As a marketer I spend all day, every day thinking about expressing how my company's products meet market/customer needs. I work hard on the prose, simplify the diagrams and especially focus on the underlying issues.
That said, I have a sneaking suspicion that I could be doing better and here's why - is my positioning really doing that good a job about reflecting what customers were telling us they needed?
The challenge comes from every customer expressing their specific needs, using their specific language and our ability to translate that into a description of a requirement that we can build / provide the capability for and doing that in a standardised, scalable fashion.
Think for a while about buying a computer - relatively few people will express what they need as a list of components or technical features; they tell us what they want to use the computer for, where/how it will be used and expect us to work out the details and propose the best solution that meets their needs. In addition to which, they are bombarded by conflicting advice / recommendations from a host of different sources - sound familiar?
Thankfully, customer analytics can help us understand those myriad of requirements, find the patterns in the otherwise unique conversations that help us address those requirements and in a way that plays to our strengths. It can even help us to understand how good a job we are doing in satisfying our customers.
The formula is simple enough - the customer will more fully understand the value when they know that your proposal has accurately addressed and reflected their expressed needs in the language with which they find comfortable. To paraphrase Clay Shirky at a recent conference - let's not spend our time trying to educate the customer - I would rather educate myself.