Don Draper of Mad Men is often cited to be based on Rosser Reeves – creative director and later head of the Ted Bates agency. In 1961, Reeves introduced the concept of the Unique Value Proposition. 1961. And today, almost 50 years later, many marketing people still treat the UVP as the be-all and end-all of their craft.

I’ve previously blogged on how the concept of the UVP is outmoded, and needs revisiting especially in a B2B environment. But I use the term myself – as Umbrella Value Proposition. An Umbrella statement is a generic one – which you expand upon in a very specific way, depending on your audience. Let me repeat: Depending on your audience.

Value is subjective. Every customer is (or thinks they are) unique. To start with a Unique Value is putting your abilities ahead of customer needs. And while that may be how products and services are often designed, it isn’t how they are effectively sold.

In a B2B world, research shows that the first thing that customers look for is experience in their type of business. To them, it is an early indicator that you might actually understand their unique challenges. An effective UVP then needs to be able to be sub-divided by sector, the second you trot it out. Start generic and you’re already battling uphill.

For this reason, I recommend working backwards to develop an Umbrella. Figure out what’s important in what you do to the healthcare, energy and aerospace customers you serve. Individually – not en masse. Then see if there are common touchpoints which unite these sector value statements. And if there aren’t, don’t force it. An Umbrella Value Position is handy, but sector value statements are critical. Don’t sacrifice what really is unique because it makes for easy copy and taglines.

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