A value proposition promises value to a customer. It tells customers exactly why they should buy from you instead of someone else. An excellent value proposition will provide a massive boost. If I could give you only one piece of advice to improve conversions on your website, it would be to make sure your value propositions quickly resonate with target buyers. To create a killer value proposition, follow two rules: focus on benefits and value, not bits and bytes, and be specific.
Focus on Benefits and Value, Not Bits and Bytes
Remember that your value proposition is written for the people you’re targeting to do business with. It’s crucial that your value propositions focus on what the buyer needs, not on what you, the seller, care about. In the tech industry, I call these bits and bytes value propositions. Weak value propositions emphasize features and functionality rather than the benefits and value buyers are seeking. Benefits are the advantages the product offers. The value is how those benefits support the buyer’s underlying goals.
Trust me, no one cares that your product is built on a cloud-native architecture. That won’t drive more customer interest. Your customers need to know why that cloud architecture matters and how that benefits them. For example, cloud-native architecture could mean a more secure, scalable product or a product that takes less effort to maintain.
But the best value propositions don’t stop at benefits; they address the value. Connect the benefit the product offers directly to the impact it will make on the company. To return to the prior example, customers gain value from cloud-native architecture because they don’t need to worry about increasing their capacity when they grow, ongoing maintenance work, or having to apply security patches. They save money and time. Ultimately, they reach a return on investment faster than they would without using cloud-native architecture. If you can make that value-packed case to a customer, you have a better chance of closing a sale.
The best value propositions zero in on your niche and the buyer’s must-solve problem. To do that, value propositions must be loaded with specifics. At a minimum, a great value proposition contains these three things:
- Who benefits from your products
- How you help customers overcome challenges and meet their goals
- Why your product or approach is different and better than anyone else’s
Ideally, you’ll want to choose details that differentiate you from the competition. But remember that anything you include in your value proposition must be relevant to the target audience, true, and provable. On top of that, the value proposition must be clear. Make sure someone can read and understand the proposition in about five seconds.
A generic, bland, or opaque value proposition dies on the page. For example, let’s dissect a value proposition that needs some love. Take 1: “We improve the quality of education.” This could be any education company, right? We don’t know what type of people this company helps or what specific help people receive. The word quality sounds like something good for customers, but it doesn’t tell them exactly what quality means or how they should measure it. Let’s add some specifics. Take 2: “We provide a comprehensive library of easy-to-manage, personalized video-based learning tools for K–12 schools.” Now the value proposition includes:
- Who the customers are: K–12 schools.
- What the company provides: video-based learning.
- What the competitive differentiator is: we can assume similar tools aren’t as easy to use
This is better but still too weak to influence anyone. It doesn’t explain why customers should care about this approach or why they should buy from this company. It doesn’t ignite a spark. When we add even more details, we get a value proposition that pops. Take 3: “We empower K–12 teachers to help students become active learners. Our easy-to-use video-based learning tools boost student engagement fivefold. We’re the only video solution that adapts to a student’s specific learning challenges.” Now the buyer knows the following:
- What benefits to expect: Students become active learners
- How we can measure this: Engagement increases fivefold
- Why this company: We don’t have to guess at the competitive differentiators, the company tells us why it’s better than the competition, it’s easy, and, most importantly, it adapts to the needs of different students.
More than a Slogan
Once you settle on your killer value proposition, that should become a North Star for your entire business. Simply put, if your messaging doesn’t align with your actions, it torpedoes your customer credibility. They will feel bamboozled and almost always go somewhere else. When you combine a killer value proposition supported by totally aligned actions across an organization, you have an excellent chance to succeed compared to your competitors.
STEVEN MARK KAHAN has successfully helped grow seven startup companies from the early stage to going public or being sold, resulting in $5 billion in shareholder value. Steven is the author of Wall Street Journal Best Seller, High-Velocity Digital Marketing, and Be a Startup Superstar. He Can be reached at www.stevenmarkkahan.com