Preparing Your Company for an Online Presence
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Preparing Your Company for an Online Presence

A value proposition statement needs to be integrated throughout your company so that it is infused in the culture of all you do. Once created it must go on your email signature line, your Web site, your business cards, and in all of your marketing and promotional materials.

By Barbra Bannon, Consultant

A value proposition statement is the core message that you will use to communicate your specific value to your clients on a consistent basis. This statement needs to be integrated throughout your company so that it is infused in the culture of all you do. Once the statement is created and you are happy with it, it must go on your email signature line, your Web site, your business cards, and in all of your marketing and promotional materials.

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  • Why is the development of your value proposition important? The answer is easy. Your value proposition can equip you with the following benefits to your business:

    • Create a strong differential between you and your competitors
    • Increase not only the quantity but the quality of prospective leads
    • Gain market share in your targeted segments
    • Assist you in enhancing tools that will help you close more business
    • Improve your operational efficiency

    How a value proposition can create a strong differential between you and your competitors: Clients like to know they are working with professionals. If you are able to tell your client with confidence what you can do for them simply in two sentences, you look like a specialized expert who knows what they are doing and in turn, they can trust you to do it. Case studies, testimonials and a professional-looking brand all support the value proposition and competitive differentiation you need.

    Before launching a full-blown online presence on the vast and endless Web, you need to know where to target so you spend your efforts wisely. By developing specific content, programs and case studies for targeted segments, you will be much more effective in driving quality leads into your business from the Web.

    Let’s talk about how a value proposition will allow you to gain market share in your targeted segments. It is possible for a company to have multiple value propositions for different target markets they serve, and it’s critically important that you know who your best clients are to effectively craft a value proposition. The number one reason companies fail to grow is that they waste resources by spreading themselves too thin. If you have one or two key clients that make you the highest profit margins, then it is time to create a case study from them, interview them to serve their needs even better, and start customizing programs so that you can cookie cutter those programs to attract and serve similar clients. If you spend your time doing that and focus on providing quality work to a niche market, you will grow and be better in the long run. Just be sure that the market you are specializing in has future potential and isn’t in a downward spiral. (e.g. newspaper industry). If you remain serving everyone, even the bottom 10 percent of your client base that drains you and your staff of time and resources, your company will remain stagnant.

    To begin the development process of your value proposition it will help to see a great one. Here is an example of one of the best value propositions I have seen that belongs to a sales consultant:

    “Our clients grow their business, large or small, typically by a minimum of 30–50 percent over the previous year. They accomplish this without working 80-hour weeks and sacrificing their personal lives.”

    After reading this value proposition it leaves me curious, and wanting to know more. That is the power of this statement. It is clear what they can do for me and I want to know how immediately.

    A good example for a vehicle wrapping company would be:
    “We help our clients grow their businesses by allowing them to reach more than 30,000 potential clients daily while driving their wrapped cars. We save them thousands of dollars in billboard-leasing costs by creating rolling billboards out of their cars.”

    The questions below will help guide you in the creation of your own unique and powerful value proposition statement:

    1. List target clients and needs
    2. List unique capabilities that address client needs
    3. List target audience benefits
      • Emotional benefit (list two)
      • Functional benefit (list two)
    4. List reasons why these are benefits to the clients
    5. Competition: How do you provide this product and service better than your competitors?

    Now you can craft your value proposition with the following template:
    To, , is the brand of that . Because .

    Company Culture
    Now that you have your value proposition and you know what purpose your business serves in the marketplace, it’s time to make sure you are prepared to communicate that promise to your clients through the experience they have interacting with your company. How do clients interact with your company? What are the different touch points?

    Traditional touch points

    • Phone calls
    • Salespeople and staff
    • Advertisements in newspapers, TV, radio
    • Out of home advertising (billboards, etc.)
    • Yellow pages (obsolete)
    • Business cards
    • Brochures

    Non-traditional touch points

    • Web site
    • Blogging
    • YouTube videos
    • Online articles
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • LinkedIn
    • Car Wraps

    The value proposition/customer promise you developed in the last section will be used as a baseline for the development of a consistent client experience throughout all of these touch points in your business. Every interaction a potential client has with your business either proves or disproves that customer promise in their minds. When I speak of your “company culture” I am speaking to an ongoing exchange of communications and interactions your clients, vendors and employees experience and engage in on a daily basis. As the owner of your firm, you are leading the daily construction of this culture.

    List four adjectives describing what your company culture feels like to you:

    1. _______________________
    2. _______________________
    3. _______________________
    4. _______________________

    List four adjectives that you would like to hear a customer describe your company with during a conversation:

    1. _______________________
    2. _______________________
    3. _______________________
    4. _______________________

    If the two lists above are different, you may want to consider creating a company culture statement, which sets the values of a company and creates an outline for your vision of what you envision the company to be.

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    How does all of this matter to your online marketing presence?

    • The content you post online needs to offer a consistent, clear and relevant customer promise.
    • Your culture, systems and staff have to build trust with your target client market and customer base by delivering on that promise.
    • Your company will drive deeper into the target market and improve market share by continually improving on the promise.
    • Your company will then be able to seek further advantage by innovating beyond the familiar because of the specialized nature of your niche knowledge.

    Once you know your company culture, the style, content and brand has to reflect that culture. Look over your Web site, brochures, salespeople and other touch points listed above and ask yourself: “Are we communicating our culture?” I also recommend asking your staff, and other trusted friends once you have come up with a solid culture statement.

    Conversations That Will Grow Your Business
    Now you know who your best clients are, you have a solid value proposition and you have an idea of how you want to be seen in the marketplace through your culture statement. It is now time to start tweaking the conversations you and your staff have with your clients. Get on the phone and start gathering information from your best clients so you can one, improve your services, two, expand your business with them, and three, find more of them!

    Look over the simple questionnaire below and use it as a guide when you call. You don’t have to use all the questions, just relevant ones.

    1. Are you satisfied with our product/services?
      This is an honest conversation that can deepen the relationship with your client. It sounds like a scary conversation, but approach it as you want to be providing the best service/product to them and that is why you need to know.
    2. What qualities do you look for in a vendor? What do you like about working with us?
      Allow them to think for a minute without giving them suggestions
    3. What could we improve?
      This is the most beneficial information you ever could receive. Listen closely, take notes, and integrate the suggestions immediately with your team.
    4. What other products do you order on a regular basis that we might be able to help you with?
      This is your chance to expand your business with the customer. You could be supplying vehicle decals to them for years and never know they had retail display needs as well.
    5. Do you have any upcoming projects we could get you a quote for?
      This is being proactive with your clients needs. In a world where there is constant busyness it is appreciated, especially with corporate clients, when their vendors are on top of upcoming projects.
    6. As a where do you go to find resources like us? Online, trade shows, industry journals?
    7. Would you mind telling me which trade shows you attend or industry journals you read?
    8. What forums or blogs do you follow professionally? Do you belong to any online communities?

    The top questions help you improve your services and craft specialized solutions to their specific industry problems. From there, you craft packages and targeted content. The last few questions help you find more of them as well as assist you in knowing where the deployment of that content is online within the groups, forums and communities they frequent. You also should consider becoming an article writer in the journals and magazines they read. As a recognized industry expert , it boosts their trust in your company.

    Barbra Bannon is a leading industry expert on alternative brand promotions, and is an online marketing maven, a social entrepreneur, philosopher, writer and idea addict. She owns and operates Cranky Creative Group, an alternative brand promotions company that can brand any surface with graphics, such as vehicles, elevators and walls. bbannon@crankycreative.com

    This article appeared in the SGIA Journal, September / October 2011 Issue and is reprinted with permission. Copyright 2011 Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (www.sgia.org). All Rights Reserved.

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