As a copywriter and social media guru, crafting a clear and value-focused message is essential for any online business. Have you ever visited a website where once you landed on it, you were unsure of where to look first? This type of confusion may simply be due to a poor website layout or design, but more often than not, it’s usually because the business wants to be everything to everyone.
It All Begins with Your Target Audience
Have you seen the business owner who not only sells high-end personal care products, but also sells aromatherapy candles and hair styling products? What’s their specialty? Who knows! By trying to offer everything to the consumer, you end up offering nothing truly unique. You muddy the message you’re trying to convey on your site and you end up getting a bounce rate that’s through the roof.
But I digress… enter …the value proposition!
What is a Value Proposition?
Many websites do not effectively communicate the one ultimate argument to buy from them vs. their competitors. A value proposition is not a promo, special offer, or tagline. It is the reason why a customer should develop a relationship with you. Why should someone buy from you over everyone else? You must communicate this in 20 words or less.
Remember: A value proposition is the reason why a customer should pick you over someone else.
I want to clarify upfront that a value proposition should not be confused with a slogan or tagline.
A slogan is used for campaigns or specific products. McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It” is a slogan. Does that slogan tell you anything specific about what McDonald’s has to offer you? No. This slogan was used in conjunction with other marketing efforts and a huge advertising campaign. But separate it out, and you have no clue what those three words mean.
Taglines stay with the company forever. Nike’s “Just Do It” is forever ingrained in our brains, and it doesn’t matter what product they’re promoting, that tagline stays with it.
Value Proposition – As stated before, this is the reason why I would choose you over a competitor. So in this example, why I would choose Apple vs. Microsoft.
Apple’s tagline is Think Differently. For their promotion of the MacBook Air, their slogan was Light Years Ahead. When you wanted to learn more about why this MacBook was the greatest thing since sliced bread, Apple took you to their information page, where their value proposition for the MacBook was presented:
Our goal with the MacBook was to do the impossible: engineer a full-size experience into the lightest and most compact Mac notebook ever.
The above is their value proposition (23 words!)
Why Do I Need One?
A strong value proposition will boost your website’s conversion rate and increase sales. It helps you to make the right work choices and focus on productive activities for your business while also helping your customers make the right purchasing choices. I generated $50,000 in revenue alone for just one of my clients after working with them to create a strong value proposition! Another client said they started getting so much business after I added a VP, they had to stop their marketing for now.
Quick Note: A strong value proposition will increase sales. I generated $50k in revenue alone shortly after adding a VP for my client!
Why Don’t Many Businesses Develop a Value Proposition?
As the saying goes, if it were easy, everyone would do it. Many businesses don’t develop a value proposition because they don’t think they need it, or they just assume that they already have a clear one in place. However, developing a strong value proposition means digging deep to determine what that one thing is, that “IT” factor, that you can offer and make you stand apart. Once you determine what that is, it will influence all of your marketing efforts.
Remember: A value proposition takes a lot of time and effort to develop!
Can you always develop a Value Proposition?
Unfortunately, no. Here’s an example. One of the toughest industries to develop a value proposition for is the Executive/Business Coaching industry. This is a HUGE industry and extremely competitive.
When these professionals come to us to develop their value proposition, more often than not, we end up having to write a very general one, or we let them know it doesn’t make sense to go through the process.
We worked with one client where we suggested to her to narrow her niche so she really had something unique to offer (e.g. target only divorced women who are seeking a second career) but she was worried that would be too narrow. On the contrary, this is a huge market and yet a very specific and unique audience to target.
My point is, don’t be afraid to narrow down your target audience.
How is a Value Proposition Developed?
Not overnight, I can tell you that. This is not to dissuade you by any means, but there’s a method to the madness and it takes focus and patience.
Step 1 – Comprehensive Questionnaire
The first step in developing a value proposition is to answer the following:
- What is the goal for your website?
- What needs do you meet in the community? What are your services/products? Why did you start your business?
- What are the current trends in your industry?
- What is your ideal customer and can you describe this in detail.
- Why should your ideal customer hire or buy from you rather than other options, including doing nothing? What makes you unique? If you ran a $1M dollar advertisement with only ONE shot at success, what would be your most important reason why I should choose you?
Each question should require a lot of thought and reflection about your business. Question #5 tends to be the greatest challenge for most clients.
I know this is hard to believe, but I can’t tell you how many times clients respond to this question with “Because we’re the best in the business!”
Um, does that tell me what value you offer with your product or service? No. Does it tell me why you’re unique? No. You have to really give these questions deep thought.
Step 2 – Evaluating Your Website & Your Competitors’
This is at minimum a truly enlightening step in the value proposition process. Reviewing your website along with your choice of competitors can be quite educational. With my clients, I’ll examine major selling points, overall website design, the main message that’s conveyed on the site and ease of use (user experience).
The main purpose of a competitive analysis is to avoid building your site based upon what your competitors are doing, but rather to find where competitors are lacking and determine how you excel or can be exclusive. Sometimes, marketing efforts fail because businesses copy each other or fail to differentiate.
Step 3 – Identifying the Top 5 Value Claims You Currently Offer to Your Ideal Client
Based on your questionnaire responses and competitor analysis, you can determine what “value” you can offer your customers. I’ll use these questions with my own clients to rate these value claims according to appeal and exclusivity based on marketer’s intuition (a rating of 1 to 5). If they have an appealing and exclusive enough offer, then a value proposition can be developed.
Step 4 – Proof Statements or Evidentials
Finally, you’ll need to provide proof that you can support your value proposition. What proof or evidence do you have that you can fulfill services, meet needs, or provide benefits?
For example, a recycling company may claim to help the environment, and the proof is that they recently updated all their transportation to include Hybrid trucks that ranked #1 for Best Hybrid SUVs according to US News. They may also have grown consistently for three years, from owning one truck to owning 12 which move hundreds of tons of junk daily.
Tips For if You Get Stuck
Trying to be all things to all people. Narrowing down your target audience (ideal client) is critical to a strong value proposition. When you try to appeal to too many groups of buyers, it can be limiting to the value proposition.
Tunnel Vision. You are the best asset for a successful project because you know the most about your company. However, you may also be so close to the project that it can hinder a successful outcome. A few of the major roadblocks that we encounter with site owners are:
- Limiting point of view (not open to new ideas or other ways of doing things or “copycatting” competitors)
- Too company-focused (such as wanting your company name plastered all over the website)
- Lack of eye for design (what you find aesthetically acceptable is not always appealing in general)
- Too bogged down in details to move forward (i.e. stuck in a “loop” that is not relevant to the big picture)
- Too technical (part of a website’s appeal is an easy to understand message)
To reiterate, a value proposition is not a catchy slogan, tagline, or headline. It answers the question, “If I am your ideal client, why should I choose you versus competitors?”.
To be most effective, your value proposition must have high appeal to the ideal client and high exclusivity to your company. It is the main reason customers begin a relationship with you.
If your value proposition is too general, then the copy will also be too general. Furthermore, you are less likely to stand out from the crowd.
I’ve found many of my clients expect a value proposition to be like a sales pitch or headline. Instead, a value proposition is written in everyday, matter-of-fact language. No fluff.
Now that you know what a value proposition is and how to develop one, it’s time to start working on your own! A strong value proposition will increase your sales and bring your business to success.
Feel free to leave a comment below or reach out to me if you need help creating one.
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