team using sticky notes to brainstorm | better value proposition

Need a Better Value Proposition? Start with Sex or Tylenol

Go to any networking event, and you’ll meet at least one person whose company desperately needs a better value proposition. In fact, they need my friend Josh’s sex or Tylenol method of clearly articulating what they do.

Josh left behind the CMO life to help technology startup companies create better pitches for investors. His work with companies typically starts with the value proposition. Since he’s so successful he can barely keep up with demand, I asked him about his method. He said:

A better value proposition starts with sex or Tylenol

Josh explained that many companies he meets think they’re the solution for everything and everyone. Think of every big company you know, and name three things they do well.

That’s a trick question.

They all do one thing well.

Google rules search.

Amazon excels at retail.

Apple creates beautiful personal devices.

Volvo builds cars.

Mondavi makes wine.

Hilton runs hotels.

Business owners tend to get overly excited about their product or service. “Ooh, besides this one thing, we can do this and this and this,” they think.

When they try to explain what they do, they get stuck. “Sure, maybe there are other uses for your product,” Josh tells them. “But people aren’t calling you about those things. They are calling you about this one thing.”

And that’s when he teaches them about how to write a better value proposition.

You are either selling sex (entertainment in some form) or Tylenol (relief from a major source of pain).

If you’re selling Tylenol, you say, “Here’s the problem our customers have, and here’s how we solve it.”

If you’re selling sex, people not only know what you’re selling, they want it and are willing to spend their disposable income on it. So you say, “Here are the benefits of buying from us or the attributes of what we offer.”

Believe it or not, Josh told me that it’s harder to sell sex than Tylenol. “Problems are easier to explain than, say, the attributes of a boutique hotel. You need to experience the hotel to understand it.”

So, are you sex or Tylenol? Who needs what you’re selling? If you want a better value proposition, use those two questions as your guide.

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