If you don’t have a value proposition, your product messaging needs to be refined.
Understanding and communicating your value to your customers succinctly shows that you have a firm grasp on the thing that makes your product more beneficial to your audience that they won’t find with your competitors.
Whether you are trying to construct a value proposition from scratch or updating what you currently have, this article will help you understand how to develop your strongest messaging.
Table of Contents
1. Value Propositions Explained
2. Understanding Value Propositions
3. Requirements of Your Value Proposition
4. Extra Considerations When Writing Your Value Proposition
5. Customer vs. Employee Value Proposition
6. What Makes a Strong Value Proposition?
7. How to Format Your Value Proposition
8. How to Write a Value Proposition
9. Boost Your Value Proposition
10. 19 Value Proposition Examples
11. How to Test Your Value Proposition
12. Final Thoughts
Value Propositions Explained
Your value proposition is a short, simple explanation of what your product can uniquely do for your customers.
The best value propositions tell your audience what the product does at a glance, and ideally, if they are the ideal type of person it was created for.
A value proposition is not a tagline, although sometimes companies put their tagline or slogan front and center where their value proposition should go.
Understanding Value Propositions
When your customers land on your website, landing page, or any other asset you’ve driven traffic to, you have mere seconds to capture their attention.
Your value proposition is essentially your short pitch to your target audience.
It should be immediately visible on the page and written so that even visitors that have no idea what your product is could understand the value provided.
If your customers have to search to figure out what it is you offer, you’re going to lose a lot of opportunities. There is far too much competition for most products that your customer can choose for you to cause friction by being unclear.
Requirements Of Your Value Proposition
A value proposition that doesn’t explicitly state your most valuable product benefit is not a value proposition.
Nike may be synonymous with “Just Do It,” but that isn’t a value proposition. If you weren’t familiar with the company, that statement wouldn’t give you any indication of what they do or why you should care.
Make sure you aren’t confusing your value statement with other creative marketing phrases that may be catchy but are not informative to persuasive.
Extra Considerations When Writing Your Value Proposition
While most value propositions are laid out similarly, you should test what works best for your audience.
Take into consideration how most of your traffic is going to view your value proposition. Will they be visiting on desktop or mobile? Is a longer value proposition than usual needed to make your biggest benefit clear?
There are always best practices, but every rule has an exception.
Don’t be afraid to test out a few variations of your value proposition and how it’s formatted.
Customer Vs. Employee Value Proposition
On another note, don’t think your value proposition is something you place across your marketing materials, and that’s it. Another way to utilize a value proposition is to attract talent.
When writing your value proposition for customers, you focus on what your product can do to help them. You use a value proposition to attract employees, though, by explaining how a job with your company would be rewarding to the employee.
You want to build a team that’s excited about your mission, and the only way to do this is to make hiring as much about what an employee gets as what your organization needs from them.
With your employee value proposition, you want to state the type of professional you are looking for (speak to your audience directly) and why picking your company is the best choice (your unique company benefits).
What Makes A Strong Value Proposition?
Some components of a strong value proposition are non-negotiable. Your value proposition will need to cover all the following points.
• It’s clear. Your messaging should be clear above everything else. Too often, people want to come up with clever marketing that sounds entertaining but doesn’t provide any insight into the company. Reserve your creativity for other areas and make your value proposition as easy to understand as you can.
• It explains your unique outcome. Your value proposition needs to tell your potential customer what outcome they can expect and how your product takes them from where they are to that outcome differently than their current solution.
• It differentiates you from your competitors. Chances are you have competitors offering something similar to your audience. Your value statement needs to distinguish your product from the competition to prevent them from choosing based solely on price (unless that’s your main selling point). That may be through features, delivery method, customer service, or any other way your product delivers more value.
• It isn’t full of hype or fanfare. We’ve all seen the websites with “The #1 Product in the Industry” splashed across a hero image on the homepage. They use it either as the value proposition or at least in the position that the value proposition should be in. That’s impressive social proof if your product has been recognized as #1, but it doesn’t explain your product’s actual value.
• It passes the 5-second test. The 5-second test is simple. When someone lands on your page, can they tell what you do and why it matters within 5-seconds? If not, go back to the drawing board and brainstorm better ways to explain your product’s value.
To test if your value proposition is strong enough, recruit people who aren’t familiar with your company to take a look at it. They will be able to tell you what parts they don’t understand objectively.
How To Format Your Value Proposition
Typically, your value proposition is presented through four key pieces.
1. Headline. Your headline is the main component of your value proposition. It is your one-sentence introduction to your unique outcome.
2. Sub-headline. Your sub-headline expands on the information you provided in the headline. You can show a little more personality and creativity here now that your customer has an idea of what you’re offering. If you haven’t named your audience in your headline, you can add it in your sub-headline.
3. 2-3 main product benefits. If you have room for a short 2-3 sentence paragraph (like in the header of a webpage), choose a few features that move your customer from problem to solution. This can help them understand how your product will work to improve trust and confidence.
4. Imagery. The images you choose to pair with your value proposition should not be an afterthought. The image should be strategically chosen to compliment your message. Don’t have your value proposition build up the experience of using your product and then use an image of your product packaging alongside it.
How To Write A Better Value Proposition
The key to crafting a better value proposition is research. You need to research your customers and competitors to develop a statement that isn’t already being used, and that will speak directly to your most desired prospects.
1. Determine your audience’s level of awareness.
To construct the best value proposition, you have to understand how aware your customers are of the problem and your product.
If they are only aware of their problem but not the solution or your product, your value proposition needs to focus on how they will get to the outcome.
On the other hand, if your target audience knows the solution they are looking for and are to the point of choosing a product, your value proposition will need to hone in on the nuances of what makes your product better.
A fundamental way to gauge the awareness of your audience is to consider 1) the traffic source they come from and 2) how much competition you have.
Are your customers finding you by Google searching your company name? Then they are solution and at least moderately product aware.
If you have several well-known competitors, your audience is likely more aware as well.
But suppose you have few competitors and are being found by your customer asking for recommendations on Facebook. In that case, you’ll need to focus less on your specific product and more on why your solution is THE solution to their problem first.
2. Determine the most immediate benefit.
You may be tempted to list every unique feature your product has, but features aren’t that appealing to your customers until they understand the overarching outcome of your product.
Compile a list of your features linked to the benefit (outcome) it provides to your customers.
Once you’re finished, decide which of those benefits solve the most immediate problem your customers have and build your value proposition around that.
Once your customer signs up and you deliver on your value proposition of solving their immediate need, you can move on to helping them understand the next benefit.
3. Dimensionalize the benefit to bring it to life.
Using language that triggers an emotion in your value proposition helps the customer get a feel for your product’s experience.
Try to replace at least one “boring” word (or add an extra word) in your value proposition with a word that will grab your customers’ attention and make them feel something.
4. Separate yourself from your competitors.
Your value proposition needs to make you stand out from your competition by highlighting a benefit that no one else is capitalizing on. Or at the very least framing it in a way that makes your customers see your product differently.
It will be challenging to find messaging that your competition isn’t using in some capacity, but sometimes their second or third-tier messages are a gold mine for your product.
5. Find out what your customers are saying.
Before you settle on your value proposition, you need to dig in and make sure your customers are asking for your offer.
If you’re sold that your value proposition for your silk pillowcase should be around its benefits for your skin, but your potential customers are Googling silk pillowcases that help with frizzy hair, then you need to rethink your positioning.
It’s much less difficult to sell a product to a customer when you’re speaking to what’s valuable to them.
6. Overcome obstacles in the way.
No matter what product you sell, there will be obstacles to selling it.
Once your customers know they have a problem and that your solution exists, the most common obstacles are:
• Trusting that your product will deliver what they need.
• Believing that it’s better than any other product available.
• Accepting that the value is greater than the price.
Your value proposition and supporting messaging will need to try to tackle each of these objections without alarming your customers.
7. Start with a formula.
If you have done all of the research and still feel stuck, here are some formulas that can help you get started.
First, let’s start with a simple formula made popular by Steve Blank.
He noticed that companies were having difficulty coming up with solid value propositions and created the below formula.
We help “audience” do “goal” by doing “our unique benefit”.
So, if you sell ergonomic keyboards, your value proposition might say:
“We help office professionals do more typing with less pain by improving the design of their keyboards.”
If someone lands on that website, they will immediately know it’s the place for office professionals to find a better keyboard.
Another option to help you distill your value is the one developed by the Harvard Business school.
They break the process into three questions:
1. Who are your customers?
2. What needs are you meeting for those customers?
3. What price for your product will provide enough value and profit opportunity for those customers?
While this isn’t a formula for writing your value proposition, it provides you the information you need to capture your customers’ attention and demonstrate why they should choose you.
8. Make your offer impossible to resist.
Even when your customer recognizes the value in what you’re offering, they’ll still be hesitant to purchase.
You need your value proposition (a.k.a. the product you are “offering”) to be too good to pass up.
In your main headline, you probably won’t be able to overcome your customers’ main objections without risking clarity. But you should boost your offer in the supporting copy.
Let’s look at some additions that can help make your offer irresistible to your audience.
Boost Your Value Proposition
Your value proposition may perform well on its own, but it might perform even better with a boost.
A few ways to help get your customers commit to making a purchase are:
• Free shipping
• Next-day shipping or 2-day
• Free returns
• Extended return period
• Free gift with purchase
• Free trial period
• Extended trial period
• Free setup
• Waived fees
• No long-term contracts
• Multiple licenses for the price of one (software)
• Money-back guarantee
• A discount
These can help to increase your customers’ confidence in your product and reduce the risks. You want to raise the value of your product and make the process of switching from their current solution easier.
If you want to take it one step further, you can combine multiple boosters to overcome each objection your prospects have.
You may be asking yourself how to know which of the options to choose. To answer this, you’ll need to complete research on both your customers and your competitors.
Go check out what your competitors are offering to their customers for choosing their product. Look through reviews and forums discussing your competitors and see if anyone mentions what finally won them over.
Also, look for what potential customers of you or your competitors have stated are making them hesitant to purchase. Often, you can find conversations between members of your target audience asking if a product is worth using or not. These conversations may include why the person isn’t sold yet.
Remember that these boosters will likely not be used in your value proposition headline but could be included in the subhead or explainer copy.
19 Value Proposition Examples
It’s easier to understand a concept with examples, so we’ve compiled the value propositions of 19 major companies for you to learn from.
Let’s look at the things they got right and what they could do a little better.
1. CAMPAIGN MONITOR
Campaign Monitor passes the 5-second test. They focus on clear messaging over trying to be clever, and their customers love them for it.
Their language focuses on building confidence that their software won’t make email marketing a difficult task.
Stripe truly does let you collect payments anywhere you do business on the internet. They are well established and know that their customers in their space are fully aware of what they need and are looking for the right product.
Though they are speaking to a broad audience (all businesses), they have proven that they serve everyone, so it works to build trust with the customer.
Interestingly, Uber’s value proposition isn’t targeted to their “customers.”
Uber knows that without independent drivers, they don’t have a business. They also know that their drivers typically sign up to make money quickly, and they speak to that desire. They also build confidence with their prospective drivers by letting them know Uber has the most active user base.
Slack understood that busy professionals needed a faster, more efficient way to keep up with their teams than email.
Their value proposition connects with their target audience’s desire to communicate in a familiar way and takes away the headache of tracking email chains with multiple senders.
Trello calls out their audience – teams – in their headline. They then use their supporting copy to further expand on their mechanisms for reaching the desired outcome.
To top it off, they add “it’s free” to their button as a booster. Well done, Trello!
The audience that Skillshare attracts are people looking to learn more and explore passions.
Skillshare uses only a headline as their value proposition copy, but the content directly under the headline allows customers to immediately jump in and start using the product.
Evernote might benefit by swapping the subhead and headline because the subhead explains the product’s value more clearly.
But either way, when a potential customer lands on this page they know what Evernote can do for them (and that it’s free).
Android has stiff competition, and they know it. They choose to go with a bold value proposition that no one else in their space uses.
Android taps into the human need for security to stand out. Using fear in your marketing can sometimes come off as slimy, but the way Android uses it works.
Thumbtack has copy that cuts right to the point with simple imagery that drives the message in.
The clean design around the value proposition (or lack thereof) helps to make it clear that Thumbtack is supposed to make finding what you need simple.
While the supporting copy could work to make Digit’s value proposition more clear, the headline hits on an urgent need for their customer base.
Digit’s use of the word “worry” helps customers identify why the solution would add value to their lives (they could stop worrying).
Square has become large enough that they can get away with a simple value proposition. It explains the outcome they can help businesses achieve – success.
Zapier might have the best value proposition on the list. The headline makes their product completely clear, and their supporting copy takes it a step further to explain how the product works paired with benefit to the user.
Unbounce is something you have to see to truly appreciate.
Instead of choosing only one value proposition, the webpage cycles through three similar statements to call out all of their main benefits.
If Gusto’s headline and first supporting sentence morphed into one statement, their value proposition would have more clarity.
HubSpot is an example of a product that offers several features, so they have a hard time making the outcome clear.
They could benefit from digging deeper into either who they serve or how their solution is better than the alternatives.
Zoom has adapted their value proposition to the current emotional state of their users.
Because Zoom has had explosive growth, they chose to focus on the emotional connection they help facilitate in place of the business focus they used previously.
Rev doesn’t try to over-hype their product or make their benefits fancy.
They know their customers are people who want to get work done efficiently and without unnecessary fluff. The value proposition perfectly speaks to their customers.
Proactiv has constructed a value proposition that 1) uses language that isn’t confusing and 2) makes their product seem like the most low-risk solution to the customer’s problem.
It’s ideal for the young crowd who is nervous about trying anything that could make their condition worse or is complicated and time-consuming.
Crazy Egg makes their value apparent, but they could do better at explaining how they deliver the value differently than their competitors.
The confidence-boosting social proof and free trial under the value proposition help strengthen it but don’t rely on those elements alone if you aren’t a well-known brand.
How To Test Your Value Proposition
At some point, the only thing left to do is put your value proposition out there and wait for feedback from your customers.
If you are looking to get feedback in a hurry, run your value proposition as part of your advertising.
Google and Facebook advertising will offer you the widest audience to test with, plus you could test slight messaging tweaks against one another and measure the results.
Ready to get help reaching your customers with your value proposition? We can help you develop a marketing plan across multiple platforms to attract and acquire new customers daily.
Now you know what job your value proposition needs to do and how to check to make sure it’s clear to your customers. If you feel stuck, you can gain inspiration from the list of examples provided.
You can always tweak your messaging as your product or audience becomes more refined if you need to.