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Articulating Value in a Competitive Marketplace

Posted on  | April 12, 2012   Bookmark and Share
Written by | Ian Griffith

There was a time when moving online for a wine store would lead to a lift in business based solely on the strength of the store’s inventory and pricing. However the online wine marketplace has been an increasingly competitive space for several years now. These days few stores are satisfied with the incremental sales that come with little effort. Stores are learning the discipline of sending regular email campaigns, they are being featured on wine directories, they write blog post, and chat on social media.

Stores are also investing in online advertising of various forms. The goal, somewhat obviously, is to find a source of traffic that doesn’t cost more than your margin on the products you sell. Even if the outcome is a break-even proposition you are picking up new customers who have demonstrated their willingness to spend money on your website. The real ROI on this activity comes once they have placed a second order, which underscores the importance of a high impact email marketing campaign.

Stores are competing for traffic, but the more profitable stores are also working to differentiate themselves with a clear message about why their store is the best choice. Done well this attracts customers who are a good fit and increases the ROI from online advertising. It takes a disciplined marketer to focus on the sales path from initial message to landing page and on through the shopping cart. One such marketer is Dr. Flint McGlaughlin of Marketing Experiments who conducts systematic research into what works. To summarize his findings; basically you need to nail your “value proposition”.

Your “value proposition” includes the key selling points that you must make to your potential customers, that is: why your product is different and better, and why you are the best store to buy it from. A strong and compelling value proposition must match your competitors on the important selling points and exceed them on at least one important factor.

A few years ago Marketing Experiments conducted a competition offering $100,000 for the best value proposition that could fit on the back of a napkin. With over 400 submissions, there were very few effective value propositions. The good news is that your competitors probably don’t have one either, so developing a strong value proposition will give you a big advantage.

The highest performing landing pages do really well at matching the motivation of your ideal prospects and then clearly state the value proposition. Your prospects’ motivations will be different depending on how they hear about your promotion, so you need to target your message based on the source of the traffic. Email recipients already have opted in to receive promotions from your store so will weigh recommendation based on previous experience. This is very different from new traffic that comes from online ads where the prospect may not already know your store.

In this competitive marketplace a store’s online presence is no longer a separate operation but is an integral part of the stores marketing and operations. Doing a good job of optimizing the sales path with a clearly articulated value proposition is about more than improving your web sales. These are insights that will lift your whole business.

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