An Innovative Idea’s Most Valuable Three Sentences

Innovation is about putting new ideas into use. A value proposition links your innovative idea with enduring customer needs and your ability to deliver.

Building a powerful three sentence value proposition

Having researched, taught, developed, and used value propositions for decades we have developed a simple method to array your information about an innovative idea into a powerful form that can be easily shared with others. The following worksheet divides your value proposition into three sentences.

Sentence 1:  Market, needs product and benefits

o   The first phrase in the first sentence identifies the target of the idea.  There is no value without an intended customer in mind.

o   The second phrase shows what the customer needs.

o   The third phrase identifies your idea.

o   The fourth phrase describes the benefit of your idea as it fills the needs of your intended customer.  This is sometimes difficult and can be addressed by asking “why” your customer needs your idea.

Sentence 2: Competitive ability and advantage

o   The first phrase of the second sentence describes the advantage of your idea.

o   The second phrase explains what is different from the competition.

  • Sentence 3: Request

o   The third sentence makes clear what you want your intended audience to do.

Value proposition worksheet for innovative healthcare idea

Structure Information
First Sentence:
For (target customer) For people with borderline cholesterol level,
Who (statement of the need or opportunity) who need to know their actual level risk for coronary heart disease (CHD),
The (product or service name) the LipoProfile diagnostic test,
That (statement of benefit)  allows patients and physicians to discover their unseen risk of CHD.
Second Sentence:
Unlike (primary competitive offering) Unlike conventional cholesterol tests that only measures total, high-density and low density cholesterol,
Our offering (statement of primary differentiation) our offering measures the number and concentration of cholesterol particles to more accurately predict CHD risk.
Third Sentence:
Therefore, we request Therefore we request you ask doctors to order the LipoProfile when you have a borderline level of cholesterol

These three sentences do not provide proof for an idea. They just array information you already have or call attention to information you need to gather to make a clear statement about the value of your idea.

The value proposition is used as your elevator pitch, as the core starting point of a business model and as the start of the executive summary of a business case.

Where Do Value Propositions Come From?

Value propositions are the core of all business opportunities but where do value propositions come from?  A value proposition is an idea (the recognition that something has commercial value) embedded in enduring customer needs and in your company’s ability to deliver it to the market.

Ideas are not value propositions

We all have ideas – many ideas.  It’s fun to have ideas.  We all enjoy the entrepreneurial flash, the cognitive gratification of drawing disparate concepts together into something valuable.  Ideas are like having children – fun to conceive of but hard to deliver.  Most organizations are awash in ideas.  They’re a dime a dozen.  We have more ideas than we know what to do with.  Ideas alone are of little value.  So why do we continue to have so many “ideation” sessions?  – Because we are really looking for value propositions.

The problem comes when we think ideas are value propositions.  We can all have “good” ideas, however, value propositions need information and insight from external sources.  No one is smart enough to come up with a value proposition in isolation.

“The answer is not in the room”

You cannot discover the value of an idea sitting in a room no matter how smart you are, no matter how experienced you or your team might be.  Value propositions need connection with customers and your company’s delivery mechanisms.

The insight that value propositions need connection with markets and abilities is a “good idea.”  We have sophisticated methods to understand our customers’ needs such as Voice of the Customers, lead user, site visits. Our understanding of how to build the ability to deliver has increased dramatically through product development processes, open innovation, supply chain management and sales force management programs.

Information alone does not create a value proposition 

These information-gathering techniques provide the substance to value propositions.  Neglect these techniques and you will only have ideas and never a value proposition.  In another post we describe a powerful method to arrange the information in a value proposition format that other people can readily understand.