Properly creating and portraying your business values has always been important, but in the internet age, it’s imperative to maintain a loyal customer base. Consumers have a lot of choices when it comes to products and services, value propositions are one of the best ways to set your business apart and can be the difference between making or losing a sale.
To show the importance of a great value proposition, we’ll cover what it is, how to write one, and why it matters in this guide. You can also use the menu below to easily navigate to what you’re looking for.
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What is a value proposition?
A value proposition is a company’s elevator pitch of what they have to offer and how they differ from competitors.
You might also hear a value proposition referred to as a value prop, positioning statement, selling point, or a unique selling proposition. These are different ways of saying the same thing: a short and powerful statement that communicates why you’re the best choice.
You’re passionate about your business, which means you can probably think of a dozen different points and key benefits you want to incorporate. But strong value propositions are concise and impactful, getting straight to the point is both necessary and effective. For that reason, focus on these four factors:
- Who you serve: Let your ideal customer know you’re talking directly to them.
- The problem you solve: Tell your target customer exactly what pain point you address.
- How you solve it: This won’t be detailed in-depth, but it should give your customer insight into why you’re the right choice to solve that problem or meet a need they may have.
- Why your solution matters: Your customers care most about what your small business does for them, so you’ll need to point to a clear benefit they’ll experience.
Those are the main boxes that you need to check. We’ll talk about each of them in greater detail when we discuss how to write a value proposition later. For now, just keep this high-level overview in mind.
Value prop example
Here’s a great example of a value proposition in action. Shopify shows its ideal customer why they should trust the company while also including what it offers in a carefully crafted package:
“The platform commerce is built on. More than a million of the world’s most successful brands trust Shopify to sell, ship, and process payments anywhere.“
Why does it matter?
Crafting your own effective value proposition matters. Nailing down this messaging can lead to a number of benefits, including:
- Refined marketing strategy: Your value proposition acts as your compass as you refine all other marketing efforts. It’s a crucial part of your marketing strategy and will guide you as you create a cohesive and compelling marketing plan.
- Increased understanding: When done well, your value proposition gives your customers an immediate grasp of what your business does and why it’s relevant to them.
- Boosted sales: When you effectively communicate your value to your customers, they’re far more likely to make a purchase. Your value proposition should help increase conversions, close more sales, and improve your small business’s bottom line.
Ironing this out is more than just a formality to check off your list; it’s your primary selling point that lays the foundation as you market your small business.
Is a value proposition the same thing as a tagline?
Your unique value proposition and your brand tagline are two different things. Here’s the main difference:
- Value proposition: A more thorough explanation of the value you offer to your target customers.
- Nike’s value proposition: Nike delivers innovative products, experiences, and services to inspire athletes.
- Tagline: A catchy and short slogan that’s memorable but doesn’t capture your value.
- Nike’s tagline: Just do it.
Taglines are fun and punchy, but if you’re going to focus on one thing to start with, make it your business’s value proposition. As we mentioned earlier, that will guide you through various other marketing decisions, including your tagline.
How to write a value proposition: 4 steps to follow
With that groundwork in place, it’s time to answer the main question: How do I write a value proposition?
Much of the advice out there about how to craft your own value statement is either difficult to understand or isn’t necessarily targeted toward small business owners. That can feel overwhelming. So let’s take a step back and talk about how to write a good value proposition, all through the lens of a small business owner.
1. Know your target market
To write an undeniably effective value proposition, you need to start with who you’re talking to.
You should be equipped with a solid understanding of your customer’s:
You’ll use this information to write a statement that speaks directly to them. Not sure how to figure out your business’s target customer? Learn more in our helpful guide.
Let’s imagine that you’re starting a home repair business. You visit your customers’ homes to do everything from replacing windows to fixing washing machines.
Example target customer: Homeowners in the city of Pittsburgh who want well-maintained homes.
2. Identify their problem
Now that you know who you’re talking to, your next step is to drill down even further to identify what specific issue you address for them.
It’s entirely possible that your business solves a lot of problems. In the case of our home repair example, there are many micro-problems, everything from leaky faucets to faulty thermostats.
Many bigger businesses have different value propositions for different products or services. But for now, let’s keep things simple and focus on the overarching pain point you address for your customers. Your small business was likely born out of a need that you saw was unmet, and that’s what you should zoom in on here.
Example: Homeowners don’t have the expertise or time to complete repairs themselves.
3. Share how you solve it
Next, you’ll clearly state how you solve your customer’s problem. You don’t want to be long-winded here (“I possess all of these specific licenses”), but you also don’t want to be too vague (“I repair things”).
Ultimately, this section is about the difference between you and your competitors. Why are you the best choice over anybody else?
Do you have years of experience? A specific industry qualification or expertise? An innovative or patented solution? Do you provide a better customer experience? Free delivery? Whatever it is that sets you apart is what you should include here.
Example: I have 20 years of experience as a facilities maintenance specialist.
4. Tie back to results
You can’t expect your customers to connect the dots themselves; you need to explain exactly how they’ll benefit from working with you.
With our home repair business example, the results might be that customers will get appliances and infrastructure repaired around their homes. But take it a step further: What does that actually do for them?
They get peace of mind. They save time. They have fewer hassles and headaches.
As you pick which ones to focus on, return to the information you have about your target customer and their pain points. Which benefits do you think will resonate most with them? You can even collect feedback or test different statements to see which ones hit home the most.
Example: Our high-quality home repairs relieve stress for homeowners.
Putting it all together
After walking through each of those four steps, here’s what we have to work with:
- Target customer: Homeowners in the city of Pittsburgh who want well-maintained homes.
- Problem: Homeowners don’t have the expertise or time to complete repairs themselves.
- Solution: I have 20 years of experience as a facilities maintenance specialist.
- Results: Our high-quality home repairs relieve stress for homeowners.
All of the fundamentals are there, but if you smash them all together, your value proposition will probably be too long and unfocused. You’ll need to do a little finessing here. It can be helpful to drop the different elements into this simple template to at least get started on the right track:
We do [X] to help you do [Y] so you can [Z].
After making some final polishes and tweaks, here’s what our example value proposition might look like:
You deserve to stop stressing over home repairs. We use our 20 years of maintenance experience to complete high-quality fixes that spare you the headaches and hassles.
Not bad, right? Of course, this isn’t the only way to package it. You’re free to play around and find the right sequence that works for you, your business, and, most importantly, your customers.
What do the best value propositions consist of?
As we’ve discovered above, creating value propositions for your audience is a science, one that can be easily mastered by using the correct formula. However, the structure also needs some TLC and a personal touch to be considered a powerful value proposition. This structure consists of:
- A headline to capture the audience
- A subheader to summarize your mission
- A list of bullet points of features to give a rundown of what you offer
- A visual element to tie it all together
Where should you use your value proposition?
You should use a value proposition anywhere potential customers might find you, like below your main logo online or on a banner ad. This could include (but certainly isn’t limited to):
- Your website homepage
- Landing pages
- Product pages (when they fit naturally)
- Social media bios
Of course, you don’t need to have it on every web page; instead, think of where it fits naturally and has a high impact based on your goals (like high-traffic pages, for example).
The important thing to keep in mind is that your promise of value should be one of the first things customers see when they discover your business. Focus on the main entry points for customers who discover and engage with your business, and confirm that your value proposition (or some form of it) is included there.
Small business value proposition examples
There are plenty of strong value propositions out there in the business world. Here are a few examples for reference:
- Evernote: “Tame your work, organize your life. Remember everything and tackle any project with your notes, tasks, and schedule all in one place. ”
- Apple Business: “When the world changes, business changes too. Apple hardware, software, and services work together to give your employees the power and flexibility to do whatever needs doing, wherever that may be.”
- Unbounce: “Get more conversions with Unbounce landing pages and conversion intelligence tools.”
1. Sandwich shop value proposition example
Make the most of your lunch break with delicious sandwiches made with homemade bread, fresh-cut deli meat, local cheeses, and spreads made from scratch.
Why it works:
- It’s short and quick-hitting
- It shows what products are offered
2. Cleaning service value proposition example
Turn your home into your sanctuary with a cleaning service that makes your spaces sparkle. Our detail-oriented staff does the dirty work so you don’t have to.
Why it works:
- It’s concise and punchy
- It gives you imagery
- It solves a problem
3. Consignment shop value proposition example
High-quality products don’t have to be high-priced. Peruse our selection of well-loved and well-cared-for decor and furnishings to bring style to your home without the sticker shock.
Why it works:
- It draws you in with potential savings
- It speaks to the company’s quality
4. Marketing agency value proposition example
Get your e-commerce business in front of the right customers with proven SEO strategies that drive results and sales.
Why it works:
- It offers a solution to a problem
- It encourages trust
5. Florist value proposition example
Celebrate life’s sweeter moments with free same-day delivery of hand-picked floral bouquets.
Why it works:
- It displays company offerings
- It provides imagery
- It’s to the point
5 tips for writing a compelling value proposition
The first draft of your value proposition doesn’t need to be the one you stick with. In fact, we encourage you to try out several versions to see what will fit best. Here are a few more tips to help you take your statement to the next level:
1. Keep it short
Your value proposition should take five seconds or less to read. If it takes longer than that, it’s too long.
Why so short? The average human attention span is somewhere around eight seconds, so you need to make an impact as quickly as possible.
2. Prioritize clarity
Clarity is key. Don’t beat around the bush; get to the point and keep your value proposition clear. No one wants to have to guess your service or product offering. Keep these tips in mind:
- Let them know what you offer
- Utilize subtle imagery
- Use a shortlist of how you can solve their pain points
3. Minimize first-person language
Remember, your value proposition isn’t only about your business; it’s about your customer. One simple trick to keep your messaging customer-focused is to swap out some of your “I” or “we” references for “you.”
Here’s an example of a value proposition that uses too much first-person language: I know many parents are stressed about their child’s first haircut. I create a friendly and welcoming salon environment where I can give kiddos their first trim without fears or tears.
And here it is with the spotlight shining on the customer: Your child’s first haircut can be stressful. Our friendly and welcoming salon environment helps your kiddo conquer their first trim without fears or tears.
This isn’t to say that you can never say “we” or “I;” they’re bound to appear somewhere. Just make sure that language isn’t overpowering the customer.
4. Avoid hype and sales-y language
Your value statement should separate you from your competitors, but the desire to differentiate yourself may tempt you to use overly promotional language.
You don’t need to say that your service is “unlike anything you’ve ever seen before” or your product is “a miracle” or “an answer to your prayers!” If you’ve really honed in on your key benefits, all that over-the-top language won’t be necessary.
5. Solicit feedback
If you’ve been staring at your own value proposition for days on end, it can be hard to see it objectively. That’s why it can be helpful to ask customers or other trusted confidants for their feedback.
You can even do A/B testing on a few different versions of your statement to see which one achieves your desired results. Even if you don’t do a formal test, pay attention to how your statement is working for you. If you aren’t seeing results like increased interest or an improved conversion rate, try making some tweaks.
Your business offers value, so own it
Here’s a question you can’t expect your customers to answer: Why should they do business with you?
As the business owner, it’s up to you to make that answer painfully obvious to them. That’s where a compelling value proposition comes into play. This statement speaks directly to your target audience to highlight benefits, separate you from your competition, and pushes your business forward.
After you’ve written a strong value proposition, you can turn your attention to other important business functions, like accounting and bookkeeping.
Featured Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.