The Organizational Strategist

January 26, 2010

The key to your introductions is a Unique Value Proposition


-Introduction-

Have you ever had a hard time understanding why a corporate project is happening? You may have wondered the following questions. What are the benefits? Why is it happening at this time? How come I have been asked to be involved? In another instance, you might be talking with someone new that you met at a party, as a part of a networking event, in an interview or even just chatting around the water cooler, and, after ten minutes of taking, you do not know what they actually do for your organization. That can be frustrating and awkward for everyone involved. Having a clear message to describe a project, goal, or even yourself can be very helpful for making a good impression, standing out, and articulating value. This is where having a unique value proposition can really help.

-About Unique Value Propositions-

Recently I was asked what I can give that no one else can give. I will admit that I was taken aback and did not respond well. Comparing myself with all of humanity’s capability and experience made me think that I did not have much to offer. I’m not arrogant enough to think that I can give something that no one else can give. However, that was probably not the true intent of the inquiry. Ideally, I would have described the unique value that I do offer without stating I am somehow better than everyone else.

What I could’ve brought up would be what I feel I do particularly well. Unfortunately, I find it hard to advertise for myself. I do believe in myself and am confident in my abilities. However, I try to think through my actions, words, and choices appropriately, respectfully, and truthfully. This can create a quandary in interviews, networking and other areas where a form of competition comes about. It’s especially true when an interviewer asks you what makes you the best candidate.

Before doing an informational interview with an alumnus while doing my MBA at Weatherhead, the term of UVP was unknown to me. UVP stands for Unique Value Proposition. It is a marketing term that is also known as Unique Selling Proposition (USP). It can be used for all sorts of scenarios. Project initiatives, job interviews, networking, investment pitches, stakeholder communications and more can all benefit from having one or more simple, concise, and powerful UVPs. Having multiple UVPs can help where there are different values to articulate. For example, it would be helpful for me to articulate what my UVP is as an organizational strategist, as a Web 2.0 practitioner and consultant, and as a Gen Y researcher. These three areas are interests of mine, but often create different conversational paths due to the varied topics.

-Creating a Unique Value Proposition-

Here are some simple steps and tips to creating an individual’s UVP. To create a UVP for a product, project, initiative or other method, a very similar process can be followed.

1) List who you want to talk with: this will help determine how many UVPs you will need and the directions you can take your UVP(s)

2) List descriptions of your strengths, unique experiences, and achievements: this will provide the meat of the value portion of your UVP

3) List the stakeholders from step #1: having this list helps identify if there are special circumstances or other nuances you need to address (Need help identifying stakeholders? Check out this earlier blog article)

4) Pick the best elements of what sets you apart: this should cover the What’s In It For Me (WIIFM) relating to the stakeholders you just identified

5) Combine it all into a short, pithy, and powerful sentence or phrase: this is where it all comes together in a concise, easy to understand sentence

Tips for UVPs:

– Value comes first. Make sure yours is clear. If there is no value to the proposition, it won’t matter how unique it is.

– Put your UVP into terms that your audience will understand. If it is too technical, has too many buzz words or simply does not make sense, it will not help. If you can articulate your UVP in the same way that they would, that’s marvelous.

– Practice it so that it becomes natural, adaptable, and flows into your elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a scalable introduction to a person, project or initiative. The UVP can be the tag line for your elevator pitch.

– Make your UVP interesting and short. These are not speeches, nor do they give all the details. Ideally, after someone hears your UVP, they would want to hear your full elevator pitch. That should lead into a rich discussion.

– For a longer description of UVPs and more details, you can search the web. There are a lot of articles on this and similar topics. Here are a couple of articles that I found to be more informative and helpful: Infomarketerzone article and Summit Insight blog post.

Example UVP:

“The combination of cutting edge tech, business, and OD degrees with Fortune 50 experience make me uniquely positioned to strategically and effectively lead Gen Y initiatives.” 

-Closing-

There are many uses for your unique value proposition. I have found them a good fit for managerial updates and suggested talking points for their teams, website content, email tag lines, and the all important topic of What’s In It For Me(WIIFM) for each stakeholder group. A UVP should resonate with sponsors, leaders, managers, and your specialist workers. Please comment to share your own UVPs and thoughts. Good luck with your efforts!

-Links-

Article that has tips for stakeholder mapping: https://whittblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/02/accelerating-your-strategic-projects-thru-whole-system-involvement/

Infomarketerzone article: http://www.infomarketerszone.com/public/182.cfm

Summit Insight blog post: http://www.summitinsight.com/blogviewd.asp?id=91

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4 Comments »

  1. Thanks so much for referring to my article! UVP’s are especially critical when you’re marketing to the US government…and I do help clients to work on theirs and to craft Capability Statements (another key art form in federal procurement, government contracting, subcontracting and teaming) around those.

    Comment by Judy Bradt — January 29, 2010 @ 5:42 pm

    • My pleasure Judy. The credit goes to you due to your writing prowess!

      Comment by Whit — January 30, 2010 @ 1:16 am

  2. I am yet to see the value of the UVP in action. It is sort of self masterbation in as much as it does not ever seem to grab the attention of the listener anyway and simpy gives the teller of the UVP a bit of a shield. I have never heard a UVP that I believed anyway. They are often so full of crap that misses the mark and actually generally turns clients off… If you need one then you are probably dead meat anyway…

    Just my 2 cents

    Comment by David Craker — February 9, 2010 @ 10:59 pm

    • Hi David,

      Thanks for reading and offering your 2 cents as you put it. As I see it, a UVP is meant to be an abbreviated introduction to get the listener’s attention. It, in itself, would be hard to believe because they are so concise. Once the listener engages the person who delivers the UVP, then the full elevator pitch or description can be given, which should make the original UVP more believable.

      To go on a bit with that reasoning, I’ll expand on my example UVP that I wrote above. Gen Y individuals, being very tech-savvy and integrated, will likely enjoy working in a virtual fashion or with technology in general. Since I have a computer science degree as well as experience using web 2.0 tools in IBM, Boeing, and more I am in a good place to associate and lead them in that regard. Plus, I’ve studied and researched Gen Y as a consultant and student, which would assist in making me well positioned to engage Gen Y colleagues. My own professional experience and education can help with the fundamental leadership and strategy elements that would help to ‘strategically and effectively lead Gen Y initiatives.’

      I hope that this helps explain my points more. I too have heard of outrageously sounding UVPs that have annoyed me because they seemed to be a gimmick to boost visibility and not feasible in the slightest. Of course everyone’s experiences will vary and coming up with a concise, believable, and strong UVP is difficult. If done in the right way, I bet that a UVP could be very helpful in starting a conversation, workshop, or other format for communication.

      Comment by Whit — February 9, 2010 @ 11:41 pm


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