You need a compelling value proposition for many reason.

Sales, conversion rate optimization, messaging to staff and more…

In this article, we cover how to build a compelling value proposition.

How to Build a Compelling Value Proposition

In a world full of show-don’t-tell, it’s easy to forget that sometimes, telling is the way to go.

When someone finds your product, don’t waste a second: tell them upfront what you do and why you’re better than the competition.

We call it your value proposition.

What is Value Proposition?

When Googling the phrase, you’ll likely see a lot of results along these lines: “a promise of the value you can deliver.”

But that’s doesn’t really cover it.

Your value proposition is what marks your brand as relevant, outlines its specific benefits, and crafts the message in a way that persuades people to take notice of you (over the competition).

A compelling value proposition is what dominates your marketing messages and informs buyer decisions. In their eyes, it what sets you apart from the crowd.

So as you can see, it’s a pretty big deal.

And here’s the thing: it’s not really about you, it’s about the customer. Yes, you want to give an accurate information, but you’re doing it to appeal to your readers.

At its core, a good value proposition should do the following.

Speak the Customer’s Language

Here’s what a value proposition isn’t: a slogan, like:

Nike. Just do it.

I know every one of you recognized it, and probably feel good about what it represents. But if you saw just the slogan, with no other information, it wouldn’t really tell you much about the brand or what it stands for.

That’s because it isn’t representing its value. And in order for Nike to get to the point where they only need a slogan and a swoosh to be easily recognizable, the first had to put up a pretty incredible value proposition.

It also shouldn’t use any technical language or industry jargon. Remember, this is about your customers, so speak to them in the language they understand.

Be Believable

Remember that scene in Elf, where he finds the “world’s best cup of coffee!” – only it’s actually just another bland, forgettable diner cup of coffee?

While we all want to believe we’re housing the very best product or service in our field, including words like “best” and “world’s greatest” isn’t really doing anything to make people believe it’s true.

Instead, highlight the benefits you think make you the best. This is also a good time to bring in some social proof. Look at any case studies or customer testimonials, and see if there’s any information you can tease out to support your claims.

Basecamp does a great job of this:

Value Proposition - Basecamp

Value Proposition – Basecamp

They draw on real numbers and percentages to make their case, and it works. With those few sentences alone, viewers gain a sense that is a valuable service.  

Be Specific

Value propositions are often on the long side. And that’s okay.

Anything too short either doesn’t have much to say or is being way to broad. Take this example from HP:

“HP provides the products, services and solutions that help you simplify IT. Because your business is everywhere you are.”

It’s catchy, I’ll give you that. But what does it really say about the brand? What value can you take away from it?

Had HP expanded on what those products and services were, and why its solutions are so valuable to its clients, it would have a much more compelling proposition.

Kinda like Zoho does:

Value Proposition - Zoho

Value Proposition – Zoho

They have a clear headline and easy to read bullet points that explain in detail how Zoho’s services will benefit its target audience.

Remember, when a prospect lands on your website, they don’t want to dig around to find out what you do.

Tell them up front what it is and why your product is better, and don’t be afraid of being too obvious.

How to Craft Your Value Proposition

No two value propositions are the same (and if they are, there’s something very wrong.)

But you’ll notice the best ones follow a similar formula, generally made up of:

  • A headline – this should be short but captivating. Try to sum up your best benefit in on sentence
  • A subheadline – this supports your headline and explains more specifically what you offer
  • Bullet points – try to include at least three here. These list the major benefits and advantages of your product or service
  • Includes visuals – a picture’s worth a thousand words, right? Include pictures of the product or representation of your services to better engage viewers

To make things easiest, start with the bullet points.

Start by brainstorming all of the features and benefits of your business, and which ones are most relevant to your audience.

As you go, single out the qualities that are unique. Realistically, it’s unlikely that your business is unique in every way, and no one’s (likely) expecting it to be.

Your job is to find the aspect that is unique and hone in it. That’s the feature that your customers will value the most.

Try this: when crafting your value proposition, think of it as the answer you would give when someone asks “why should I choose you?”

For example: let’s look at Apple and PC. On the outside, the two sell relatively the same thing. But when you break it down, it looks a little like this:

  • Apple:
    • Sleeker design
    • Well protected against viruses
    • Great for graphics
  • PC
    • Less expensive
    • Better for gaming
    • More models and choices
Value Proposition - Mac vs. PC

Value Proposition – Mac vs. PC

So those are the aspects each would focus on to create their value propositions (obviously, this is not an exhaustive list, but you get the picture.)

While each may appear to sell similar items, someone who really cared about gaming would be more likely to go for the PC. And if PC has outlined that aspect in their value proposition, they could be looking at a sale in the very near future.

To be fair, it’s not always easy to come up with stellar, original ideas. So for reference, here are some common qualities of products with unique values:

  • Best quality
  • Must-haves – (must have food, book, etc.)
  • Best bang for your buck
  • Luxury item

Here’s a great article on identifying an angle for your value proposition – it’s an oldie, but goody.

Compelling Value Propositions – What to Look For

The strongest value propositions generally have a lot going for them. They follow the formula above and incorporate strong, persuasive writing techniques.

Additionally, they have the following characteristics:

  • They’re different from their competitors
  • They highlight a unique value
  • It’s clearly stated and easy to understand
  • It outlines concrete results customers can expect from the product or service
  • It’s easily (and quickly) understandable

Let’s take a look at some examples.

1. Dollar Shave Club

Value Proposition - Dollar Shave Club

Value Proposition – Dollar Shave Club

They take you through exactly what it is what makes it unique, right on the homepage.

2. Pagely

Value Proposition - Pagely

Value Proposition – Pagely

You likely haven’t’ heard of them before, but once you leave their homepage you’ll have a handle on what exactly it is Pagely does.

That’s because it’s included up front in their value proposition, with an easy button leading to more reasons why you should choose them.

3. Vimeo

Value Proposition - Vimeo

Value Proposition – Vimeo

Vimeo’s entire homepage reads like an extended value proposition, highlighting and explaining its most important features and benefits.

4. Freshbooks

Value Proposition - Freshbooks

Value Proposition – Freshbooks

This one follows the above formula to a T: a headline that highlights the benefit, subhead that explains it, and bullet points with the most important features.

5. Mint

Value Proposition - Mint

Value Proposition – Mint

Mint mixes it up a little bit with a headline aimed more at grabbing attention but follows through by clearly stating what it does and what its benefits are.

Build Your Own Value Proposition

The idea of value proposition can be confusing, and consequently neglected.

But if you already know what makes your company unique, showcasing it shouldn’t really be a problem.

If you built a great product or brand, show it off. Tell people right off the bat why you’re the best.

Trust me, both you and your customers will be glad you did.