Last week I gave a speech to a room full of television producers who were tired of being the best-kept secret in Hollywood and wanted to step into the spotlight and become legendary brands like Jerry Bruckheimer, Tina Fey, Larry David, and JJ Abrams. During the Q&A, someone asked me, “Shouldn’t my work speak for itself?” I just had to laugh.
Look, maybe quietly toiling away could bring some recognition in the last century, but not in this one. Today you have to crisply define your value in a succinct, benefit-driven way that tells those in your sphere of influence why you and the work you do matters.
What I’m talking about is crafting a value proposition that comes from your highest self--two or three sentences that you use at the beginning of every pitch, at your review, on your bio, and LinkedIn profile and shrink down to 140-characters on Twitter. To make an unforgettable impression, your value proposition should contain your mission, unique skills, and expertise, and how those things serve your target audience.
Whether you're a television producer selling to networks struggling to increase ratings and solidify their brands or you're a marketing executive at a major corporation challenged by your boss to engage customers, your job is to be the solution. If you’re not the solution, then you are irrelevant.
To create your own value proposition, think about your target’s pain points and the solutions you provide. If you’re not sure what those points are, ask them to tell you their single biggest challenge. Then use these helpful tips to deliver your value in a way that solves their problem.
- First, convey WHY you do what you do (your mission).
- Share your point-of-view, for example, “I believe that…”
- Declare what is unique about you--how do you stand out?
- Next, tell them how you’re the solution to their pain.
- Offer some credibility that gives them reasons to believe you.
- Keep it simple--be conversational and don’t use confusing terms.
- Finally, make sure you whet their appetite so they’ll want to hear more!
Here is an example of a value proposition for a project manager or outside consultant:
“I am a collaboration catalyst. I believe that bringing people together to arrive at a solution creates buy in and unifies the company toward a common goal. The magic happens when I pull people together from different areas of the organization and then lead the charge to move projects forward effectively and efficiently. My specialty is in helping to set and achieve goals better/faster/cheaper by welding radically different perspectives into a single team effort, avoiding wasted or dead-end thinking. I’ve demonstrated this unique skill at both Dell and IBM with astounding results and I know I can do it for you!”
Your value proposition should have the same confident tone as the example above. It must aim to serve, rather than sell. When you are finished saying it, there should be no mistake that you are a true asset and undeniable talent.
I learned long ago the power of taking charge of your perception to build your brand. In the fifth grade, I sang, “I’m the Greatest Star” in front of my entire elementary school. My favorite lyric in that number is, “I blow my horn until someone blows it.” Needless to say, I belted it out and haven’t stopped since.