How many 50 page catalogs have you flipped through, filled with 1-page product descriptions focused on features that are expensive to create and are rarely updated? Probably more than you can count, and probably more than you cared to read through because the information truly wasn't useful. Even worse, why don't any of those offering documents sell the outcomes and benefits for a customer?
I'm currently working with a company, helping them take a customer-back perspective and organize what makes their offering great according to outcomes by customer segment and competitive situation. The intent is to provide a more useful 'catalog' that will have real impact on a customer's buying decision.
Here are the seven core activities you can do to make your offering catalog more customer centric:
Align on what customers buy, not what you sell. This nuance can kill customer engagement right from the start. Do customers want to buy a partner or a specific product? Maybe both? For example, a contractor using your products is more likely looking for a business partner. A railroad is probably looking for a product or service to improve their operation. Understand this and take an inventory.
Align on the competitive situations you find. For each of the things customers buy, identify relevant competitive situations. Competitors could be another company, a product substitute, customers doing it themselves, customers not doing anything, or upgrading from a specific solution. There could be one or more contexts to consider.
Align on the customer segments you serve. For each of the things customers buy, identify the relevant customer segments that matter to your business. Start simple and use a segmentation scheme that is already well known to your organization
Create a distinct list of your value propositions. A good value proposition will encompass those first three dimensions: what customers want to buy, competitive context, and customer segment. How many do you have? List them all out and start with the ones most critical to growing your business.
Define differentiated value propositions that connect product features to customer outcomes. For each value proposition, don't simply document a pithy elevator pitch. Instead, articulate a series of value stories that connect differentiating features to the people who care about it at the customer and to the outcome they should expect. You may end up with more than a few of these value stories. Rank them based on value to the customer, given the competitive context and customer segment. Bonus points for quantifying the value customers should expect for one or more of the value stories.
Complete the Marketing Strategy. Now it's time to bring in the rest of the marketing 101 information. What is the market size? Who are the competitors? What positioning? Branding considerations? Pricing / profitability? This information will be easier to communicate by starting with a value proposition rather than just the product.
Connect to the organization. Establish this work as a dynamic source of record for the organization. Sales, marketing communications, product management should all know where to access the most up-to-date information on the value proposition. You can't force people to become more customer centric but their use of the same common data on outcomes will push them in the right direction.
The above is just a quick outline for achieving a better product catalog that resonates with customers. If you want to learn more about the details, send us a message below and we'll be happy to share more of our experiences.