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The Only Question That Matters

Even in the most disparate categories and business models, all enterprises share an overarching critical need: how to provide a more valuable answer than their competitors to the one question that ultimately drives decision making for their target audiences.

What’s in it for me?

Obviously, when individuals and groups have many viable options, irrespective of their decision-making process, it always comes down to calculating relative win. And as straightforward and empowering as the notion of the most valuable win may be, identifying the “what’s in it for me” answer is almost always a hit or miss undertaking.

The good news is: there are always underlying dynamics which, when properly understood, can be used to create a framework for determining an organization’s most potent answer, a framework that, with exceptional discipline, clarity and precise articulation, provides a foolproof path to a more compelling and catalytic answer than that of their competitors.

In choice-rich conditions, a product, service or other core output’s “functional benefit” – the central tangible win it can provide – is almost never, on its own, a sufficiently motivating “what’s in it for me” to achieve critical objectives, no matter how excellent or competitively superior the benefit may be. In B2C you can never win competitive races on functionality alone. The same holds true in a wide range of B2B settings - even when functional wins play a more heavily weighted role than in B2C.

Businesses today almost always operate in environments where their intended audiences have abundance of choice. And increasingly, an overabundance.

To become and remain a leader, in addition to exceptional tangible benefits, the product, service and organization has to provide exceptional intangible benefits – emotional and psychological wins that go hand in hand with functional ones. Not surprisingly, given the breadth of choices potential customers have in almost all categories, the role of intangible benefits as decision drivers continues to grow in importance.

By identifying, articulating and seamlessly linking the most valuable-to-customers intangible benefits a product, service and organization can offer/deliver with its central tangible benefit, a structured, multidimensional and highly actionable map of the most compelling “what’s in it for them” answer emerges. This creates a lens through which to confidently and cohesively shape all elements that key audiences, external and internal, will encounter and experience – from product, service or program interfaces and use to aspects as seemingly ephemeral as how individuals feel about having made what they believe is a smart decision.


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