Your value proposition

What is a value proposition?

Your value proposition is:

  1. A succinct statement of the value or benefit your product/service offers to the reader.
  2. A simple argument for why a reader should choose to purchase your product (instead competing products).

Your product might have 100s of benefits. Once you condense those down into the one or two that are most important, you’ve got a value proposition.

Note: there are a variety of closely related terms that marketers/copywriters use that are similar to value proposition: unique selling point, unique selling proposition, USP, key selling point, positioning statement, etc. There are differences between these terms, but just be aware that they’re often used to describe something similar.

Value proposition examples

In the case of value propositions, an example is worth a thousand words. Read these posts for a few excellent examples of value propositions (good and bad):

Value propositions are specific to the audience and context

Most companies will have a core value proposition that defines the most important benefit they provide to their customers. This is the value proposition they might highlight on the website homepage, for example.

Let’s take Quickbooks as an example. If you look at their homepage, you can see what appears to be their core value proposition repeated several times:

The message is clear: Quickbooks makes it easy & simple to manage your finances. That appears to be Quickbooks’ core value proposition.

But it’s a rare company that only has one value proposition. Most companies will also have other value propositions which they use for:

  • Different audiences. If you’re selling office furniture, a freelancer and an interior designer for banks will care about different things!
  • Different campaigns. If you’re selling different features or products, you’ll need to highlight different benefits.
  • Different products or features. If you’re selling an SUV and a pickup truck, they’ll have different value propositions.

To illustrate this, let’s stick with Quickbooks as an example. Below are a couple of ads they’re running on Facebook. Notice how:

  • Each ad has a clearly communicated value proposition
  • Each ad uses completely different value propositions
  • The value propositions are clear, succinct, and specific
This ad’s value prop: Run payroll in less than 5 minutes.
This ad’s value prop: get paid instantly.

Developing your value proposition

OK, so how do I develop a value proposition. Great question. Developing a value proposition is very simple in practice, but complicated in practice.

Here’s how to develop a value proposition:

  1. Identify your audience.
  2. Identify your offer (i.e. the product/service).
  3. Identify the most important reason(s) someone from that audience would choose your offer. This is the key benefit or benefits your product offers.
  4. Identify why customers should choose your offer instead of either doing nothing or choosing a competitor. This is what you do that’s unique/better than competitors.

The best training I’ve ever gotten on value propositions came from Flint McGlaughlin of MECLABS. Here’s a video from him teaching an excellent formula for identifying your value proposition:

A good value proposition keeps marketing honest and customer-focused

Lots of people don’t like being sold to, because they feel that sales and marketing are all about tricking people. A good value proposition ensures that you’ll never fall into that trap, because it keeps the needs, wants, and priorities of your customers front and center to everything you do.

[The correct definition of a value proposition] keeps us from being hypesters and hucksters. You don’t win in this game by yelling louder or lying.

Flint McGlaughlin