Writing value propositions that sell

THE most common question that a prospective association member asks is: “What value do I get from being a member?” From the perspective of the association, it is about planning, developing, organizing, and communicating its value proposition.

Since value proposition is a key component of an association’s business model, the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives (PCAAE) conducted recently a webinar on “How to Write Value Propositions that Sell.” The speaker was Dr. Michael Tatonetti, founder and CEO of Atlanta, a US-based Pricing for Associations whose mission is to advance associations in their pricing models for financial sustainability.

Michael presented a five-step process that your team needs when deciding what to do with the product and its pricing, and how to sell the value to your board.

Step 1: Define the value you give internally. This would be both quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative value propositions are based on a numerical ROI that you can document and deliver upon, e.g., an exhibition guaranteeing that attendees will meet 50 exhibitors or a leadership program that provides three skills to participants. Qualitative value propositions are based on things that cannot be quantified, e.g., a networking event that builds business relationships or a professional development program that advances your career.

Step 2: Discover more value externally. This could be done via attendee market research and sponsor market research. For an attendee market research, methods you can use include surveys, focus groups, and phone calls with key leaders. Ask them what is important for them and how they value it. At the end of each encounter, quantify the value and don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. In short, you have to sell the value well.

For a sponsor market research, methods may include phone calls and meetings with potential sponsors. Ask what they value most and why until you get to the heart of it. If the sponsor’s goal is to gather at least 50 leads, then be ready to respond or negotiate. In short, this is B2B sale so you need to quantify the value.

Step 3: Write your value proposition. Using a virtual event as an example, you may write the following value proposition to attendees: “Unlike our live event, you can access every single session live and on demand so you do not have to rush between sessions and make split-second decisions.” or “Attendees will have access to all 40 sessions—a 250 percent increase in training and knowledge!”

For sponsors: “No need to put in sweat-equity assembling booths. We will set up your landing page with a demo-scheduling tool so we bring leads right to you!” or “We’re proud to grow from 500 attendees on-site, 50 of which might be great leads, to over 2,000 registrants, quadrupling your pool of lead sources.”

Step 4: Measure the value for pricing. This can be achieved by understanding your segments and doing a final market test with the price and value propositions to ensure your marketing and sales are ready before launch.

Step 5: Communicate and sell. This can be made through sales pages, emails and content marketing. Some tips: share an evolving story, e.g., “We heard you…”; highlight your qualitative and quantitative values; think through your FAQs; have a video demo or beta testimonials for buy-in.

Octavio Peralta is currently the executive director of the UN Global Compact Network Philippines and founder and volunteer CEO of the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives, the “association of associations.” E-mail: bobby@pcaae.org.