Customer Value Propositions: A Blueprint for Business Success

Customer Value Proposition

When a business decides to re-think its strategy, it’s usually in response to a significant disruption or opportunity to the organisation.

Competitive pressure and intensity, new market entrant, loss of market share, new emerging markets, mergers and acquisitions … It’s at this point that time is released to step back, re-evaluate and shape a better future.

It’s also at this point that a strategy process is invoked that draws on multiple organisational resources – it’s a costly exercise in terms of time and resources, but one that also has the possibility of unlocking immense value for the business.

This article takes what we consider to be the fundamental starting point of a strategic re-think – your Customer Value Proposition (CVP).

There are so many definitions of what a CVP is, this is ours …

A CVP is a directional strategic framework for a business to model itself in alignment to customer value drivers.

A blueprint, if you like, for a business to model around the customer.

An effective value proposition gives an organisation the direction, focus and permission to invest resources and drive activities that are more aligned to the things customers really value.

As a result they like you more, use you more and the outcome is you drive an increase in enterprise value.

All too often, the temptation is to launch into business model optimisation, focusing on business value drivers (as they’re understood today) to the detriment of focusing on the benefactors of business value – your target customers.

It’s obliquity in practice.

In order to drive commercial value, you first need to excel in delivering customer value.

Next, you must build an efficient business model around it.

The combination of an effective CVP and efficient business model to deliver on it is the way modern business can effectively compete.

What are the key components of an effective CVP? What is the CVP framework?

Firstly, it’s a universal promise that deeply connects with the customer in both functional and emotional terms. This is the ‘why’ you do what you do.

We’ve all heard the stories of the ‘big boys’ who manage to home in on an undeniable truth about their customers – Nike is all about Winning; BMW is Joy; Harley Davidson is Freedom; the list goes on …

Whilst these sound simplistic, the means to arriving at such clarity and precise definition of what your customer actually buys into is the product of a highly analytical, creative and engaging process. (More on this in a moment).

Secondly, it’s a definition of the value commitments you make to the customer. This is the ‘WHAT’ you do uniquely as an organisation in terms of activities and resources that realises the promise.

Your true differentiators, determined through a thorough process of inside-out interrogation (what are you distinctively good at) allied with an equally thorough outside-in judgement and assessment of the business and market.

The output we call ‘value commitments’ are the most fundamental levers you can pull as an organisation to deliver tangible value to the customer and thereby win their vote against your competitors.

Thirdly and finally, it’s about value bridging. This is where the rubber really hits the road.

Determining the tangible and prioritised changes an organisation needs to make to bridge the gap between today’s business operating model and a future model predicated on delivering optimal customer value.

Easy right!

Well actually no, it’s not.

Development of an effective customer value proposition is a combination of critical and creative thinking. It’s a process requiring distinct expertise, experience and evaluation.

Here at The Team, we’ve got over 40 years of experience developing a proven set of tools and methodologies that enable organisations like yours to fully re-evaluate their value. This helps you to confidently kick-start your programme to a future business model defined around customer value to optimise commercial value.

One thing we’ve learned through experience is to avoid inertia through ‘analysis paralysis’. Maintaining pace and focus is a key pre-requisite to an effective process and higher quality outcomes.

So our approach facilitates accelerated learning (discovery), an intensive ‘workshopping’ phase leading to a synthesis and completion of the CVP blueprint.

Remember at the beginning of this article we referred to the resource intensity of strategic re-thinks?

Well, this is why we’ve modelled our approach to compress the process without loss of quality – it takes commitment, senior engagement and real collaboration, but the pay-back is well worth the effort.

It also means you arrive at a solution (CVP blueprint) typically within 4 weeks!

The final step is ‘Bridging’, whereby the impact of the defined CVP is critically understood in terms of current and future business operating model.

So let’s examine the steps in a little more detail:


💡 Step 1: Learning (discovery)

Time for a data amnesty!

Now, we’re not suggesting you need a 10 year transactional data history here. What is required is a comprehensive and balanced spectrum of data sources that allow us to rapidly build knowledge of a business, its environment and its customers.

Every organisation is unique and has its own particularities.

We work with a lot of businesses across a lot of sectors – financial services to farming; technology to transportation; renewable energy to real estate. This acquisition of knowledge is a valuable asset for any project as we bring as much to the table as you do.


💡 Step 2: Workshop Intensives

There’s no greater power in business than bringing together great minds with a common cause to crack a collective problem. So long as it’s done with structure and the aid of tools and techniques that aid an organisation to think differently.

Critical thinking is predicated on logic and an underlying toolset that enables an organisation to extract real meaning from data.

Insight, knowledge, intelligence are all perfectly adequate terms for this.

However, it’s how you look at data and interrogate it both critically and creatively that makes the difference.

All too often we see obvious surface statements of what the data says. What it lacks however is the underlying distillation of why these things are happening and the strategic consequence of them. This is both a science and an art, or as we call it – critical and creative thinking.

This is where consultancies such as ours deviate from each other.

The reality is that everybody is asking the same basic question – how do we build an effective Customer Value Proposition and what are the tools, techniques, models, frameworks employed to do that?

The most basic of answers would be that there is no one single approach.

Everyone has their preferred toolkit. We might go on to expand on that and explain that many strategy tools are successfully used in various applications to achieve good results.

At The Team, we’ve tried and tested a wide range of these tools and techniques and honed it down to a toolset that interrogates your business, market and customer from a different perspective.

We focus on the forces that oppose a business, those things a business is critically fighting for.

We seek to understand the business quest and evaluate the ‘superpowers’ a business can deploy that aligns to either counteracting or acting upon these factors. This builds a rich framework and ‘story’ for any CVP.


💡 Step 3: Synthesis

The final template.

We mentioned at the very start of this article that a Customer Value Proposition is a directional strategic framework for a business to model itself in optimal alignment to customer value drivers. A blueprint for a business to model around the customer.

The danger here is twofold:

1) The final output lacks the fidelity and codification for a business to act upon it – that is, the framework lacks the definition to drive the final stage of ‘Bridging’, whereby the business re-structures activities and resources in its operating model to deliver the Customer Value Proposition in real life.

2) Equally dangerous, the Customer Value Proposition becomes so overwhelming in detail and functionality that it detracts interest, stifles engagement and ultimately is consigned to the ‘that seemed like a good idea at the time’ shelf.

The output of synthesis must be an engaging reference point that enables anyone within the organisation to unpack and easily describe the businesses unique way of delivering value to customers.

All the necessary components in place – core purpose and promise, differentiating value commitments, proof points, values.

To re-iterate, lots of fantastic work can be undone at this stage. The ultimate test is to take it to the customer and ask them. If they understand and engage with it, the chances are you have articulated the CVP correctly.


💡Step 4: Value Bridging

Creating the synapse between the Customer Value Proposition framework/blueprint and real business change is the ultimate goal.

Translating value commitments into a re-defined customer relationship model, channel selection, re-defining core business activities and resources to align to the customer is challenging. It is a process of re-crafting the business model canvas and prioritising change.

No organisation will be starting from scratch. There are always things a business does today that will meet or exceed the needs of customers.

There are however other areas that will need improving upon or creating. Value bridging involves organisational wide engagement to define the baseline of today (what is being done well vs where there are gaps) and projecting a vision of tomorrow.

The space between the two is where you build the bridge. We have run exercises where this has been done, again in workshop environments, with a core project group through to 100 – 150 nominated key business SMEs (subject matter experts).

Ultimately, it’s a process of understanding todays reality, forming a picture of tomorrows possibilities and within the gap between the two, distilling out the key themes and workstream definitions that enable an organisation to put theory into practice.


customer value proposition

Final thoughts

So there you have it.

A view on breaking the myths of crafting a Customer Value Proposition. We would leave you with what we consider to be key outtakes from this article:

An effective customer value proposition allied with an efficient operating model will deliver commercial value

✔️ The process must be kept focused and accelerated.

✔️ The facilitation and toolset is critical. Experience and expertise is crucial to ensure critical and creative thinking, not just more of the same.

✔️ Engagement is key, from top to bottom. If you can’t tell the story, then your customer certainly won’t get it.


The Team offers a range of options to help you start your journey to a new Customer Value Proposition, whether you want to just dip a toe in the ocean or engage a full strategic review, we can help.

Let’s work together