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March 2010

Emails That "Work"

Email HackImage by Ross Mayfield via Flickr

Every morning when I open my email I'm faced with 100 requests for my time. Here are a few that came in this morning:

"Don't Miss Today's Webinar"

"Join Our Webinar"

"Webinar Invitation"

"Join Our Call"

"Webinar Reminder"

An email from someone that claims: "We are able to assist you throughout the life of your existing corporation" (huh?)

A "meeting invitation" from someone who thinks they've "earned a few minutes of my time" and who wants me to "request a call" (say what)

After ignoring all of the above, the only emails I opened were from:

1. People I directly work with
2. NY Times
3. Seth Godin

Lessons learned:

1. Sell ideas not webinars
2. Everyone is using the same language, need to differentitate
3. Few authors are focusing on the customer benefit
4. Working through credible others/opinion leaders works
5. Email marketing has a way to go

See my library of email openings/copy here.

B to B Value Proposition Development

Coins and banknotes, two of the most common ph...Image via Wikipedia

There seems to be very little written regarding how to write a B tot B value proposition.  It appears that while consumer marketers have a broad range of behavioral levers, B to B marketers are left to the basics.  Value proposition development in business is essential as it defines for the organization the best way to articulate the company's point of difference to prospects and customers. 

Once developed, the value proposition should be repeatedly shared with and described to employees so that everyone in the organization knows why you are in business and why others should care.

Here's some general business value proposition starters :

We help you (the company and the employee0

- Make more money (cost savings, ROI, accelerate growth)
- Save time (productivity, efficiency, staff manpower reduction)
- Improve process (workflow improvement, streamline, speed, lead time reduction, turnaround, quality)
- Eliminate problems (impact)
- Achieve objectives
- Do something better than existing or competitive solutions in the market
- Change (with the company, scale, flexibility, long term prospects)

After the promise, companies try and offer some type of reason to believe the promise can be delivered.  These include:

- Reduced implementation risk (proven, consistent with market trends)
- Fast Total Cost of Ownership (another way to say that the solution will quickly generate a return on the investment of time and $)
- Expertise (we are the leader, innovator, greatest share size, more companies are customers, largest)
- Service (24/7, top Net Promoter Score, provide training)

After the benefit and reason to believe, many statements of business value indicate both functional and emotional points of difference.  Functional difference has to do with how does your product work differently than others (eg; proprietary technology, more features, less energy, green) and emotional difference (how do you feel when you use the service, and how will you appear to others).  While emotional benefits aren't always explicit, if early adopters can distinguish themselves through the product, it is never a bad thing.

For example, if someone adopts a solution before everyone else on a sales floor, and then there performance demonstrable improves, they will look and feel smarter, more confident etc.

Business value propositions also are helped by some type of metric and promised improvement in business results.

Target + Promised Results (% gain in sales etc.) + how those results will be achieved (larger orders, more customers) and from where (online, new vertical etc.) and in how long (days, months, years).

In terms of structure, I find this to be helpful:

Has These Core Needs
And Uses These Types of Products To Achieve This
Our Product Will Do This Better Because of
These Functional Benefits
And Will Make the User/Decision Maker Feel That They
Are Using The Best Product/Service
And Appear How to Others When Using It
This is a Long Term Solution Because of This

More on business value proposition development can be found here.

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