Why a sustainable value proposition may be an imperative in the new economy
Environmental responsibility is an enormous task for the maritime industry. Most of the day-to-day focus is on regulatory compliance. However, when it comes to market development, each organisation can benefit from a strategic narrative that speaks to customer priorities and desired outcomes.
Increasing the perception of the value you provide is critical to staying competitive. The time and effort required will not only make your marketing spend much more efficient, but it will also speed up your sales cycle.
A value proposition that ties your product or service to the needs of buyers can further connect them to addressing a global sustainability goal. It can set you apart from those companies that seem uninspired by blue ocean recovery and demonstrate your leadership in innovative thinking.
Here are some recommended steps:
A clear value proposition that will underpin customer relationships
Many organisations spend a large proportion of their promotional budget on brand or product advertising. Further funding is then expended on the creation of somewhat “generic” promotional materials. This seems to us to be counterintuitive when there are relatively few players in each segment and where the primary business development successes arise from long-term relationships.
Now that business development has switched to online formats, just touting the technical features and benefits of a product or service will not help to establish the trust and value that has been built historically through face to face events and relationship building.
Consistently communicating the value that you offer through all of your promotional activity and tailoring messages to your ideal buyer will achieve at least two immediate outcomes: a step away from a commoditised sale, and a speedier sales process as the buyer will be better informed.
A compelling message is not necessarily delivered using the most significant budget or the fanciest of materials. Instead, it is one that is understood by the customer to offer them value.
Some organisations are already making the shift; notably, the LinkedIn feed of HamiltonJet is awash with examples of how their products have delivered value for their customers.
Validated insight on your customers and prospects
Your business development team will undoubtedly have significant insight into your customers and the market in which you operate. Some of that insight will be coloured by their prior experience and will often have the timestamp of the last meeting or telephone conversation.
Without regular and consistent insight on your customers and prospects, it is almost impossible to determine un-met and under-met needs. Digitally native organisations now have that insight at their fingertips and share widely throughout the organisation. How much more effective would you be if your marketing or customer service teams were as close to your customers as your business development team (or perhaps vice versa)?
Engage with your customers and your markets, and learn as an organisation, not as individuals or individual teams. Switch out some of the old brochure budget to undertake customer focus interviews and sponsored surveys. This will enable you to anticipate changes in the market.
In addition, the sales pipeline stabilises because your team can respond directly to feedback from customers and prospects much more quickly and effectively. As the customer requirements become better defined, so does the response of your organisation to meeting them.
Building additional credibility through customer education
Once your value proposition is aligned to your customer priorities and your organisational values, use it consistently across all your channels. Educate your prospects regularly online. Build trust with your customers by featuring them in your marketing channels and asking them to do the same for you.
The join up of Wave International and Sunseeker is an excellent example of synergistic messaging and education.
How does this tie back to sustainability?
Building a sustainable value proposition is not about creating a greener image. Having a sustainable reputation is achieved through understanding the value you deliver to your customers as well as understanding the sustainability elements that are important to them.
We believe that, in the same way that organisations communicated their response to the Covid-19 crises, the time is now for the maritime industry to articulate how they are responding to blue ocean recovery.
Rather than being a marker of an acceptable CSR policy, we believe that businesses can leverage and use active sustainability as a source of value creation. A sustainable value proposition will help you stay competitive while enriching both your reputation and your bottom line.