What makes your product or service uniquely better than all others in the market? What is the precise problem your product or service solves? Who is your ideal customer? What are the specific benefits your customers will experience should they choose to do business with you? Why should customers do business with you, rather than a competitor? You must answer all these questions in your value proposition – i.e., one short, clear statement that explains precisely what your brand offers that no other competitor can, and how your product or service fulfills a need that no other company is able to fulfill.
The Importance of the Value Proposition
Arguably, your business’s value proposition is the single, most important element of your entire marketing messaging strategy. Why? Because for many customers, your value proposition is the first message they encounter when exploring your brand – and first impressions count. In addition, some studies estimate most Web visitors remain on a site for less than 15 seconds – so that’s how much time you have to capture their attention and convince them they’ve arrived at the right page, and what you are offering will solve their problem and add more value than any similar offerings.
Your value proposition must do it all – cleanly, clearly, concisely and quickly. As such, it must be straight-to-the-point and appeal to your potential customers’ strongest decision-making drivers. It also must be displayed prominently on your homepage, and be visible at all other major entry points to your site.
Many businesses struggle with their value proposition. Either they create a confusing, bland, trite or otherwise meaningless slogan filled with senseless buzzwords, or, if they create the correct message, then they don’t prominently display it on their homepage and other marketing assets. Sometimes, brands don’t even invest the time to determine what is their value proposition, losing prospects from the start.
How do you create a great value proposition, what is a good one and what mistakes should you avoid?
Structuring Your Value Proposition
Many of the best value propositions consist of fewer than 30 words – sometimes even fewer, though some will exceed that word count. Considering you must communicate relevancy (how your product/service solves a specific problem); value (how it delivers specific benefits); and differentiation (why your solution is better than the competition) – you must cram much into a very small statement, so every word must count.
While there’s no absolute set formula for creating a compelling value proposition, your goal at the very least is an attention-grabbing, memorable headline that communicates the delivered benefit to the customer, followed by a short sub-heading that expands on the headline’s explanation of delivered value. Sometimes, a short paragraph or bullet-pointed list can be included that highlights significant and differentiating details. A visual element is necessary, too – an image or short video that reinforces your core message.
Here are some examples to stimulate your thinking as a first step creating your value proposition.
Uber’s unique value proposition has always been clear – “Tap the app, get a ride.” What could be simpler? It certainly beats the often frustrating experience of ordering a taxi – searching for a phone number, giving your pick-up address to a dispatcher, explaining to your driver your destination and fumbling for cash.
With just six words, Uber’s headline is a plain and simple value proposition– it’s a much easier way to order a lift to where you want to go. Below the headline – just four short sentences expand on the value succinctly and eloquently. One tap and a car comes directly to you. Your driver already knows your destination. Payment is cashless.
Uber understands precisely why it's business model is superior to traditional taxi transportation. It also knows its target customers are app-savvy, often do not carry cash and demand convenience. Uber’s popularity is based on this simple premise, and why it has managed successfully to disrupt the taxi industry – and the company manages to include every single point into this short, sweet and simple value proposition.
Another good example is found at Unbounce. Here, the landing page software company first summarizes its core value proposition in three simple words: “Convert More Customers.” This speaks directly to many marketer’s key pain point – driving more conversions. Note, also, it focuses on the benefit – i.e., the value – rather than the product itself. This is crucial for building a great value proposition – your job is first and foremost to communicate how your customers will benefit from your product or service, not its details, features or functionality.
Below the headline is one short sentence that explains the offer (the ability to create custom landing pages), and how this expands on the value to be delivered – the ability to convert more visitors than any Website with no coding required. The last point, in particular, makes Unbounce’s value proposition very appealing – the perceived technical barrier to creating high-converting landing pages is eliminated as there is “no coding required.”
The image supports the entire message – “28% increase in conversions” – with an arrow pointing upwards, an example of a well-designed landing page, and even the inclusion of the word “free” on an unmissable CTA.
QuickSprout provides further examples of good value propositions on its “How to Write a Great Value Proposition” infographic.
Crafting Your Compelling Value Proposition
Note how all the value proposition examples focus on the benefits, not the product, service or any hype. The words “World’s Best (product)” doesn’t appear anywhere. Organizations are tempted to use that description when they have not crafted a well-defined value proposition. Instead, two of the examples above are clearly benefit statements – “the insights you need to optimize your marketing” and “Get organized. Grow Sales. Save time.”
When crafting your unique and compelling value proposition, the first step is to list all the benefits of your product or service for your customers. Then, highlight the most definitive or compelling ones and use these in your value proposition.
The next step is to link those benefits to value. Value is found in the problem your product or service solves for the customer – and how well it does it. First, you must define the problem. Ask yourself, “Is the problem unavoidable (such as the need to drive more conversions [Unbounce])?” “Is the problem urgent (such as the need to gain insights to optimize marketing [KISSmetrics])?” “Is the problem underserved (such as the need for a ‘smarter transportation option [Uber])?
If you answer “yes” to any or all of these questions, not only do you have a solution that will resonate with the market, but also you have the basis for a uniquely compelling value proposition.
The third and final step is to differentiate – i.e., tell the ideal customer why he or she should buy from you and not the competition. Highlight this by explaining your product offers the complete solution (as in Shopify’s “everything you need to sell everywhere”), or by incorporating some stats into either your copy or your image (as in Unbounce’s “28% increase in conversions”).
To reiterate, your value proposition should be easy to understand, demonstrates the specific benefits for the customer, differentiates your solution from the competition, avoids using hyperbole or buzzwords and, most importantly, communicates the actual value of your solution briefly (i.e., as few words) as possible.
A good value proposition can be the difference between your next customer and a Website visit bounce. Take the time to understand your business and what problem you solve and communicate how you stand apart from the competition with a killer value proposition.
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