SELLING THE VALUE PROPOSITION
by Carol Stratford
Competition is stiff. We know from the latest ISPA U.S. Spa Industry Study that there are more than 22,000 spas in the United States alone. Consumers have more than enough properties, product lines and resources to choose from—so why should they choose yours?
A good marketer must take a step back every now and again and evaluate his or her brand from a new customer’s perspective. The ones that ignore this step will miss out on big opportunities to attract potential clients. I encourage you to take this opportunity to take your team through a much-needed checkpoint. First, identify what sets you apart from the competition. Then, set out to impactfully communicate this to current customers, potential customers and staff through your value proposition.
A value proposition is a statement of how your product or service will benefit your customer. It clearly defines what you will do for your ideal customer and why you’re better than your competitors. Your complete value proposition will identify who your main customers are, what they need, your unique benefit and your competitive advantage. What do you think your value proposition is?
Evaluate and Evolve
If you don’t know your value proposition, evaluate the four areas mentioned above and pay particular attention to your customers’ needs. What is your product or service able to provide that will fulfill those needs? Once you determine that, you drive that focus home in every way possible. For example: if your value proposition is to be the most innovative wellness retreat in the country, you will be focused on creating programming that’s innovative, you will align what you are offering to guests, and your marketing and messaging will speak exactly to that point.
Now that you’ve evaluated your value proposition, if you need to make some tweaks, gather your leadership team and do it. But don’t just communicate change without actually doing it. This isn’t a time to worry about cost. The change alone will drive revenue.
Once you’ve stated your value proposition, you don’t have to keep it forever. As a matter of fact, you should go through the steps again as a refresh every so often. When I was the Vice President of Marketing and Revenue Management at Miraval Resort & Spa, I created a brand book that took all messaging and branding back to the essence of Miraval—who we were at the core of our business. It was my way of evaluating: are we all saying the same things? Who is our audience? Is this what we are offering? It was this internal evaluation with the team that lead me to go back to the tagline “Life in Balance.”
Hutchinson Consulting recently partnered together with Charter Senior Living and LifeCenters Communities to break ground on Wellpoint at Hampton Cove in Huntsville, Alabama. Wellpoint at Hampton Cove will blend senior living, integrative health and wellness, coworking and a hotel into a new formula for intergenerational living. The first phase, the senior living center, will open in May 2020. The unique selling points of this facility are the wellness programming, community life, innovation center, freedom of choice, living in place and evidence-based research. These were distilled down to our key message, which would be similar to an elevator pitch. It is: “Wellpoint celebrates healthy living through a revolutionary concept that combines innovative wellness, learning, meaningful engagement with the wider community, new technology and most importantly, the freedom to choose.”
You may not need six value propositions in your road map; you may only need two or three. But remember, you can’t just say these things, they must be true.
When helping other companies, I specifically zero in on your business’s website, because that’s going to be the first impression of your brand for most potential clients, and it should communicate exactly what you do. You have between five to 30 seconds to hold the attention of a viewer on a landing page. When your audience is viewing your homepage, they should understand the answers to these questions:
1. What is the company selling?
2. What is the benefit of using it?
3. What makes the offering different from competitors?
Companies get this wrong when their website highlights their name or logo more than the message of what the potential customer is getting from them. Remember: why should they choose you? The headline is the most important part of your value proposition. Eye-tracking studies have shown that people often look at the headline more than anything else. Use your headline to give a quick statement summing up the benefit of your offer.
This is where your reservation staff and front desk team also come in—they are often the forgotten front line of the sales process. If employees don’t know what makes you unique, how will they communicate it when someone calls to ask questions? You can develop scripts for the team so that they are all driving home the same unique selling points, even within the first words they say to a guest. For example: “Thank you for calling Miraval, the number one wellness retreat in the nation.”
From there, they can use open-ended questions to further determine what unique selling points the guest will want to know about. Asking, “What do you hope to accomplish while visiting our wellness retreat?” opens the door to help them share all the other amenities and offerings the guest might not know about.
Knowing what makes your business unique is half the battle. Clearly telling the world is the other half. Confirm your value proposition and make the necessary shifts. These types of simple changes can make a big impact on your bottom line.
Carol Stratford is a partner at Hutchinson Consulting, where she consults with spas to help uncover value propositions and marketing opportunities. She previously held marketing leadership roles with Green Mountain at Fox Run, Marriott and Miraval Resort & Spa, among others.