Posted: Thu 17th Sep 2020
You've got a product or service you have absolute confidence in. But how do you communicate this to potential customers?
The answer lies in the value proposition: a few sentences that possess huge persuasive power.
What is a value proposition, and why do you need it?
A value proposition doesn't simply describe a business's product (or service); it explains, very succinctly, why it's unique - how it tackles a specific customer pain point, for example, or why it stands head and shoulders above competitors' offerings.
Essentially, a value proposition gives prospective customers a tangible reason to buy from you. When they're done right, they work spectacularly well.
Value propositions for start-ups and small businesses: why they're so important
Large companies have the luxury of being known. Start-ups and small businesses, by and large, don't. They need to work harder to a) get noticed and b) resonate with potential customers.
And while you might have an interesting back story, and an equally interesting product, the cold, hard truth is that customers have tiny attention spans. They need to know, right from the off, what's in it for them - which is where the value proposition comes in.
How to write a value proposition: top five tips
Identify your product's benefits. What makes it unique? What gives it such potential? Land on functional (e.g. easy to use) and emotional benefits (e.g. saves you time and money).
Write for real humans. Use plain English - without being bland. Avoid jargon. Your value proposition needs to be understood, so speak the customer's language.
Tap into the readers' emotions. Relate to them as potential customers. Make them feel excited - that your product or service can help them solve or achieve something.
Make it strong enough to create a buzz. This has added importance for start-ups and small businesses. Could your value proposition spark word-of-mouth referrals (like the three examples below almost certainly do)?
Test what works across different media and touchpoints. If conversion rates are disappointing, it might be time for a rethink…
…which, sadly, is almost certainly inevitable. Why? Because few businesses get their value propositions right first time (and even if they do, things change - customer needs, new competitors, perhaps even your own product).
Take leading marketing automation platform Marketo, for example. Theirs used to be Revenue-focused marketing automation & sales effectiveness solutions unleash collaboration throughout the revenue cycle. Not exactly written for real people, right?
Fortunately, it's since changed to Build brand. Drive revenue. Prove impact. The world's leading engagement platform for the modern marketer.
How long does a value proposition need to be?
There's no hard-and-fast rule, but it's worth trying to write a headline, a supporting subheading or paragraph, and three bullet points listing your product or service's key features and benefits.
Online travel agent TravelLocal does this well:
A better way to book your perfect holiday
_Tailor-made by trusted local travel agents
At TravelLocal, we believe the greatest holidays take local know-how. The kind you get from actually living somewhere.
That's why we connect you with the best local travel agents based in your destination. They create trips tailor-made just for you.
And because it's a TravelLocal holiday, you have the reassurance of 100% financial protection and 24/7 support._
A slight variation comes from east London coffee roastery Perky Blenders, whose super-impactful value proposition melds the supporting paragraph and bullet points:
Coffee at home
Coffees to suit all tastes.
We grind it how you like it.
Great customer service.
A further noteworthy example belongs to parking app JustPark, whose solution to a particular pain point is articulated using a blend of functional and emotional benefits:
Find parking in seconds
_Choose from millions of available spaces, or reserve your space in advance. Join over 3.5 million drivers enjoying easy parking.
Choose from millions of spaces across the UK
Find your best option for every car journey
Peace of mind
View information on availability, price and restrictions
Reserve in advance at over 45,000+ locations
Pay for JustPark spaces via the app or website
Follow easy directions and access instructions_
Where should value propositions be used?
First and foremost: your website. Make it front and centre. It's designed to be shared with customers directly, so roll it out across any other marketing and advertising channels, too.
What's the difference between a value proposition and a tagline?
A value proposition explains, in relative detail, how your product service is relevant, why it's valuable, and how it's different from what else is out there.
A tagline, by contrast, is a catchy phrase associated with a brand - L'Oréal's Because we're worth it, or Nike's Just do it. In other words, a brand accessory.
That's not to say taglines can't articulate elements of the value proposition - Airbnb's Belong anywhere being a stand-out example.