Value Proposition Is a Growth Process
For any organization, the value proposition is the fundamental building block of growth. Understanding the process of managing your value proposition is vital, but challenging – especially for non-profits.
For many non-profits, the concept of growth is complicated by the fact that your members are your customers and they are also your owners. This reality can hinder the discipline and dim the clarity needed to build strong, resilient value propositions. Personal agendas, passionate advocates, and what I call “last-year-itis” are frequent culprits.
At best, the sign of this roadblock can be a well-intended, intuitive guess, sounding something like “I like this and benefit from it, so everyone else must too.” At worst, non-profits can be moved to try to focus a value proposition by consensus, which ends up having the unintended consequence of stymieing their growth.
Developing discipline around managing your value proposition is the single best investment any non-profit can make in its future.
The do's and don'ts of a value proposition process
Built over eight years of consulting to association boards and executives, here is my list of top value proposition do’s and don’ts.
- Centre it on the voice of the member: Find a dispassionate method for measuring the voice of your members. From custom research to marketing analytics, there is an approach for every budget.
- Analyze data and revenue: Take a critical look at your membership performance and revenue trends and patterns. Money talks and these numbers must be analyzed for insights.
- Embrace your competitive position: Everyone is fighting for your audience’s attention. Who could steal precious seconds of your members’ time, and what are those organizations doing well? Be honest and clear – and learn.
- Make it regular: Find the frequency of checking in that’s right for your organization. The greater your ambition and upside (and downside), the more frequently you should check the pulse of these indicators. From quarterly to biannually, our clients run the gamut, but it must be regular and it must be a standard management process.
- Get outside help: If your team is too busy running your daily race, get some help. You may need certain marketing, analytical or facilitation support to keep the process honest and avoid staff’s naturally occurring biases.
- Make it a “blue sky” event. This sounds fun and innovative, but not when it comes to your value proposition. Honest, disciplined analysis is the best investment of your time and resources for your future resilience.
- Embrace “last-year-itis. Sometimes this sounds like “we tried that.” The right idea needs the right time and the right execution, so keep a list and revisit it in light of a new year and new times.
- Ignore the elephant in the room. Many times we work with clients who – to us – seem to know there’s something holding them back, but it feels like an untouchable conversation. In my experience these “elephants” do actually hold organizations back and need to be tackled.
A value proposition is a vital internal statement of an organization’s worth in its marketplace of services and influence. It clarifies the organization’s reason for being and helps it to say “no” as well as “yes” to programs and services. Associations that treat it as an ongoing, evolving process succeed.