Why Every Organization Needs a Core Value Proposition

When you’re describing your company to strangers, do you see their eyes glaze over as they check their phone?  Or do they listen intently and ask questions when you’re finished? If it’s the latter, I’m willing to bet you have a solid core value proposition that serves as a springboard for all your messaging.

What does your company do … for me?  Can you answer that question in a way that captures the essence, brand and value of what you offer? No corporate speak. No jargon. No sales pitch. Just the core value.

 What is a core value proposition (CVP) and why do you need one?

A CVP should clearly answer this question: Why should I buy your product or service? Tell me … in less than a minute. A CVP tells the client the value they’ll get from doing business with you.

According to Harvard business professor Robert S. Kaplan, “Consistent alignment of capabilities and internal processes with the customer value proposition is the core of any strategy execution.”1

Forbes magazine concurs: “Establishing a substantive value proposition is critical if you want to start the journey from your idea to building a successful company.” 2

A believable CVP sets the tone for what clients can expect from you, what differentiates you from your competitors, and the promise of a lasting business relationship. Think of it as a highly persuasive invitation to find out more about your business. A solid CVP gives people a reason to pay attention to your company and take action. It’s the foundation of all marketing and promotional messaging.

How is a CVP different from a mission statement?

Usually, a mission statement is more conceptual than a CVP, often reflecting the company founder’s culture and business aspirations; and it’s rarely updated. A CVP tells clients the specific value of your products or services. Though it’s different from your mission statement, the two should be aligned.

What your CVP must do:

  • Define the problems your business solves
  • Identify the customers for whom you provide solutions
  • Differentiate you from your competitors.

What makes you stand out from the crowd? Your CVP should make this clear.

Put your CVP to the test.

Is your CVP relevant, especially to your target market? Is it believable and credible? It must be flexible enough to grow along with your business and your clients’ needs. And, most importantly, it must connect and emotionally resonate with your target audience.

The genesis of a core value proposition.

The GillespieHall team works with our clients to develop their CVPs, starting with a rigorous discovery process. We interview clients, customers and stakeholders. Often, we uncover new questions and find answers to them. Getting to know your target audience is at the core of this process.

Remember, your CVP is the threshold to your value. It is the one clear, relatable aspect of your business that connects you to your target market. To do its job well, the CVP must be clear, direct and benefits-oriented. It must tell customers what you can do for them, how you can make their lives better.

“This is a very complicated world, it’s a very noisy world,” said Steve Jobs, “so we have to be very clear on what we want them to know about us.” 3


  1. https://goo.gl/images/uVYjH
  2. https://www.forbes.com/sites/rebeccabagley/2013/09/04/how-to-develop-a-compelling-value-proposition/#6a4e35962a7a
  3. http://www.presentationzen.com/presentationzen/2016/09/shortly-after-he-returned-to-apple-in-1997-he-gave-an-internal-presentation-to-employees-from-the-town-hall-building-on-the.html
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