Qi3 – Quality, Insight, Integrity & Innovation - UNITING TECHNOLOGY & MARKETING

Qi3 Insight

The Wisdom of Mark Twain and the Value Proposition





By Robin Higgons

Mark Twain famously once wrote “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead”, and I am constantly reminded of this every time I write or review a Value Proposition. Most start life as a long, bloated attempt to capture all the benefits the company believes it has. The enthusiasm to capture all the good things is understandable, but usually results in the target readers losing the will to live before they are half way through.

There are three golden rules to a good Value Proposition – Brevity, Clarity, and Empathy. For Brevity, it should be less than 150 words. For Clarity, any knowledgeable lay-person should be able to read and get it immediately. Find a suitable outsider to test it on. And finally for Empathy, get inside the head of the reader. They have their own needs. Does your value proposition stop them in their tracks and make them think – that’s just what I need. Again, test it on an outsider who will be very challenging.

A good Value Proposition should ‘do what it says on the tin’ – tell the reader what value they will get from you. To get it right takes a lot of time. But then giving a sales or investment message that the target audience don’t understand will turn
them off, and severely damage the business. It is time well spent.

Voltaire, G K Chesterton, and the Quality of the Question





By Robin Higgons

I was working on a couple of client projects recently when I was reminded of a very relevant quotation by Voltaire – “Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.” We have just launched a new service called ‘Ask the Experts’, which provides a quick, authoritative answer to a single, key marketing question. The process had been well worked out and all seemed straightforward, till we came to working out the exact question with the client.

We quickly identified several potential questions, but which one should we use; which would provide greatest value; which would get to the heart of the matter? This brought to mind another quotation, this time by G. K. Chesterton – “It’s not that they can’t see the solution. They can’t see the problem.” Taking this idea to heart, we set about understanding the client’s problem, what they wanted to achieve, and what they needed to do with the answer. This was an interesting journey of discovery for the client and us.

The situation highlighted a couple of salient lessons which we have known instinctively for a long-time, but which hadn’t been highlighted so clearly before:

  • the relevance of the answer is determined by the quality of the question,
  • it is often valuable to spend as much time defining the question as it is to finding the answer.

I found it interesting that issues of society and life explored by the literary giants of the past still have relevance in today’s rapidly changing business environment. But then clarity of thinking is essential, whatever the circumstances.

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