A value proposition statement is more than just a business school buzzword.
It’s actually one of the most important keys to your success online.
With an effective value proposition, you tell your target customers exactly what they need to hear to get them wanting to do business with you… instead of anyone else.
Unfortunately, a lot of businesses get lost in the details. They either misunderstand the concept, what it takes to make it work, or a little bit of both.
Things don’t have to be so tough. Let’s break down why a value proposition statement is so crucial and what you can do to make yours resonate with your target customers in all the right ways.
Photo credit: Deathtostock
Why Value Propositions Are so Important
Failing to develop a winning value proposition limits your ability to succeed before you even begin.
Because your ability to create value for customers is distinct from their ability to understand that you could. They can’t read your mind. A confusing (or absent) value proposition statement just motivates them to turn to one of your competitors who does a better job with theirs.
Offering a product or service that delivers a lot of tangible value is just the first step. It’s how well you articulate that value online – through your value proposition statement – that has a huge effect on your conversions.
The best products or services available don’t always win out. Potential customers won’t spend the time trying to figure out how those businesses are relevant to their needs. Instead, they’ll just click over to a competitor’s website.
That’s where an effective value proposition comes in. It gives you a compelling way to get the right people’s attention and persuade them to stick around… even if they’ve never heard of you before.
What Is a Value Proposition Statement?
There’s a ton of confusion out there about what a “value proposition statement” means. Some businesses get swept up in it – to the point where they’re too overwhelmed to figure out how to create one that works.
A lot of this confusion comes from the fact that multiple definitions are available. Hubspot, an inbound marketing company, considers a value proposition as “the core of your competitive advantage.”
Here’s how Quicksprout defines a value proposition:
“A value proposition is a promise of vale to be delivered. It’s the main reason reason a prospect should buy from you (and not from your competitor.”
Finally, my personal favorite definition comes from marketing consultant Peter Sandeen:
“[A] strong value proposition is a believable collection of the most persuasive reasons your target customers should do what you’re hoping they will do.”
Marketing experts have many different spins on what a value proposition statement means. But there are key elements that overlap no matter which definition you favor.
A value proposition statement is similar to an “elevator pitch” you’d do in person. After targeting a good fit for a client or customer, you briefly make your case how you could help them and why you’re the best choice to do it. You hit on the most important selling points, discussing them in simple terms that target customers appreciate and understand.
Something important to point out here: a value proposition statement isn’t the same thing as a unique selling proposition. Some online businesses use the terms interchangeably. But the USP is more limited than the value proposition because it’s so focused on what makes your business different than your competitors. As you’ll see below, differentiation is just one component of an effective value proposition.
What Makes a Value Proposition Work?
No matter your industry, online visitors want to see a few things as soon as possible. Including these elements in your value proposition statement is a surefire way to boost your conversions:
1. Precise Targeting
Think about when you land on a website for the first time. Your brain is humming. You want to find out whether the content there is relevant to you as quickly as possible. That’s the easiest way to know if it’s time to pay attention… or click the “back” button on your web browser.
Who does your business serve?
The more targeted your ideal customer, the easier it is to create a killer value proposition statement. If you’re a freelance web designer and land on a website with a headline saying “Attention: freelance website designers,” you’ll know right away that you’re in the right place.
A lot of people use headlines just to grab attention. That definitely works. But headlines can also be great screening tools to separate your target customers from everyone else. The right people find out within seconds that your business is relevant to them, and everyone else moves along before investing any more time.
Take a look at how Munoz Law does this on their website:
See how that works? The target customer (in this case, entrepreneurs) is pinpointed right away. It’s a perfect way to convince them to slow down for a second and hear Munoz Law out.
2. Valuable Benefits
Just because something is relevant doesn’t mean it’s useful. That’s why effective value proposition statements don’t stop at honing in on the right people. They also give those people good reasons why they should keep engaging.
A good value proposition answers the question on all of your target customers’ minds:
“What can you do for me?”
Your product or service probably creates many valuable benefits. But your value proposition shouldn’t lay them out in a laundry list. Instead, it should capture the most important benefit or two in as clear and concise a way possible.
There’s often a breakdown between which benefits excite you the most and which benefits resonate strongest with your target customers. Focusing on the latter – and framing them in the natural language of your customers instead of an industry insider – will help you create a more effective value proposition.
Take a look how SoundCloud does this on their website:
In just a few lines of copy, SoundCloud conveys three compelling reasons why visitors should pay attention. SoundCloud users can find music they already love, discover new music, and connect with their favorite musicians directly. These are all great motivations for a music lover to stick around.
If you’ve honed in on your target audience and given them good reasons to pay attention, you’re well on your way to higher conversions.
But there’s one more question lingering on their minds:
“Why should I choose you instead of someone else?”
Providing that answer will take your value proposition statement to the next level. It will convince a lot more people to do business with you.
What makes you different from your competitors? Busy visitors will probably look at you and several other options – thanks to how easy it is to find information and comparison shop online – before making a decision. Presenting something that stands out gives them the justification they need to stop searching and finally make a decision.
If you don’t feel like your business model is unique, here are just a few ways how you could separate yourself from the pack:
- Better customer service
- Better guarantees and refund policies
- Faster service/order fulfillment
- Free shipping or other financial bonuses
- Lower price
- More customization options
- Shared causes or philosophy
Take a look how Toms distinguishes themselves in their website by advocating a cause:
They’re quick to point out that they aren’t your average shoe or clothing company. For every product a customer buys from Toms, the company helps a person in need. Framing their business like this helps them connect with charitable visitors and stand out from competitors instantly.
Note: just like with your benefits, what makes your business different should matter to your customers. It doesn’t have to mean much to you. Fortunately, it doesn’t take a lot to separate yourself. The most mundane difference might be all it takes to supercharge your value proposition and conversions.
One of the Most Important Investments You Can Make
A winning value proposition establishes three key things about you right away:
You’re relevant. You’re useful. And you’re different.
Armed with a way to articulate these things from the get go, you quickly separate yourself from competitors and persuade visitors to convert.
Creating a value proposition doesn’t have to be daunting. Do your best to include all the key elements in as little space as possible. But don’t let a quest for perfection slow you down. You can (and should!) test different value propositions as part of your broader conversion optimization strategy. This piece is one of your highest leverage items.
Start with confidence. You’ll continuously tweak and optimize your value proposition statements over time to convert more visitors. It’s one of the most important investments you can make in your business!