3 QUESTIONS TO DESIGN A SOCIAL VALUE PROPOSITION THAT TRULY MAKES A DIFFERENCE

This article was written by Danielle Sutton and originally posted on The Sedge blog here.

As a social entrepreneur, you have a drive and passion to help others through your services and solutions. That enthusiasm, however, doesn’t always translate into a social value proposition that will truly make a difference for your customers or beneficiaries.

It’s not uncommon for social entrepreneurs to struggle when it comes to developing their big changemaking offer, and there can be a host of reasons why. It could be that you have too many products fighting for attention, or maybe the products you do have do not provide the highest-impact solutions to meet your target market’s pain points.

Before we go further, let’s take a moment to define what a social value proposition is. A social value proposition is simply a fancy way of describing the benefit that your product or service offering has to your target audience. It answers the hidden questions that every potential customer is subconsciously asking when learning about your products and services: “So what?” and “What’s in it for me?”

There are multiple ways to deliver value and provide meaningful benefits to your customers; in Strategyzer’s famous Value Proposition Canvas (which is the heart of the Business Model Canvas), an amazing offering provides a combination of:

  • Reduction of ‘pain’ points that cause frustration or discomfort
  • Creation of ‘gains’ or positive improvements that the customer is seeking
  • Accomplishment of important ‘jobs’ or roles in the customer’s life

Whether your offerings have failed to create the social value and impact that you’d hoped for, or you’re still struggling through the ideation stage to figure out just exactly what your offer is, asking yourself the following questions can help you create solutions that truly connect.

These three key questions will help you break through the roadblocks and create the ideal solutions that your customers will clamor for.

Question 1:
Are my offerings truly serving my ideal customer?

If you aren’t 100% clear on your ideal customer profile, then you may have a hard time developing an ideal single solution for them. Know your customer: who they are, what they want, and what’s standing in their way. This is how you build the perfect solution for them.

In the initial phases of developing your business, it’s natural to let your creativity take over and explore all the possible solutions there could ever be. However, if you have been in business for a little while now, it’s time to drill down on that single major problem that your customer is looking to solve.

Another reason you may not be as committed to one ideal customer could be due to a fear of missing sales. This fear might prompt you to create multiple target audiences and offer multiple solutions that leave you bogged down in product development as you try to be all things to all customers.

The remedy is to put your ideal customer first.

When you keep your ideal customer in mind throughout your product development journey, you increase your chances of grabbing their attention and winning their business.

This doesn’t mean your business won’t grow and expand its audience and products in the future. It just means you’ll find more success initially when you focus on that single target customer, commit fully to understanding their pain points, and stay laser-focused on creating a single amazing solution just for them.

Additionally, having a multitude of products that speak to a multitude of profiles not only means you risk diluting your brand, but you also double or triple your efforts when it comes to networking, relationship building, communication, and outreach. That can be a huge investment in time and resources and brand risk at the beginning of your business journey.

Stay laser-focused on doing one thing well, in service to your ideal customer, and you’ll be on the right path to creating offerings that resonate with them time and again.

Question 2:
How do my service offerings fit along the ideal customer journey?

At this point, we’ve determined that you truly understand your ideal customer and have been building offerings accordingly. Now this question determines whether those offers provide your customer with a clear path they can follow on their journey with you.

Knowing your customer inside out allows you to understand their path of growth and development.

Do you have a welcome offer that helps introduce you and your services to your target audience? Maybe that intro requires a smaller investment of time, money, or effort, to help them get to know you early on in the relationship. Offering them a small, no-risk, high-value solution early on helps build trust and confidence around you and your offering. It establishes you as the go-to guide.

Once you have engaged your customer early on, then you can go on to offer them a more in-depth solution that matches their growth and development needs for the next stage in their journey. If you can anticipate these needs and offer your customers the right solutions at the right time, then you become a trusted advisor they will look to for guidance every step of the way.

Make the ideal customer path clear and easy to follow.

Be sure to have a roadmap that shows where your customer starts, the routes and solutions she can take, and what success looks like at the end.

This roadmap is a great tool for both of you. Your customer knows where they are going and what to expect and you know where your customers are heading and can be prepared to meet them with the right timed solutions along the way.

You’ll always be meeting your ideal customer’s needs if you stay focused on their business development and evolve your product suite to keep in step with their journey.

Question 3:
Am I doing too many things?

Think back to the beginning of your business. You were probably in an exciting and creative phase with no shortage of ideas. You could likely envision multiple solutions for a variety of customer problems and profiles. You anticipated partnerships and collaborations, could see the potential in all things, and you were excited to help your ideal customers with all of the offerings you were developing.

Now that the dust (and excitement) has settled, do you have a signature offering that serves your target audience by solving their most pressing problem?

While an abundance of ideas is a good thing initially, it can also be a sign of not truly knowing your customer and therefore not knowing which services to create.

Too many offerings can also distract you from building a social value proposition that is ‘referable’. Becoming ‘referable’ means that other people know exactly what you do, who you do it for, and when to send potential customers your way.

It’s okay to still be in the initial phase of ideation where you need time to experiment with different offers and see what connects with your customers. But at a certain point, you need to ask yourself if you are truly developing your stand-out offering or simply procrastinating.

It could also be that you are coming up with too many products to avoid making a choice and committing to one single thing. Because, ‘what if it fails?!’, right?

It might feel a bit uncomfortable to put all your eggs in one basket, but if you truly know your customer, and the type of value YOU and your team are most capable and passionate to deliver on, then you’ll know what to focus on. These filters will help you filter out all the other possible solutions you’ve been toying with that are spreading you too thin.

Stay focused on offering a single or simplified product suite to ensure you’re busy with the right kind of work. The kind that will resonate with your customer base and get them amazing transformation.

I encourage you to ask these three questions any time you find yourself stuck to design and deliver on a memorable and impactful social value offering.

They will help you focus on what’s important by sticking to customer-centric solutions, growing your product suite alongside the customer journey, and narrowing your scope to focus on fewer offerings (that you can do better).

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