Online value propositions is an interesting yet difficult area in the building products
space because online itself is still an unchartered territory for many Marketing Managers and the meaning of value is commoditised in a sense by marketers (everyone offers some sort of value in a confusing way) and the definition of proposition is unknown or difficult to communicate for some.
It’s just too hard for businesses to nail one that is easy to understand and is specific. One of the many reasons why it’s so difficult is because of the lack of SWOT analysis done by marketers on periodical basis to understand the changing landscape, customer and competitors.
So what is an Online Value Proposition?
Similar to your business USP(s) really. It’s your one, single differentiator to your competitors – something you can offer your customers/audience online that your competitors cannot. It defines the relevancy, value and unique differentiation that tells your audience why they should choose you over your competitors.
Your OVP should be the first thing any visitor should see when they visit your website.
Tip: Not all of your visitors enter your website via the homepage. Think about internal, deeper pages too.
What’s your one unique offering that allows your customers (Specifiers, Interior Designers, Engineers, Branch Managers etc) to do something that your competitors cannot do online? Think about that for a second.
Do you offer anything remotely unique online for your Specifier or distributor audience?
Tip: If you don’t offer anything unique then I’d advise you to re-think how you spend your marketing budget.
If you do then great – this is what you, marketing person, should be focusing on improving and ensuring you stay ahead of your competition. Take your eye off the ball and you could soon find you no longer have an online value proposition.
5 online value propositions to build your online marketing around:
1) Allowing specifiers to do a task online faster than a competitor
This is probably the most common online value proposition for many building product manufacturers. Providing Specifiers with easy to use calculators, sizing guides, coverage calculators and online pricing guides to allows Specifiers to do find out prices, stock quantities, lead times faster, quicker and easier regardless the time of the day.
2) Making it easier to identify the right product for the right application
Offering some sort of comprehensive online product selector which asks a series of questions before getting to the end results which would present the user with a single product or a range of products with slight variants specific for their requirements. This saves the user time and also eliminates or reduces the margin of error when specifying products for a specific job.
Tip: Product selector usage should also be measured using Google Analytics and can help you understand what products are most popular, least popular and what Specifiers are requesting/demanding. Your goal is to ensure that users successfully complete and do what they need to do 100% of the time. Fix any steps where users drop out of the process.
3) Making it easier to compare your products
If any marketer knew their Specifier audience then they’d know that an Architect doesn’t get paid for the time spent on researching new products.
For many, not all, research time is un-billable so if you could make it easier to compare your products without having to download every datasheet and then lay them side by side you’d be cutting the time spent researching and massively helping your Specifier audience.
Some brands offer hundreds of products all varying in colour, texture, dimensions, weights, specific metrics. Tying it in with OVP #2 you could put you in a stronger position than your competition.
4) Offering an instant support service
Allowing Specifiers to ask questions online instantly without having to be put on hold or wait for a rep to call back could prove to be good online value proposition. Again this kind of goes back to point #1. I’m talking here about live chats or 10 minute response times for all online queries.
Some companies I know have tried live chat services but failed once they’d found out you needed to have someone at the computer all the time. Doh!
I also found out recently that Schuh offer Skype chats with customer sales advisors – how neat is that? Instead of typing messages you can have an online face to face conversation with a rep to discuss anything you want about latest shoes, designs, trends, orders, deliveries, stock. Anything.
5) Offering a wealth of online educational content anywhere, anytime
“Stop trying to out do your competition, out teach them instead” said Jason Fried, author of Re-Work and founder of Basecamp.
I’ve wrote about producing educational content online before and I think this is the one online value proposition that connects how your brand is perceived offline to how it’s perceived online. All your offline material states “Technical experts in….”. Well online, you have the opportunity to prove it through the content you publish. You want that technical expertise to follow through regardless of where and how the Specifier is accessing your information (think mobile too).
You could be the only building products company that offers online CPD’s, recorded webinars, technical blog content, white papers, Q&A videos, podcasts and mobile apps usable on any device and have it accessible anytime and from anywhere. As long as your content educates, inspires and simplifies things for your audience.
Tip: The volume and diversity of content produced can help with increasing traffic from search engines, increase visibility online, help with social media engagement and improve the quality of conversions via your website.
In order to create or review your existing online value proposition you’ll need to ask yourself some pretty tough questions – ones which need to be reviewed often. I’d also recommend conducting some sort of online competitor audit and SWOT analysis to help you create or find your online value proposition:
1) Have the market conditions changed in the last 3 years? Including your competition and what they offer through the use of new technology?
2) Does your marketing team and sales team communicate the same message as your USP or OVP?
3) Does your Specifier audience still appreciate and recognise your online value proposition?
4) Are the demands of distributors changing with the ever need of real time information?
Hopefully you’ll have found this post useful in helping you to just start thinking about developing a online value proposition and one you can continue to market, improve and build upon.
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