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Developing the Value Proposition

A strong value proposition is a key to making more connections with members. It is made up of one or more benefit statements, sometimes called key messages. These state what a member should expect from you and show them how your product or service benefits them.

Key messages help educate and promote your value. They are expectations that you back up with proof in your actions, your communications, and your behavior.

A value proposition distinguishes why being a member of your association is different than not being one. It’s the reason someone pays dues, invests in a class or uses your new technology. It’s a promise of what they will receive in exchange for their investment. It’s your commitment and promise of what you’ll deliver.

The value proposition is a meaningful way to illustrate association benefits (current and future) that you identified in the research phase. The value proposition may be a based on an idea that puts members’ minds at ease like, “We listen so that we can help you through your toughest problems.” Or a functional solution like, “Our technology keeps you on the leading edge.” Your unique proposition depends on what outcome you can actually provide as an answer for what your members most need.

You Can Have More than One Value Proposition

Because REALTOR® associations vary in size and strength, your value statement will likely be different than your neighboring association’s. The feedback you get from your members, your board’s ideas, your strengths, and even your personality will be reflected in your value statement. A short and vague value proposition achieves nothing. The same goes for a long and tedious one. Be direct. Be clear. And be sure you have the supporting messages to back it up.

You can have two or more value propositions. They may vary for each of your key target audiences. Or you might consider one value proposition with different key messages for each audience.

There is no standard length for a value proposition. It may be short or lengthy. Decide which fits your organization best. A few options:

  • 3-5 word tagline
  • A statement written in sentence form
  • Paragraph(s) explaining what you do and why it matters

Writing the Value Proposition

Once you compile the findings from your member research, your team is ready to go to work creating your value proposition. The team can include both staff and leadership. It should include significant representation from elected leadership.

As a group, begin to craft a value proposition that answers this question: X Association of REALTORS® is an organization that__________(fill in the blank).

To do this you’ll identify the benefits members say are most important to them. Then compare your members’ needs with what your association does well and cull your top benefits down to a short, achievable list. Your key benefits may differ for each target audience.

Double-Check Your Member Benefits

Benefits can be functional and/or emotional, and are outcome-based. Functional benefits say what the member can do with your service or tool. Emotional benefits are the feelings the member gets when they acquire your service.

Ask yourself if something is really a benefit, a feature, or an advantage. Here are some examples to help you distinguish between the three.

Feature: A distinctive characteristic of a service or tool you offer. This might be a publication, a special presenter for a class, a mobile app, or your advocacy efforts.

Advantage: An aspect of that service or product that gives the feature a better chance of success. Examples include a quick method for delivering news so members don’t have to log in to your website (mobile app), a popular speaker who earned top scores, or a GAD who dedicates a certain amount of time on “the Hill.”

Benefit: Goes beyond telling about the feature or advantage and conveys how the offering will help members be more successful and/or improve their livelihood. The benefit can be functional and/or emotional. For example:

  • We provide the industry knowledge you need to give you credibility with your clients
  • Continuing education that gives you the information you need to both find and close more business today
  • The tool helps members understand, access, and communicate properties to prospective home-buyers
  • Protecting homeowner rights helps us continue to support “the American dream” for you and your clients. There is strength in our numbers.

Verify the Benefits

To verify the benefits, ask yourself if your target audience benefits from your claim. Does the benefit deliver a solution that members need? If you confirm that the solution is needed, then ask yourself if your association is the best source to deliver it. Is it a current association strength today, or one that the association aspires toward? Be sure you can deliver on the benefit.

Next, ask what makes this benefit so special. Is it strong enough? Are you claiming to offer it easier, faster, cheaper, better, or somehow different than if members sought it on their own? If not, you should be.

Share and Test Value Proposition Concepts

Compile ideas and concepts regarding the wording of the value proposition. Create several drafts and do not judge them. Choose the highest value-added benefits to include in your first draft. Your value proposition is strongest if it focuses on one single idea.

Take time to set your work aside and then come back to it later. You may see your words differently after a break or a new idea may come to your mind. Turn them around and look at the proposition from your members’ perspective. Ask yourself how each possible statement will connect with your target audience(s).

Test some of your value propositions. Tap members to check if the statement(s) is clear and credible. Once modified, tested, and approved, it’s time to share with your staff and board. Take their feedback and work to create the most impactful messages into your value proposition. Whether it’s an overall statement by itself, or includes brief supporting information, keep it simple!

Debut Your Value Proposition

Do not broadcast the value proposition to your membership until you publish it for your staff. Set your expectations for what it is and how to use it.

The most effective way to set expectations is to present the value proposition and its purpose at a staff meeting, along with the specific ideas about how to use it. The more often you use the value proposition in meetings, decision-making, and other daily interactions, the faster it will become part of your culture.

Important Definitions

Vision: States how the world will look once you achieve your strategic plan. (often inspirational)
Mission: Defines your everyday actions as you work towards your vision.
Value Proposition: A unique statement of the benefit an association offers its members. It distinguishes why being a member is different than not being one. It’s the reason members should pay their dues, invest in a class, or invest in new technology. It is a promise of what they will receive in exchange for their investment.

Next: Communicating Value