A value proposition that changed the world


poster of diamonds are forever

Writing value propositions is the bread and butter of any sales person.  It is one of the quintessential tasks that you have to carry out, in any form of selling, be it consultative or simple.

And you have 2 ways to do this: either package something you already have OR build it out of nothing! The latter is what I want discuss – a value proposition that changed the world.

I am always on the lookout for ways to improve the way I can show value.  Be it through better presentation skills, public speaking, or storytelling.  With that in my mind, there’s always been one value proposition – simple – but that persists till today and has rocked (no pun intended) the world ever since.


A Diamond Lasts Forever!


A topic already written about and probably part of the marketing toolbox every student probably has read.  Yet one that deserves to be discussed as I find it terribly inspirational.

Setting the Scene

Prior to WW2 diamonds were said to account for only for about 10% of engagement rings.  They were seen as something only the rich could really afford.

Why spend a fortune on a single rock, that ultimately didn’t bring much ‘value’ to your life.  At times when you have other more pressing needs, like a house, car, vacation – sprinting 2 months wages for one small rock would seem ludicrous.

The DeBeers therfore had a problem.  Their customer base was not going to dramatically increase,  if the perception of their product was as such.  Add to that the increasing tension in Europe due to the oncoming war.

At the time they used a advertising company N.W Ayer in 1938 based in the U.S.  The challenge they had was how to address the perception of diamonds as a luxury item in the struggling economy?

Their game plan was to go via the emotional route:

“Create a situation where almost every person pledging marriage feels compelled to acquire a diamond engagement ring”

value proposition that changed the world


The result?  A 55% increase in sales in just over 4 years!  But the story doesn’t stop there. In 1947 the came up with the iconic 4 letter words:

A Diamonds Lasts Forever!  A phrase that went with the sentiment of marriage and relationship – a jewel – like marriage, should last forever!  The final step, in 1980’s…. how do you make a guy feel comfortable with forking out a small fortune for this minuscule clear rock?  The following idea:

“Isn’t two months’ salary a small price to pay for something that lasts forever?”

….et Voila!

And with this, the value proposition that changed the world.  Today it has become ingrained in every guy that a, diamond ring = engagement.  And that he should be ready to spend 2 months salary at minimum… or he risks to seem cheap.

The interesting lesson in this is, that a priori a diamond and marriage has nothing in common!  But by anchoring the value of a diamond – eternal & clear – with similar values of any worthy relationship, the N.W Ayer team was able to change that from absolutely nothing.  By creating a value proposition that has rippled through time, it has forever changed what once a seemingly expensive rock only for the wealthy….

….to something that any decent-living man should be buying for his partner as a symbol – something eternal & priceless.


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