Constructing a Value Proposition for Your Evidence-Based Programs


Those of us who have invested countless hours and extensive resources into the adoption and implementation of evidence-based programs (EBPs) are well-versed in the value of these programs. We know that EBPs:

  • Have undergone rigorous evaluation
  • Been published in peer-reviewed literature
  • Are proven to have significant positive impacts on participants
  • Have been broadly translated into community-based settings
  • Are replicable (i.e., have training and dissemination structures)

Bottom line, we know they work. However, expressing the value of programs in terms that are meaningful to potential partners, especially partners in health care settings, is not always so easy. We can’t march into their offices, rattle off the list of bullets above and expect them to respond with, “Great! Where do I sign?”

Developing your value proposition—for both your organization and your programs—requires an understanding of what outcomes are both important to your contracting partner and are likely to be achieved by partnering with your organization. This takes time, research and planning and can oftentimes evolve over time. The value proposition that is compelling to an accountable care organization, for example, may be very different than that for the community benefits department of a local hospital or for a managed care plan. Nevertheless, the effort you put into them is worth it.

Below, you’ll find some tips to help you begin developing your value proposition and defining your value, particularly for health care partners.

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1. Define your target audience

A value proposition is essentially a brief statement marketing your organization, what it does and why it’s better than any other at doing it. The first step in marketing a product (i.e., your organization) is to know who your customers are and define the audience as precisely as possible. For instance, if you are meeting with someone from the local hospital, your audience will be different if you are meeting with the CEO vs. the Director of Health Promotion Programs vs. the Social Work staff. Try your best to figure out what keeps them up at night, that way you can provide a much-needed solution (and some sleep!).

2. Know your competitors

What other organizations in your area are providing similar products (e.g., services, programs, etc.)? Know what makes your “products” special and what sets you apart. Be prepared to answer a question about your uniqueness, because sometimes you’ll be asked and you want to make sure to have the reasons ready to share.

3. Define the need for your “products”

Remember, an adequate value proposition might not be about dollars and cents. While it’s important to be able to discuss the cost of your programs, know that the return a partner is looking to achieve might not be monetary.

For example, health insurance plans know that there are many options in today’s more open insurance marketplace. In order to ensure that clients renew their policies each year, health plans must achieve high levels of customer satisfaction. Showing the satisfaction ratings of your programs and the self-reported health gains can create a compelling case to a health plan that is focused on keeping members, in addition to adding more members. Ultimately, this will result in a monetary reward for the health plan, but your focus doesn’t have to be on the cash, it can be on engagement and loyalty.

Start by writing down all the possible ways your products can help and whom they can help. You may also want to write down what your competitors’ products can do and determine why your products are better or where your special niche lies. Take some time to figure out how your product meets the needs of your target audience in a way that others can’t.

4. Dispel myths

What are some of the stereotypes about your organization or your type of organization? For example, maybe it’s an aging services provider that has always done great work in the community, but it is viewed as “soft” when it comes to evaluation and quality assurance. If you think there may be a chance that a negative (or squishy) stereotype exists about your agency, make sure you address this upfront.

5. Create a clear mission and message

Using your organization’s list of unique attributes and products (see #3) and your organization’s mission, you can start to mold that information into a clear message. Write several ideas down. Stew on them. Edit. Repeat. Rework it until you have one succinct sentence that will become your value proposition.

6. Bring it to life

Once you’ve honed in on your unique value proposition, the next step is to bring it to life. In other words, you need to figure out how to take that unique proposition and turn it into a marketing tool, one that you can use at networking functions, or one-on-one meetings with health care executives. Your value proposition should seep into (and out of!) every aspect of your organization. You can even gather testimonials from program participants and weave them into your proposition. Success stories can speak volumes.

You can’t create a value proposition alone either. You have to collaborate on it, test it, rework it again and test some more. You also will likely need to create more than one value proposition depending on the different audiences you interact with and the results you seek to achieve. Each time, run the value proposition by a small group of your target market to ensure it resonates.