Understanding your value proposition

To succeed in new export markets, you have to offer a product or service that is unique or of value to your target customer. Don't assume that what sells here, will sell there.

Discover how to develop a Value Proposition that sells the benefits of your product or service and differentiates you from your competitors – and learn how to test it. Confirming you’ve got your product and value proposition right will help you win new overseas customers and focus your promotional efforts on markets or segments that will generate ongoing profitable sales.

Successful exporters are laser-focused. They know precisely what they’re selling, who they’re selling to, and why – and they focus their efforts on the most valuable customers. If you want to achieve this level of clarity, and the results that come with it, the first step is to have a clear Value Proposition and test it via customer research in your intended new markets.

“If you haven't validated and got it right it’s very hard to come back the second time.” Paul Dibbayawan, NZTE Beachhead Advisor.

Understanding your value proposition and market fit

This Export Essentials guide introduces you to the key elements of a value proposition and what to consider when testing market fit. You’ll find information on:

  • Things to consider when you develop your Value Proposition
  • Some questions to test with your customers
  • A reminder to understand the distribution and value chain in your desired marketplace
  • What’s important for a customer or consumer to hear when you leverage and communicate your value proposition

Download our free introductory guide on this page for tips and considerations when developing your Value Proposition.

Watch this four-minute video of Geraldine Schnauer from Dunninghams explains how market testing identified their unique value that gives them a competitive advantage.

If you would like to learn more about developing the right approach to exporting for your business, register now for the next Export Essentials workshop. We’ll give you practical tools and techniques to take your business global.

Paul Dibbayawan:  As an exporter what would I need to understand as value proposition is I really need to understand my brands; I really need to understand what it represents and the values that I feel strong that has to translate to someone else who wants to actually look at it and either buy my product or not buy my product. 

Geraldine Schnauer: I think it’s necessary to validate the product and the offering for the market because it takes a lot of time and resources to service an export market and it’s important that you ensure that what your product offering is, or if it’s not right-on that you can vary it to meet the market requirements.

Paul Dibbayawan: I guess the most important reason to validate your product or your solution that you have for any market is the potential high costs that you would have if you get it wrong because the high cost, not only being financial, but I believe high costs in terms of your value proposition coming into that market. If you haven’t validated and you haven’t got it right it’s very difficult to come back to the second time.

Geraldine Schnauer: In terms of whether our range, our products, met the needs of the market, that was part of the discovery process really, and the research. And we learned as we did more of the research process that if, you know, the tastes, the flavours, the channel, were quite different from what we were used to. And one of the benefits of our business is that we have control over production, so we were able to modify and do custom blend, small batches, et cetera, which ended up being a key selling point for us in those markets.

Paul Dibbayawan: I think the key mistakes that exporters make with their value proposition is they come here with the view that it’s going to be the same as it is in New Zealand, and it’s not always the case. Either that’s one, or they don’t truly understand “What is it that is core that they need to keep and what is it that they’re prepared to compromise on?” And what that does is it means that, for example, humour does not necessarily translate exactly the same way as it would in New Zealand, as it does here, and so they lose the essence of what they’re trying to achieve.

Geraldine Schnauer: Two of the key benefits in talking to customers and going through the process was that we realised the points of difference for our business. One was the heritage story for us, being from New Zealand, operating since 1921, and also the fact that we could do batch blending, custom blend for people, and those two things ended up being key points of difference for us as a New Zealand business versus the competitors that we were facing in the market.

Paul Dibbayawan:  Be sure to know exactly what you want and be sure to do the right level of research that allows you to work out what’s going to work and what’s not going to work.

Exporter guide

Identify gaps in your strategy using the Export Plan template
  • I’m looking for help to start a new business in New Zealand

    If you’re new to business, or looking to start a new business, Business.govt.nz provides a great base of information and advice, including key compliance and regulatory information for running a business in New Zealand. 

    Check out their Getting Started section which includes guides to starting a business, how to research your market and competitors, choosing the right structure, creating a business plan, funding your business and much more. You can also contact the Business.govt.nz team via their freephone number - 0800 424 946.

    Business Mentors New Zealand provides a start-up mentoring service for people with a new business idea or looking to start a new business. This gives you six months of mentoring from an experienced businessperson, for a one-off registration fee. You can find out more about the Start-Up Business Mentoring Programme on their website.

    NZTE and Callaghan Innovation also work with economic development agencies around the country, which make up the Regional Business Partner (RBP) network. These agencies provide local support for businesses looking to grow, including the following: 

    • assessing your business and working with you to identify key needs 
    • helping you to write an action plan to help your business develop, grow and innovate 
    • identifying relevant training courses, advisors, information, and other services to help meet your specific needs. 
    • connect you with the local business community, industry networks and clusters
    • provide access to Capability Development vouchers
    • help you navigate the support you can get from Government agencies

    The RBP network is made up of these local Economic Development Agencies and Chambers of Commerce:

  • Who can I talk to in my region about business training, advice and connections?

    The Regional Business Partner (RBP) network has specialist business advisors available to provide you with advice, information and connections to support your business. They can help you:

    • identify the next steps for your business
    • connect you with the local business community, industry networks and clusters
    • match you with a mentor from Business Mentors NZ
    • provide access to Capability Development vouchers
    • provide access to research and development (R&D) funding
    • help you navigate the support you can get from Government agencies.

    The RBP network is made up of these local Economic Development Agencies and Chamber of Commerce: 

  • I have a great innovation that I want to make a reality. Who can help me?
    Callaghan Innovation have advisors, scientists and engineers that can help you work through the steps required to make your idea a commercial reality.

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