Branding Gotchas: When Going Too Broad Produces Less Impact

As a marketing and brand consultant, I am often asked to review value propositions of organizations, small businesses and individuals. One common mistake I see frequently is the value proposition that is so broad and all encompassing that it says virtually nothing.

Examples: We solve organizational problems. Or: We improve people’s lives.

What on earth does that mean? What kind of organizational problems do you solve? Are you a psychologist or a leadership expert or a relationship coach? Or do you help me transport information more effectively throughout my organization? How do you improve people’s lives? Have you found the cure for cancer or the common cold? Do you know how to solve world hunger or prevent global warming?  Or have you found an easy way to get through airport security quickly?

The people who spout these lines tell me they don’t want to limit themselves or cut off potential audiences. They want to leave themselves enough flexibility to grow or to address new areas in the future.

That’s great, but in the present your statements are so broad as to be totally useless. I don’t know what you do, who you do it for, when I should call you or why you are different from other alternatives I might be considering. In other words, I don’t understand the value you provide, which is the point of a value proposition to start with.

If you target everyone and everything, you target no one. There is nothing on earth that is applicable to everyone without some clarification and modification–not even air and water.

So instead of trying to get your arms around the whole enchilada how about coming up with something that’s focused, concise and to the point. Tell us what you do and who you do it for. Let people know right away whether or not they should be listening further, and just as importantly, who they might know who might be a good prospect for you and your services.

Give us something we can digest, one bite at a time. You’ll do more with less and go further, too.

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