Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

What have you done for me lately? Why defining the ‘why’ of your business has never been more important

By Rebecca Allen, Director, Pardalis

‘It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one most adaptable to change’ 

This quote, often wrongly attributed to Charles Darwin (albeit inspired by Origin of Species), was coined by business professor Leon C. Megginson in the 1960s. Has it ever been more apt for the business world today?

The turbulence of the last few years, months and even the last week is putting this adage to the test for the digital marketing industry at pace. Tough decisions around resourcing have had to be made, as almost everyone has been scrambling to fight fires and retain clients. At the same time, we also know that out of crisis can come innovation; we have already seen some clear winners emerge over this time.

But whilst getting creative with business models, pricing, and product development have been methods of survival for many, what can often get lost in the fray is ensuring that you have a strong, defensible value proposition. In its simplest sense, a clearly defined articulation of what you promise to deliver for whom, and why. If this isn’t something you’ve looked at in a while, particularly in an altered market landscape, the medium to long-term health of your business could be in danger, for several reasons.

Over the last few years, I have worked with many content and martech businesses on developing and articulating their value proposition – in essence, their ‘why’.  In some cases, it was the first time they had gone through the process; for several, it involved interrogating and revising previous efforts in light of much change since. 

In all cases, to varying degrees, it revealed unclear positioning, a lack of internal cohesion, and gaps in customer insight.

Whether you have previously crafted a value proposition or not, I highly recommend taking that bit of time to step back and do this work, which, if executed well, will reward you with:

A clearly differentiated, leading market positioning

Internal team alignment and performance

Maximum client value

Let’s take those three areas in turn.

A differentiated and leading market position

A common, and understandable issue for start-ups is the ‘Jack of all Trades’ syndrome. In the rush to get a business over the starting, there is often a blurring of focus as you try to satisfy every type of customer with every type of offering they could buy from you. As businesses scale, it becomes just as important to define what you are not, as what you are. Serving a specific sector of the market with a product or service exceptionally well usually creates more value than trying to spread your efforts too thinly; it elevates your market positioning and raises the competitive barriers to entry.

It also provides the clarity needed for strong sales and marketing messaging, which requires consistency across all channels to be most effective.

Internal team alignment and performance

Having a shared vision that you can get your team bought into – the purpose of the company and the value you are creating – is pivotal to staff motivation and retention. With a clear value proposition, you will be able to articulate the wider ‘why’ to your teams, and crucially, they will be able to communicate it amongst themselves and externally. Mastery and autonomy can happily stem from this (for future posts).

It is also a powerful recruitment tool; the process of developing a value proposition very often uncovers some unmet skills and experience needs, and the resulting messaging for new talent is stronger. This is turn reduces the enormous risk to resourcing budgets, team morale, and growth momentum that the wrong hires can impact.

Maximum client value

This is probably the most important area of all, as it forms the basis for being able to scale up your organisation, whilst being intrinsically linked to the first two. A value proposition should not exist in a vacuum, it needs to closely align with your key customers and their needs. With certainty about the specific problems you will help them solve, and/or ambitions you will help them realise, you will be able to apply a laser focus to delivering the best possible value to them. An important part of the process, therefore, is to gain a thorough understanding of what your existing and target customers care about and bring that into your proposition work. 

Value creation is of course a virtuous two-way street; when you are confidently meeting the needs of your core client base in the best and most focused way possible, you can increase customer LTV and so more predictably scale.

When it comes to your business, have there been any significant changes in:

  • Market dynamics, competitive landscape?
  • Org structure, talent, client retention? 
  • Client base composition, buying personas?

If the answer is yes to any, it may be time to (re)visit your value proposition.To chat about this over a cuppa or scale-up advice in general, contact me at