The Importance of a Value Proposition
It may seem obvious to those of you in business however, it is surprising how many designers are not tuned in to the value their work has in growing and retaining customer numbers. Moreover, it surprising how many designers I meet are still talking the language of creativity exclusively, and not the language of business creativity.
What do I mean by this? This other day, I met a friend of mine who has just been made the General Manager of a company who build the most amazing, immersive technologies and experiences for organisations. He is from a design background. He told me that his experiences cost $2m to build and asked my advice on how to sell these to clients in the regions I operate in. To my surprise, he had not gone beyond the 'wow' and expected his client to see the demo and buy on the spot. Granted, there may be customers (especially in the middle east), who see and buy, but these are few and far between. In order to present a compelling case for 'investing' in this technology, my friend needs to think about the business case or value proposition of his product. For instance, if his client is investing $2m in this technology, how will he get that back and how long will it take?
I believe so strongly in this concept that it is difficult to go to a client and ask them for any investment without first considering the value proposition and this value proposition is built on soft and hard metrics. Needless to say, it is important for clients to also consider the value proposition of every investment in creative, or digital services.
Soft metrics include (but are not limited to) any increase in brand perception amongst your target audience, media exposure and improvements in experience vs the local, regional, or international benchmarks. All of which can be measured
Hard metrics include (but are not limited to), any uplift in sales, cross-sell, partnership revenue share or investment. All of which can be measured.
Before any project begins, it is nearly impossible to measure any of these variables in a meaningful way, that is unless and until there is a comparison or measurement tool in place that will specifically measure impact. For instance, recently I saw a design agency who had begun installing sensors into stores. These sensors measured traffic patterns, behaviours and gathered data that could be correlated to find patterns and themes - to form benchmarks. A clever idea, that positions this agency in a way where, the more projects they work on, and the more sites in which they install their sensors, the more accurate data they will have on real patterns and the real impact of their work on the bottom line. Working this way, they are able to build a real-time dashboard of trends and behaviours that are cross-industry, and accurately defines not only the brief, but measures impact, effectively building a value proposition, and measurement tool all in one... amazing! The future of disciplined creativity is here, now.
Ten tips for Designers and Business that will help understand how design creates value:
Collect real data - before and after every creative exercise to measure impact
Build a framework using data to demonstrate how creativity has impacted on business results
Do not be afraid of the data - sometimes it will surprise you
Remember data is the new oil - collect it at every opportunity
Link tangible results to your investment and base these on real, measured impact
Understand priorities and ensure data is collected to inform these
Ensure the data you collect is clean and verifiable
Scale is all - try to collect as much data as possible from as many relevant data points as possible
Try to collect data over a prolonged period so as to identify macro and micro trends
Remember not everything can be measured scientifically