Core Values or Value Proposition?

Value Prop

Much to my surprise, I recently disagreed with the excellent Babette Ten Haken.  The question she posed was “Are you a Value Proposition Chameleon?

What’s your immediate response to that question?

Mine was to say (to myself!) “Why yes, Babette, I am.  My value proposition will change from customer to customer, in line with what they perceive to be of value.”

As the saying goes, ‘One man’s meat is another man’s poison’.  I want to be sure I’m feeding the right thing to my prospective customer!

Ms Ten Haken’s blog post went on to say:

Your value proposition is part and parcel of who you are as a person of worth, representing your specific brand of product/service/platform.

Your value proposition is the tangible deliverable that your customers receive from having made the wise choice of doing business with you.

I would contend that these two sentences are actually describing different things.

Core Values

To me, the first sentence describes core values.  The core values of a company guide that company’s  internal conduct as well as it’s relationship with the external world.  You’ll often see them incorporated into a mission statement.

Arrosam doesn’t have a formal mission statement but we sure do have core values – honesty, transparency, integrity, holistic, mutual benefit are just some of them.  We will stay true to our core values whoever we deal with.

Value Proposition

However, when it comes to our value proposition, that will change from customer to customer and even from project to project for the same customer. Why?

The clearest definition I’ve seen for a value proposition comes from Business Dictionary and states:

An analysis or statement of the combination of goods and services offered by a company to its customers in exchange for payment.

Clearly, the value proposition will depend on what you want to achieve as the outcome, not solely on what we want to achieve.  There’s no point in us waxing lyrical about how many new customers we can find if you are looking to increase the lifetime value of your existing customers. The value proposition for one would be very different from that for the other even though the outcome for both is more orders for you.

It might seem a little pernickety to outline the difference between core values and value propositions.  If you don’t distinguish between the two you run the risk of being seen as too much “me, me, me” and not enough “you, you, you”.  One wins you business, the other doesn’t.

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