucked back into the dome caused it to retract and the slits to shut. In 1995, Brown sold his company. His invention earned him $13 million.
In my next article “Your Winning Value Proposition: The 4 Components”, we’re going to delve deeper into the 4 components of your winning value proposition.
To learn more about how to succeed when bringing innovation to market, you can check out my book, Built for Global, where I share what I’ve learned from decades of selling advanced technology to large companies all around the world.
Robert Pearlstein has 25 years experience working with Silicon Valley companies to sell advanced technology to global companies. He currently works as Vice President for Global Business Development as part of SRI (Stanford Research Institute) one of the largest independent research and development in the United States.