Your value proposition determines if people will bother reading about your product or close the page.
If you get it right, sales can skyrocket. Get it wrong, and you’ll wonder why all that traffic isn’t converting into sales.
The less known your company is, the more you need to work on and perfect your value proposition. Does Pepsi or Coke need a value proposition? Probably not.
Does Little Guy Joe who just got into online marketing need a value proposition? He sure does if he wants to make sales.
So what is a value proposition anyway?
Not wanting to rely solely on my memory, I did some research, and this is what I found to be something of a consensus of what a value proposition should be:
It’s your promise of value to be delivered to the customer. And it’s the #1 reason your prospect should buy from YOU.
A great value proposition incorporates one or more of these qualities:
- Explaining how your product is going to solve your customer’s problem, or how it’s going to improve your customer’s situation. (This is called relevancy)
- States specific benefits your product delivers (This is quantified value)
- Tells your customer why they should buy from you instead of your competition (This is unique differentiation)
But I think we need more clarification. In doing my research, I also found that a great value proposition…
- Targets a specific market
- Focuses on quality, cost or speed, or a combination of two of those
- Clarifies what the company or product does not do
Your value proposition should be the first thing visitors see on your home page. Plus, you’ll want to place it on all entry points to your site as well.
People need to be able to read it and immediately understand it. Which is to say, corporate gibberish created by a committee of eggheads isn’t going to cut it.
For example, if I tell you that my value proposition is:
“Revenue-focused automated marketing and sales closing solutions unleashed through collaboration throughout the revenue cycle”
I’m guessing you’re going to be bewildered. Or you’re falling asleep. Or you’re confused as can be.
And there’s no need to be redundant. For example:
Online Billing and Invoicing Software
Invoice Dude is an online billing software specially designed for small and medium businesses. Thousands of businesses and individuals trust us for their invoicing!
This tries to appeal to too many people – small businesses, medium businesses and individuals.
There is no differentiation from other online billing and invoicing software.
In addition, it says ‘thousands of businesses,’ yet offers no proof. Stating an actual number such as 12,549 would be a great help, and it could be updated automatically or manually on a daily or weekly basis.
Plus, I don’t know about you, but this entire value proposition puts me to sleep.
And with a name like Invoice Dude, they could have done soooo much better.
What a value proposition is NOT
It’s not a catchphrase or a slogan.
“Coke, it’s the real thing” and “L’Oreal, because you’re worth it” are slogans, not value propositions.
It’s also not a positioning statement.
“America’s #1 bandage brand, heals the wound fast, heals the hurt faster” is a positioning statement.
These are better than nothing, but they’re not what we’re striving for.
Calling your product the ‘real thing’ doesn’t show one benefit or reason why we should buy it over the competition.
Because you’re worth it doesn’t tell us anything – it just sounds good. And expensive.
Being #1 doesn’t make me want to buy your product, either.
These are all examples of slogans, not value propositions:
- Like sleeping on a cloud (Sealy)
- Milk from contented cows (Carnation)
- Save Money, Live Better (Wal-Mart)
- I’m lovin’ it (McDonalds)
- When you care enough to send the very best (Hallmark)
- Just Do It (Nike)
- Finger Lickin’ Good (KFC)
- Have it your way (Burger King)
- Melts in your mouth, not in your hands (M&M)
- The happiest place on earth (Disney World)
- The best a man can get (Gillette)
- Betcha can’t eat just one (Lays)
- Think outside the bun (Taco Bell)
- “Koo Koo for Cocoa Puffs”
- “Snap! Crackle! Pop!” (Rice Krispies)
- “Are you a Cadbury’s fruit and nut case?”
- “Keep Walking” (Johnny Walker Whiskey)
- “Wii would like to play.”
- “I’d rather die of thirst than drink from the cup of mediocrity.” (Stella Artois)
- “We don’t charge an arm and a leg. We want tows.” (From a towing company)
- “Yesterday’s meals on wheels” (From a septic tank)
- “We repair what your husband fixed.” (From a plumber’s truck)
Value proposition components
A value proposition is usually longer than a slogan.
In fact, it can have a headline, a sub-headline, one short paragraph of text and possibly bullet points.
And it might even include a visual, such as a photo, graphics or hero shot.
There is no one correct way to build your value statement, nor is there only one possibility. This is something you’re going to have to think about for awhile.
You make notes, try things, think about it, tweak it, ask opinions and tweak it some more.
Headline: This is usually the big end benefit you’re offering your customers, stated in one clear, short sentence. You might mention the product, the customer or both. This is where you grab attention, because if you don’t, then you’ve already lost a fair share of your prospects.
Sub-headline: This is a specific explanation of what your product does, who the ideal customer is and why your product is useful.
One short paragraph: This can be instead of or in addition to a sub-headline, and serves the same purpose as the sub-headline above.
3 bullet points: These are the key benefits or features. Notice we said three, not unlimited. You may or may not need bullets, but if you do, keep them short and punchy.
Visual: Images always communicate faster and generally better than words. You might show the product, the happy customer or an image that reinforces your message.
How to write your value proposition
This takes time to get it just right. In the beginning, do the best you can, and then adjust it along the way.
There is no reason to delay starting or growing your business just because you don’t have the perfect value statement yet.
A good value statement is better than no value statement, and in time you can make it great.
Start out by answering these questions:
- What’s your product or service?
- What is the BIG end-benefit of using it?
- Who is your ideal target customer?
- What makes your offer unique?
- How is your product different from anything else available?
NOTE: If you can’t answer why your product is unique or different, then you might want to work on the product itself. Selling a ‘me too’ product that is identical to what’s already being offered can be difficult UNLESS you already have a well-known brand.
Once you have your first draft of your value statement, ask yourself these questions:
- Is it clear and easy to understand?
- Does it communicate concrete benefit(s)?
- Will a customer know exactly what result they will get from using your product?
- Does it say how it’s different or better than the competition?
- Does it avoid hype? (amazing, fantastic, best ever)
- Does it avoid business jargon? (revenue generated resource allocation blah blah blah)
- Can your ideal prospect read it and understand it in a few seconds?
If someone is shopping around, then they’re likely to check out 4 or 5 different options before deciding.
By having your value proposition at the top of your first page, you can easily stand apart from all competitors.
Research shows that visitors notice value propositions faster when they have more text.
Visitors were also able to describe more product advantages when there were more to read about in the value proposition.
And readers tend to prefer bullet points – they’re easier to understand and remember.
Examples of great value propositions
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Value proposition boosters
Sometimes it’s difficult to find ways to differentiate yourself from your competition, so you might try adding one or more of these to your offer:
- Free shipping
- Fast or next day shipping
- Free trial
- Free setup or installation
- Free bonus
- No long-term contracts or payments
- A very clear money back guarantee
- A better than money-back guarantee
- A discounted price
- One-on-one personal help
Remember, you don’t need to hit your value proposition out of the park on the first try. But you do need to build one and use it.
Tests show that having the right value proposition can have an immediate effect on your sales, sometimes even doubling or tripling conversions.
Of course, it’s going to depend on your product, your niche, your customers and even your competition.
And most of all, it will depend on how well you craft your value proposition.
One more thing – an added beauty of having a great value proposition is it clarifies in your own mind what it is that you are truly doing for your customers.
It actually makes your job easier, in that you are no longer trying to be a jack of all trades, or trying to make your product fit everyone.
The clarity your value proposition brings can also bring you peace of mind and a better ability to grow your business big, strong and fast.