Your value proposition is one of the most important elements of your brand. It’s how you pique someone’s interest, communicate who you are, and entice them to work with you—or, at the very least, learn more about you. For many brands, crafting a strong value proposition is a challenge, particularly if you try to tackle too much at one time.
If you’re scheduling a single brainstorm with the expectation that you’ll emerge with a perfectly crafted value prop, you’re likely to leave frustrated and burnt out. (We know this firsthand.) It’s a lot easier (and more productive) to break the process down step by step, and we’ve done it for you.
Here, we cover everything you need to know about creating a great value prop, including some fascinating research and inspiring examples to show you how it’s done. Let’s dive in.
What Is a Value Proposition?
A value prop is a succinct explanation of both the functional and emotional benefits your product or service provides to customers. It’s not just who you are and what you do differently (aka your positioning); it’s also how you solve their problem and why they should choose you over the competition.
Putting your value proposition front and center is crucial for successful marketing. It’s what you should lead with on your site, and it’s what all other messaging should support and reinforce.
What Makes a Good Value Proposition?
A strong value prop needs a strong hook. It needs to communicate your brand’s what and why in a way that:
- Speaks to your audience
- Is clear and concise
- Communicates a brand promise
- Is descriptive
How to Create a Value Proposition
To help you avoid some of the most common stumbling blocks when coming up with a strong value proposition, we’ve created an intuitive process that helps you create and vet a value prop with less stress. Here’s how.
1) Clarify Your Core Identity
More often than not, when a brand struggles to articulate their messaging, it’s because they don’t have a strong core identity (vision, mission, and values). If you want to communicate effectively, you need to identify who you are and why you’re in business in the first place—and that is encapsulated in your core identity. If you haven’t done it already, document your:
- Vision: Why your company exists
- Mission: What your company does
- Values: How you do what you do
This simple exercise will help you approach your value prop with more clarity and a stronger sense of identity.
2) Complete a Competitive Analysis
If you want to stand out, your value prop needs to pull people to you—and away from your competition. To do this effectively, you need to communicate how and why you’re different, which is why a competitive analysis is vital. It helps you truly “see” where you stand compared to the competition, specifically how you’re positioned in the market. It also gives you valuable insight into how other brands are marketing themselves so that you can differentiate yourself.
If you haven’t done one already, follow our guide to do an analysis in 5 steps. (It also includes a handy template to help you identify your competitors’ brand messaging.)
3) Create Personas
Your value prop isn’t written for you. It’s written for the people you want to do business with. Therefore, it’s crucial that it speak to them and not at them (a very common problem with weak value propositions). It should also use the language and voice they connect to.
To better tailor your value prop, create personas that represent your target customer. Personas identify demographic and psychographic info that gives you insight into who these people are, what they care about, and how to communicate with them.
Luckily, this exercise doesn’t have to take a time. Try this simple guide to create personas in under an hour. Once you start to work on your value prop, you can use these personas to vet how impactful it is.
4) Iterate Your Value Prop
Up to this point, you’ve been absorbing the information you need to help you effectively articulate your value prop. Now you actually dive in. This is the fun and challenging part. To start, simply brainstorm all the benefits you can think of, including:
- Functional: For example, if your software automates marketing emails, your functional benefits might be something like automation and an easy-to-use interface.
- Emotional: Your emotional benefits might be that it saves time, eliminates confusion, and helps you build a stronger relationship with customers.
Once you have those, identify the most appealing, relevant, and unique points of differentiation. Those will be the elements to lead with. Try to articulate the most simple version of your prop first, then you can refine or expand. We find Steve Blank’s XYZ template to be helpful here:
It’s a simple exercise, but it helps distil your thinking. A few additional tips:
- Think of your target customer and the problem you’re solving. If you were suffering and seeking a solution, what would you want to hear from your savior (aka your brand)?
- Don’t get too fancy. Your language doesn’t have to be frilly; it just has to be impactful. It’s better to err on the side of directness and simplicity than confuse your reader with fancy language.
- Translate it into your brand voice. There’s a fine line between simplicity and generic corporate speak. If your value prop headline could work for any of your competitors, iterate a bit more. You want your personality to shine through immediately.
Once you know what you’re trying to say, you can experiment with the most impactful format.
4) Perfect the Presentation
There isn’t a single rule for how you format your value prop. It may be two sentences. It may be a headline, blurb, and a few bullets. It’s important that you communicate succinctly, but you always want it to be impactful.
That said, your website homepage is where your value prop should live, so it’s important to consider how your viewer will encounter it. Recent research provides a few interesting insights about how you might tailor your presentation online.
In 2017 the CXL Institute ran an interesting study to test how different value prop presentations affect a viewer’s experience. Using eye-tracking and survey tools, they tested four different formats, tweaking image placement and the amount of text that appeared.
Image courtesy CXL Institute
The results revealed a few surprising things:
- More text got more attention. When text took up more space, users noticed it more quickly.
- More text took more time. When text took up more space, users spent longer reading it.
- More info means more recall. The more details included, the better users could remember the purpose of the service. Similarly, when more services were listed, they could recall more services.
- Bulleted lists were better. Users preferred text design with a few bulleted items.
Now, although the amount of information played a role, that doesn’t mean that you need to write a novel-length value prop. The placement and design of the text made it a more prominent element on the page, which is an aesthetic choice. The real takeaway here is that the more info you can communicate and the clearer your message, the more it can hook a reader’s interest.
It’s also increasingly clear that design plays a significant role in how a value prop appears. Research shows that headlines, subheads, copy, and bullet points can help readers absorb a value prop more effectively—and lead to increased conversions.
It starts with the headline. As you can see, their original headline wasn’t exactly thrilling. “Comnio helps consumers get superior customer service—easily, effectively, and for free!”
Sure, it describes what they do. But it doesn’t communicate the why, which is the emotional hook, and it doesn’t feel very personal. To make it more impactful, Comnio identified the major emotional benefit and used the second person “you” to speak directly to the reader.
“We deal with customer service, so you never have to.”
That simple, punchy phrase draws readers in to find out how Comnio does that. Three simple supporting subheads highlight the functional benefits, along with a clean image and intuitive hierarchy, giving the reader all the info they need.
These simple, subtle changes make for a value prop that makes a big impact on the viewer—and the brand’s bottom line.
5 Awesome Value Proposition Examples From Smart Brands
No matter your brand or industry, you can find a compelling way to communicate your value prop. Check out some of our favorite examples from around the web to see how it’s done.
MailChimp is a marketing automation platform that always nails their messaging, whether it’s their value prop or their clever annual report. Site visitors are greeted with a clean, simple homepage that puts the brand’s value prop front and center. They lead with the “why” up top with their “Build Your Brand. Sell More Stuff” headline. It’s both a benefit and an empowering call to action, followed by a simple, succinct explanation of functional benefits.
The particular genius comes with the line “It’s like a second brain that helps millions of customers—from small e-commerce shops to big online retailers—find their audience, engage their customers, and build their brand.” The phrase “second brain” is a perfect image that embodies what they do and who they strive to be.
Groove help desk software is a great example of an incredibly simple, straightforward value proposition. We know the “what” from first glance (“Simple Help Desk Software), followed by the “why” (“Delight your online customers with awesome, personal support”). There’s no waxing poetic or trying to be overly clever here. They simply communicate their benefit and brand personality through the use of rich language, eliciting emotion through words like “delight” and “awesome.” It’s a simple touch that distills the essence of the brand into just two sentences.
You’re probably already familiar with this crowdfunding site, but what makes it different than Kickstarter? The tech-specific angle, which is what they lead with.
“Get the tech that gets people talking” is a powerful headline because it includes the imperative “get,” which compels you to take action, as well as the social angle with “the tech that gets people talking.” They expertly blend the “what” and “why” with impactful language that creates a sense of urgency and inspires you to join the cool kids on “the hunt for cool and clever innovations.”
Talkspace is a unique platform that provides online therapy to anyone, anywhere. This subject is already emotional, and with a service like this, it would be easy to stray into cheesy or overly sentimental territory, but instead their value proposition explains who they are and what they’re about in encouraging, aspirational language.
“Therapy For All” covers the “what,” while the emotional “why” is reinforced by “Join one million people who already feel happier.” The brilliance of this line is that it reveals both their large network and their success—a million happy people. That’s a very powerful statement and a perfect emotional hook for a strong value prop.
Third love knows exactly the type of woman they’re speaking to and what she needs. They lead with a direct address to their customer, “the modern woman,” and, because she’s short on time, they put their top three benefits front and center.
What is especially great about this value prop is the simple language that explains both the functional and emotional benefits these bras provide, particularly with regard to comfort, which is what matters most. With descriptions like “tagless labels, straps that won’t slip, and ultra-soft fabrics,” it’s easy to believe “you’ll forget you’re wearing a bra at all.”
Remember: A Strong Value Proposition Takes Time
Finding the right value prop is a process that takes patience and collaboration, so don’t get discouraged if you’re struggling a bit. (You can also try these tips for a better brainstorm or these exercises if you’re also struggling to find your brand voice.) We also suggest A/B testing to see what resonates most with people.
But if you’re overwhelmed and need a little extra help with your value prop or any branding challenges, we’d love to chat about it.