Have you taken the time to find your value proposition?
If someone were to ask you to sum up your company’s competitive advantage in 10 seconds, would you succeed? If not, you may need to work on your value proposition.
A good value proposition succinctly articulates why customers should invest in particular goods and services, helping to drive conversions and ultimately generate growth. Despite their transformative potential, however, only 2.2% of value propositions are effective.
Coming up with a value proposition that truly resonates with your audiences takes time, effort, and a whole lot of marketing savvy. Fortunately, we’ve put together a quick guide to help you refine your writing style and come up with a concise and tantalizing value proposition.
3 Things a Value Proposition is NOT:
Value propositions are often conflated with other types of marketing tools such as slogans and taglines. To help you avoid common pitfalls, then, let’s start by examining what a value proposition is NOT:
1. A catchphrase
Slogans and catchphrases can be useful for branding purposes. However, they are primarily used to boost the reputation of a company rather than sell particular goods or services.
2. An incentive
Incentives are often used as short-term calls to action.
3. A positioning statement
A positioning statement is a kind of value proposition that distinguishes your company from other players in the market. However, value propositions can also include statements about specific products or initiatives.
Simple Definition of Your Value Proposition
What distinguishes a value proposition from a catchphrase or incentive is that it offers a clear statement about the lasting benefits of investing in your company’s offerings. As well as explaining how your product or service will address customers’ key concerns, a decent value proposition will inform your ideal customers of the quantified benefits they stand to gain from your company and why you represent a better option compared to competitors.
Typically, a value proposition is the first thing web visitors will see on your company homepage and other relevant online entry points. It will give potential customers a quick and informative overview of your organization’s unique selling points, encouraging them to find out more.
What does a value proposition look like?
Value propositions usually take the form of a block of large text at the top of a landing page. While there are no hard and fast rules to formatting your value proposition, most consist of the following elements:
- An attention-grabbing headline that tells customers how your company will improve their lives.
- A very short paragraph comprising two or three sentences that goes into greater depth about your offerings.
- An accompanying image that gets your point across very quickly. Examples could include an image that backs up your main message or a product photo.
- Short bullet points listing your company’s primary features or benefits.
It is also worth noting that customers are more likely to read your value proposition if it dominates a lot of space on the webpage. In this way, it is a good idea to use a relatively large and easily legible font.
What makes a good value proposition?
Writing a value proposition isn’t rocket science. However, there are a few general rules you need to know for your words to truly pack a punch. These include:
1. Avoid jargon
Try to write in the clearest language possible to ensure potential customers understand what you’re offering. Stuffing your value proposition full of industry buzzwords and confusing jargon is very likely to put people off reading the rest of your web content.
2. Offer concrete promises
Customers love to know precisely what they can expect from investing in your brand. Don’t be afraid to include facts or figures (provided you can back them up, of course).
3. Avoid exaggeration
Value propositions full of hyperbolic phrases such as “shocking results”, “best in the world”, or “you won’t believe your eyes” are likely to seed distrust in potential customers. As well as setting unrealistic expectations, this kind of language is commonly used in spam emails. In the long term, overusing superlatives and exaggerations could harm your brand’s reputation.
4. Keep it short
You don’t want to waste the time of valued potential clients. Save them time and effort by conveying as much information in the fewest number of words possible.
5. Hit the right tone
Try to adapt your language to suit your key demographic. If your primary customers are members of Generation Z, for example, you should avoid dry and formal language and try to incorporate a few trendy words.
If you’re feeling a little out of your depth, don’t just guess what tone to use. Instead, conduct comprehensive demographic research through interviews or surveys.
6. Be explicit about what makes your company the best
Don’t be shy about pointing out what makes your company superior to competitors. While boasting and direct comparisons should generally be avoided, a measured account of your unique selling points is likely to boost leads and conversions.
What are the benefits of a strong value proposition?
Some marketers are skeptical about the extent to which value propositions can impact the success of a company. After all, they’re just made up of a few boring old words, right? Wrong.
A well-written value proposition could end up reaping amazing results. Here are just a few benefits you can expect after crafting a compelling statement:
The quality and quantity of your leads may improve:
By targeting your ideal customers, a strong value proposition will help to drive quick conversions and improve profits.
Customers will quickly understand what you’re offering:
Web users often spend several minutes browsing a company website before they really understand what the business offers. This can be frustrating and time-consuming for the potential customer and, ultimately, reduce conversions. With an effective value proposition, however, you can build customer trust from the get-go.
It will differentiate you from competitors:
Standing out from the crowd can be difficult, even in niche markets. With a value proposition, you can boost your chances of getting noticed.
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Tips for writing a killer value proposition
Okay, it should be pretty obvious by now that a slick value proposition is a must-have for any growing company. Putting the metaphorical pen to paper can be tricky, however, particularly if you’re not a natural writer.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be a prize-winning author to create a value proposition that makes waves. Here are our top tips for success:
1. Start by researching your audience
You need to know precisely who you’re targeting before you write a value proposition. As such, you’ll need to spend time conducting some audience research beforehand. Here are a few questions to explore via surveys, web analytics, or customer interviews:
- What challenges do your audience members face and how can your company help address them?
- What demographic are you appealing to? Try to consider details such as the average audience member’s age, location, gender, socioeconomic background, education level, or occupation.
- What key values do your customers tend to hold?
- What motivates your average client?
Once you have gathered this information, try to create an ideal customer persona (or multiple personas, if applicable). This will help guide your writing.
2. Analyze your competitors
Next, you need to learn what sets your company apart from others. It’s no good simply assuming that your offerings are unique. To ensure your claims are legitimate and convincing, you must conduct some competitor research.
Fortunately, competitor research is a little easier than audience analysis, as it simply involves checking out other companies’ sites and marketing efforts. While browsing competitors’ sites and social media account, try to answer the following questions:
- What do your competitors fail to offer?
- How do you address these gaps?
- Why should these differences matter to your customers?
Once you have ascertained what factors make your company truly unique, remember to emphasize them in your value proposition.
3. Brainstorm with colleagues
You don’t have to write a value proposition alone. Schedule a meeting with your most creative marketing colleagues and test a few ideas out on each other. Sharing ideas in this way is likely to produce the best possible outcome.
4. Carry out a few tests
Have you come up with a sleek value proposition that you’re excited to unleash on the world? Fantastic news! But the work doesn’t stop there. Before you publish a brand-new value proposition, you must ensure it achieves its purpose. Here are a few simple tests to try:
- Give it to a few unbiased readers: You can’t simply rely on internal colleagues to produce an unbiased opinion of your efforts. They are likely to be strongly invested in your brand’s key message, after all. To ensure your value proposition is coherent and compelling to outsiders, source a few opinions from people totally unfamiliar with your offerings or branding. This will help you reach as many new customers as possible.
- Measure it against competitors’ value propositions: Line your value proposition up against those of other businesses and compare how attractive they appear. Anonymizing the brands responsible for each proposition and asking people to rank their effectiveness could help to reduce the risk of bias.
- A/B testing: A/B testing is a technique whereby marketers test the success of two web pages to ascertain which is more effective. In the context of value propositions, this could mean running tests on your landing pages and recording metrics such as conversions and engagement.
5. Make the final tweaks
Once you have compiled your testing data, you must act on it (if necessary). Is your proposition too long? Perhaps it is unmemorable or a little confusing for readers? Whatever the issue, make a few tweaks and test again. This may sound a little time-consuming, but it will pay off in the long run.
6. Add a few ‘boosters’ if necessary
Is your value proposition failing to convey all of the necessary information in a few short sentences? This is where ‘boosters’ come in. Boosters are USPs that can be added to the end of your value proposition or further toward the bottom of your homepage. Good examples may include:
- Cancel your subscription any time
- We offer a full money-back guarantee
- Fully customizable packages
- Free bonus item with purchase
- No setup fees
- Free, no-obligation quotes
- Free next-day shipping
The possibilities are endless and could convince a web browser to take the plunge and invest in your services. While ‘boosters’ may seem superfluous at first, these little perks could end up making a huge difference to your profits in the long term.
Examples of effective value propositions
If you’re in need of a little inspiration to help you develop the perfect value proposition, it’s worth checking out some effective examples. Here are some of our favorites:
Slack is a super-popular messaging and productivity platform that helps large teams collaborate on complicated projects. As you can see, the company’s future-oriented messaging communicates its ability to help businesses grow in one catchy proposition. By referring to their platform as a ‘virtual HQ’, the Slack team demonstrate their dependability and technological know-how. This is particularly important in a world where an increasing number of people are choosing to work remotely. It is also worth noting that the different font colors help to emphasize the company’s most valuable selling point.
SEMRush is a comprehensive tool for collecting valuable marketing insights and boosting your company’s online visibility. This value proposition gets straight to the point, emphasizing the organization’s ability to obtain measurable results, including content marketing stats, competitor information, and more. The ‘Start Now’ CTA adds a sense of urgency designed to drive conversions, while the site’s simple aesthetic demonstrates that SEMRush is confident in its ability to deliver results without the need for excessive marketing. An all-around triumph!
As well as offering stunning visuals, this value proposition from Stripe is succinct and clear. Immediately, visitors to the site can see that the company offers a payment infrastructure perfect for accepting and sending payments online. By emphasizing the fact that they work with startups and large enterprises, Stripe encourages all types of business owners to give the platform a try. The fact that the attendant visual depicts the platform’s simple interface may also reassure users of its user-friendly nature.
Value proposition templates
So, now you know what a killer value proposition looks like, it’s time to construct your own. One of the best ways to get the creative juices flowing is to follow a template. Here are a few foolproof guides to nailing your value proposition:
1. The Geoff Moore approach
Geoff Moore is an organizational theorist whose ideas surrounding value propositions have influenced many successful branding campaigns. Moore suggests that you use the following table to construct a concise sentence or two:
|FOR||[your ideal customer]|
|WHO||[a statement about how you will address their pain points]|
|OUR||[the name of your product or service]|
|IS||[the category your product falls under]|
|THAT||[how it will benefit the customer]|
Confused? Here’s an example: “For dog owners who struggle to feed their furry friends a healthy diet, our kibble is formulated with vitamin-rich vegetables that take the headache out of feeding time.”
Of course, this formula may produce slightly clunky sentences at times. Don’t worry – you can always finesse the final product using your fine editorial skills!
2. The Steve Blank approach
Steve Blank is an author and entrepreneur who has had much success in helping startups get off the ground. He developed a deceptively simple value proposition template for small businesses that focuses on developing loyal customers. Here it is: ‘We help [X] do [Y] by doing [Z].
While this template may look short, its simplicity is what makes it so effective. Take this example:
“We help marketing professionals drive sales with our unbeatably precise analytics software.”
The proposition gets straight to the point and could prove particularly useful for brands whose USPs are not always immediately obvious.
3. The Dave McClure approach
Dave McClure is a successful entrepreneur who designed a helpful template for those new to the world of value propositions. The rules are as follows:
|Use short and memorable language that tells customers what your company does, how you do it, and why you do it.|
|Use three keywords or phrases maximum, and no more than two sentences.|
|Avoid jargon at all costs.|
What are you waiting for? Get writing!
By now, you should have all of the information you need to start crafting a perfect value proposition. While you may not hit all the right notes at first, remember that practice makes perfect. Try to notice patterns in the success of your value propositions and don’t be afraid to think outside the box.
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Kathryn Lang believes it is simple, and as an award-winning author and natural-born hopesmith, she shares tips on how to find your why, pursue your purpose, and live a bold, intentional life – always with a dash of twisted encouragement.