What is the value proposition?
A value proposition is a clear statement about why your target customer should buy what you are offering.
Value proposition guides the buyer from problem to solution (i.e., it positions your value).
When writing value propositions, keep in mind that they answer a question and that this question is something buyers care deeply about. The best value propositions answer the most critical questions buyers have: Can I trust you? How will my life be better when I buy this product or service? What’s in it for me? Understand these points and writing value propositions can become much more accessible. For example, if you’re selling wine glasses, the value proposition guide might be, “Our wine glasses are beautifully crafted by hand using traditional methods.”
Where Do Strong Value Proposition Come From?
The value proposition typically begins with an insight or epiphany about the problems buyers are experiencing and the value your business will provide them. It then describes how that value is delivered to the market through a product, service, or other offerings. The value proposition is designed for your customers’ ears—it should be in their language, not yours. You want it to resonate with them. If you can’t make it clear why someone would buy what you have to offer—or if you’re struggling to find an answer that hits home for buyers—you haven’t dug deeply enough into their needs.
You might start copywriting value propositions by writing down all of your company’s value promises and matching each commitment with one or more value propositions. Or you might try registering value propositions for each one of your customers, using a persona as a starting point. Here are the value proposition examples from Zappos:
The fragrance is the value proposition guiding perfume sales; on Zappos, it assumes the following value proposition structure: “We offer premium fragrances at discount prices because our low overhead allows us to pass along savings to our customers.” This value proposition guides visitors who arrive on Zappos’ homepage and want to buy perfume. Thus, the company provides the distinct customer value (perfume at discount prices) that sets it apart from competitors.
What Are Some Strategies For Creating Great Value Proposition?
The best value propositions do not focus on price or what your value proposition does for the visitor, but instead on what it will do for him. Thus, they contain value-laden words and phrases that describe tangible benefits: “coffee with less acid,” “a better way to monitor heart health,” or “new technology allows you to see farther.”
When Writing Value Propositions, Remember:
Share value before features. Focus on why your weight is worth having. Use mind mapping software to brainstorm value propositions by looking at products through a customer’s eyes. This technique encourages value creation based on an outside-in perspective instead of using traditional features-and-benefits roadmaps and documents that begin with an internal view of how customers use a product; this leads to the dreaded “me too” product cycle.
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Find value potential in customers’ unmet needs.
Your value proposition starts with an issue your customer has but can’t solve. People don’t buy because they want a product or service; they believe in solving specific problems and minimize future ones. So if you know that buyers value what you have to offer, find out how those features meet their needs. Next, find ways to validate these assumptions by asking people why they are doing something, what they hope to accomplish and what value your offering can deliver. Listen carefully as people describe their experiences (and failures) so you can understand where your weight is made most evident. Then leverage this information when copywriting value propositions for different market segments (e.g., eCommerce shoppers, small business owners, dinner party hosts).
Talk value, value propositions, value-laden language, and value stories all the time.
Your value’s value only becomes apparent when you explain it and share the story of how you deliver it to customers. As a result, your entire organization should be energized by the value proposition because everyone from sales and finance to marketing and fulfillment reinforces it. All employees need to understand that what they do every day helps fulfill this value promise—and supports its ongoing relevance to buyers.
The value proposition should always guide product line decisions.
However, just as a great value proposition shows individual product development (as we saw in Zappos’ perfume example above), an overarching value proposition can also help direct overall business strategy by identifying “headline level value propositions” that tie value to market segments.
Remember, value-laden words and phrases like “dream,” “hope,” “opportunity,” “possibility,” and the like help potential buyers understand your value proposition. When copywriting value propositions, be sure to include value statements in the document’s title (for example, the value proposition for how Zappos sells perfume is: We offer premium fragrances at discount prices because our low overhead allows us to pass along savings to our customers). You can also tell immediately if a value proposition is relevant by asking questions:
Does this statement make sense?
Are we doing something more significant here?
This process forces you into action; it should not remain conceptual or theoretical.
Value propositions also provide value by inspiring and motivating.
Your value should be something worth talking about, thinking about, working toward, and remembering—all of which become easier when a value proposition is communicated through value-laden language that both value creators (your team) and value consumers (your customers) can understand.
Write Value Propositions In Customer-Centric Terms.
Communicate the value your product or service delivers in benefit terms that are understandable to buyers and their pain points; don’t write in technical jargon. The more you focus on how customers will use your value, the clearer it becomes for everyone to create value. Plus, this approach puts us squarely in our customers’ shoes, mainly if we take time to understand what they care about most: people don’t pay for value; they value.
As we saw with the value proposition for Zappos’ perfume example on page 7, writing value propositions in customer-centric terms is vital because value stems from delivering what buyers value. So when you think about creating value, ask yourself: What does the customer already know? What does she care about and want to hear more about? What information will help me create value that makes sense to her? This process encourages ongoing discovery of how value can be delivered most effectively—and helps keep your entire organization focused on what matters most: meeting customers’ needs and solving their problems.
Make Sure Your Value Prop Resonates.
The best way to ensure that a value proposition resonates is to align value creators (people who create value) with value consumers (people who value deals). This opens the way for powerful value creation. And, as we saw earlier, value propositions are easier to understand if they are written in customer-centric terms—in other words, always use language that customers will find valuable and relevant.
In creating value propositions—and delivering them to customers—organizations get better at what they do by striving for greater alignment on value creation around a standard set of goals and objectives. In Zappos’ case, any potential buyer can quickly see that it’s about helping customers find great values; it’s not about making money directly from sales or profits. That’s where the goal of gaining share comes into play: only by selling value in the most efficient and effective ways will Zappos earn a more significant percentage of a customer’s value wallet.
The customer value proposition for Zappos’ perfume offers customers value by providing them quality goods that are high-end but discounted, as well as providing value to value creators by inspiring them to work smarter with campaigns like “We Love Rewards” (www.zappos.com/we-love-rewards) that rewards salespeople who sell more than $600 worth of merchandise a month with half off their purchases on the last day of each month. Both sides benefit because the value is created from working toward the same goal: rewarding customers for valuing Zappos and inspiring its team members to make even better value in their value-creation process.
Articulate value in terms of value creation. In business, value is created by solving problems and delivering value (in customer-centric terms). To be clear: value is never about making money directly from sales or profits. (Don’t confuse profit with value!) Instead, value is a reward for creating value that meets customers’ needs and solves their problems. If you’re selling something, your goal should be to create value in a way that will make sense to the buyer—and help him feel good about spending his hard-earned dollars on what you offer.
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If you’re unsure where to start when it comes time to write a value proposition, ask yourself this critical question: What’s my key differentiator?
If you’re still unsure, just ask yourself: What problems do customers care about and want to solve? How am I going to make them feel better—happier, fulfilled? And how will they value their experience with me and the value I offer in the process?