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Customer Value Propositions in B2B Markets

Andrew Findlater from Reed Business Information recently turned us on to an excellent article in the Harvard Business Review (back in 2006 but still daisy-fresh):

Its called Customer Value Propositions in Business Markets and it makes a compelling case for what the authors (James C. Anderson, James A. Narus and Wouter van Rossum) call “Resonating Focus”.

The paper identifies three kinds of value proposition: the “All Benefits” approach (list everything good about your product); the “Favorable Points of Difference” approach (list everything that’s better than the next best alternative); and the “Resonating Focus” approach (focus on one or two points of difference whose improvement will deliver the greatest value to the customer).

Like a lot of good business writing, this article brings together common sense ideas that are really rather uncommonly practiced by B2B marketers.  It’s about the hard work of building credibility and about making sure you’re building it where it will make a real difference.  Our recent paper on the Hierarchy of Benefits touched on this (one of the reasons Andrew pointed us at the HBR article).

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