To attract the right clients, high performers put a lot of thought into the Right Value Proposition. In communicating their Value Proposition, the starting point is understanding how people make decisions. 

In our Business Builder Playbook program, we frequently share the description of how people make four basic types of purchases: 

  • Interest
  • Grudge
  • Vitamin
  • Painkiller

Interest purchases refer to hobby-related items; things of interest to potential clients. Take someone who loves cars and happily spends big on tires. She may favor specialty tires and take great joy in her purchase. She doesn’t need to be sold on the idea of buying tires, whereas this is a grudge purchase for most of us.

I first learned about grudge purchases while sitting on a plane next to a fellow who sold tires for living. He explained how few people get excited about buying tires. Most see buying tires as a burdensome part of car ownership. 

My plane mate explained how tire industry research showed that most of us buy the tires our mechanic recommends and few of us know what brand of tires is on our car. With this insight, tire manufacturers began focusing on getting mechanics to love their tires.

The following types of purchases, I learned from my friend and mentor Scott Hilton-Clarke. Scott happens to be one the most savvy business minds in the Caribbean. He explained vitamin purchases. Vitamins benefit us in the future. When faced with choosing between short-term and the long-term gains, most people go for the short-term.

For example, do I eat the chocolate now to enjoy immediate satisfaction or do I eat the carrot for its promise of long-term gain? Do I meet friends for drinks after work or do I hit the gym? The simple fact is that vitamins are a hard sell.

The final type of purchase is the painkiller buy. Painkillers meet a need or solve a problem, and they do so immediately. Of the four purchase types, painkillers and interests are easiest to sell. This raises the obvious question, what do you do when most people think of your product or service as a grudge or vitamin purchase? You must reframe the purchase in the mind of the buyer. You do this with your value proposition. 

Your value proposition drives everything. It’s why your prospective client will take time out of his or her day to meet with you. Returning to the example of tires, the salesman told me the new realization only took them so far. They also needed to get mechanics to believe in their tires so they would recommend them to shop customers. The newly-formulated Goodyear slogan, Safety Together, was, he explained, how they began to reframe tires in the minds of mechanics. The new focus on safety in their marketing campaigns got both mechanics and their customers to think about safety and the value that safe tires bring them. 

A good value proposition reframes your product in the mind of the buyer. Our typical client is in Financial Services. If someone asks you what you do, and you say, “I sell insurance,” you’re dead in the water. If, however, you say, “I help professionals prepare for the expected and the unexpected,” you create interest. 

Your value proposition is the promise you make to your clients. A successful proposition changes how prospective clients view your products and services. With the right value proposition, you move people from seeing your product or service as a grudge or vitamin purchase to understanding your good or service as either an interest or painkiller purchase. The words you use make all the difference.

In our experience, entrepreneurs who spend the time to develop their value proposition make more money, have more quality time, enjoy what they do, and attract clients where others pursue them. Taking the time to clarify your value proposition can make all the difference in the world.