Your website has 5 - 10 seconds to grab the attention of visitors. If you can’t communicate your value in that time, you’re losing money. Which is why you need a killer value proposition. A value proposition provides vital information about your company that determines whether or not customers and prospects will stick around. Just take the following event planning sites...
What is a value proposition?
Which one makes you want to learn more about their services? I’d bet the second one. Why? Because of the value proposition: "Making your event unforgettable is what we do best." It’s direct, specific, and takes prominence on the page. In contrast, the main focus of the first website is the company logo and a block of text. This is hardly attractive to people looking for event planning help. Indeed, a strong value proposition can actually increase website conversions and ROI. Consider
the case of Jamaica Inn
.
The luxury resort hotel was thriving before the 2008 recession. The business was profitable, everyone were happy, and then, the bottom fell out. The recession meant that its customer base was no longer spending, causing occupancy and revenue to take a major hit. The once prosperous business was now on the verge of collapsing. So the team decided to completely revamp marketing efforts. They launched a value proposition-centered email and social campaign. It resulted in:
  • A
    52 percent increase in revenue
    during the length of the campaign

  • A
    50 percent increase in website traffic
    in the first year

  • An average ratio of
    35:1 for total revenue
    ROI
    on the PPC campaign

But to develop a value proposition that yields the results Jamaica Inn enjoyed is not easy. Thankfully, there’s a lot of research and best practices on the topic. Here’s your go-to guide.
Image from Bidsketch
Related Articles
Victoria Taylo
Victoria is the Content Marketing Coordinator at
Readz
and editor of
Readz Magazine
. Victoria has a background in marketing and PR, and is a Boston University College of Communication graduate. Connect with her on Twitter
@VPTaylo
.
Click here to receive the free value proposition checklist.
A value proposition is a statement describing why the visitor should buy from you. It is a quick, concise explanation of what your company does and is the #1 thing that determines whether visitors will bother to learn more about you. It is not a slogan (e.g., “Just Do It”), and it is not a positioning statement (e.g., “The worlds #1 survey platform”). Rather, a value proposition addresses:
  • How your product solves a problem or improves a situation (How is it relevant?)
  • The end benefit of using it (What is the primary value offered?)
  • Why the customer should buy from you and not the competition (What makes you different?)
It should be front and center on the homepage and visible across all entry points and key materials.
What goes into a value proposition?
A value proposition usually consists of a headline, subhead or paragraph, bullet points, and a visual. Now there’s no one-size-fits-all model, but this is a good formula to start with. We'll break it down piece by piece.

Headline
The headline is the the most important part of your value prop. It is the first thing visitors see and
gets more attention
than anything else. Use the headline to describe the end benefit you’re offering, in one short sentence. The point is to hold the visitor’s attention so they keep reading. Bidsketch has a nice headline:
Subheadline or short paragraph
The subhead is more detailed and specific than the headline. It explains what you offer, for whom, and why it’s useful. It essentially provides the details that aren’t possible in a headline, but should be kept to a couple of sentences, three at most. Concur has a good subhead:
Image from Concur
Bullet points (optional)
This is where you’d list the key benefits and/or features of your offering. Bullet points are useful for when you need to go into more detail but want to keep things concise. And people like them because they’re easy to skim. Again, this is totally optional.

Visual
Unlike a bullet point list, the visual is critical. Images capture visitors attention and communicate messages faster than words. A great visual will tie everything together and emphasize your benefit. Show the product, something using product, or a relevant image that reinforces your main message. Skype does this well:
Image from Skyper
What makes a good value proposition?
A good value proposition describes the offer, who it’s for, why it’s useful, and how it’s different. Beyond that, there are several attributes it will have. Here are the five most important.

It’s easy to read and understand
Value props are written for the customer’s understanding. They are not there for you to sound clever or cute, so avoid jargon and hype, and follow this very simple guiding principle: If it makes people think, you’re doing it wrong. Indeed, a good value proposition can be read and understood
in about 5 seconds
.

It has a clear target audience
It should address who the product or offer is for. Are you delivering a service for working moms? Teenage boys? These messages will vary considerably, but it's important to ensure that you attract the right audience. This can be as specific or generic as you need, but it needs to be clear. If you’re unsure, start thinking about who benefits most from your product/service.

It uses the right language
In addition to being clear, a good value proposition will be in the language of the customer. It should join the conversation already going on in their head. This means you need to learn how your customers describe your offering and how they benefit. It will likely be different from how you describe them. Using the words and phrases they use will help you establish good rapport.

It emphasizes the end result
People want to know what they’ll get from buying and using your products/services. A good value proposition communicates this clearly. Hone in on the end benefit, be specific, and do it early on.
Trello
sets a great example.

It says how it’s different
Your value proposition should explain how you are different or better from the competition. Most people check out 4-5 options before they make a decision, so it’s imperative that you stand out during this process. If there’s nothing unique about you, you’d better think something up.
5 examples of great value propositions
Now you know what goes into a value proposition and what makes a good one, but what does this look like? We’re about to show you! We’ve chosen five awesome value propositions that follow the best practices we’ve already
covered
.

Evernote
Image from Evernote
  • What are they selling?
    A note taking app.

  • Who is the audience?
    People who want to be more organized. The background video provides some additional context. The people in it are working, however they are not “at work.” They don’t sit still for long, so there’s a clear need for the product. And we can see from their surroundings that they value organization.

  • What’s the end benefit?
    Better organization, all in one place.

  • How are they different?
    It is the app to manage it all. So rather than using multiple tools, you just need the one.

  • P
    luses
    :
    The video is short and sweet, and provides helpful context about the types of people who might use the product.

Spotify
Image from Spotify
  • What are they selling?
    A music service.

  • Who is the audience?
    Music lovers. Also, if you click the left and right arrows, you’ll find additional messages targeted to students, families, and PlayStation users. These are likely important audiences for the company

  • What’s the end benefit?
    Access to free music.

  • How are they different?
    It’s not immediately clear, though we can see that they offer a wide variety of music, and that it’s free. Beyond that there aren’t many differentiators at this stage. Visitors learn more as they scroll.

  • Pluses:
    A warm and welcoming design that also features the service’s top artists.


Image from The Ladders
  • What are they selling?
    A career management tool.

  • Who is the audience?
    There are two. The primary audience is people looking for jobs, and the secondary is employers looking for candidates.

  • What’s the end benefit?
    Find a job.

  • How are they different?
    It offers help with career management in addition to the recruitment tool. Differentiation is also shown through the quantified benefits listed to the left.

  • What are they selling?
    Professional translation services.

  • Who is the audience?
    Global/expanding companies.

  • What’s the end benefit?
    Very clear: Fast, affordable, and quality translations by native speakers.

  • How are they different?
    The translations are powered by people.
  • Pluses:
    Strong call to action text and a unique visual that reinforces the company’s key benefit.

  • What are they selling?
    Online creative courses.

  • Who is the audience?
    People who want to learn new skills quickly but who can’t commit to a physical location.

  • What’s the end benefit?
    Learn creative skills in 15 minutes a day, for free, wherever you are.

  • How are they different?
    They make it clear that it’s not just any skills, it’s creative skills. And it’s quick.
  • Pluses:
    They include a background video featuring a user learning a new creative skill. It’s subtle and effective.
The process of creating a value proposition
Now that you know the basics, you’re probably ready to start creating your value proposition. You might be wondering if there’s a best process for doing this?
Why, yes, there is!
Here is the process we’ve used and hope you will use too, to create your value proposition.


Step 1: Research your customers

You first need to understand your target audience. Aim to understand their needs, wants, motivations, and pain points. Hint: This is not accomplished by guessing. You need to go directly to the source. In addition to your usual analytics, select some folks to interview. Interviews are ideal because you can gain valuable information about how they talk, the language they use, and other details not possible with the written word. Get these people on the phone, and ask them:
  • What they do for a living
  • What their biggest challenge or pain point is
  • How your offering has helped solve this problem
  • How they describe your offering, in their own words
The answers to these questions can provide good insight into your customer base and may uncover some things you weren’t aware of.
ProTip:
Keep an organized log of your questions and answers to help with the next step.

Step 2: Analyze the data
Now that you have all of this data, you need to analyze it and identify common trends. For instance, did a certain pain point keep coming up in your conversions? A key benefit? Were there any patterns in the language they used? Analyzing this data will clue you in on the type of people you want to target. HubSpot’s
David Kim
suggests using this data to create your
buyer personas
. This will help you better understand your prospects and how to effectively communicate with them.
ProTip:
It can sometimes help to create negative personas - a representation of who you don’t want as a customer.


Step 3: Research your competitors
You conversations with customers may have uncovered other products or services they use alongside yours, or ones they’ve used in the past. Look into them, and pay attention to any names you directly compete with. Consider what makes you different. Do this for each of your competitors or until you have a solid understanding of what sets you apart. This is necessary to effectively differentiate and position yourself. If you find there’s nothing significant that sets you apart, it may be time to reevaluate your offering.
ProTip:
Small value-adds can work well against competitors who do not offer them:
Image from ConversionXL
Step 4: Identify primary benefit
According to
Harvard Business Review
, there are only four types of consumer benefits that matter and therefore only four categories of value propositions that work. They are:

  • Best quality, or best-in-class
  • Best “bang for your buck” or quality-to-price ratio
  • Luxury and aspiration (think: Rolex, Hermes, BMW)
  • Must-haves, such as basic goods
Does your company fit into one or more of these categories? Refer to your interview notes to see if any of these themes came up in conversion. From here you’ll already have a good idea of how to differentiate and position yourself.
ProTip:
Provide specific numbers to add more credibility.
Value proposition templates and resources
Finally, you can think about writing your value proposition. It can be a difficult process, so to help you get started, we’ve gathered some awesome value proposition templates and resources you can use.

Test your value proposition
It’s crucial that you continually test your value proposition to identify the best messaging for your target audience. There are three steps to testing value propositions, according to
Strategyzer
. They are:
  1. Test the assumptions regarding your customers jobs, pains, and gains. This carefully looks at wording and language.
  2. Test the products, services and features that you’ve emphasized. Which do your customers want the most.
  3. Test your customer’s willingness to pay. Play with some different approaches. Use a funnel as a framework for your testing execution. So start broad with audience profiles and preferences, and as you get more data, narrow it down to test those most likely to buy. Keep testing until you find the value prop that performs the best.
Some additional tips on executing your AB testing:
  • Test your most critical hypotheses first
  • Pay attention to related variables to your hypothesis
  • Develop 3-4 propositions to be tested with CTAs
  • Test and record what you observe against your initial hypothesis
Here’s a list of
A/B testing software
to use for your testing.
Conclusion
Value propositions are critical for business. We’ve covered how a value proposition can help increase sales and ROI, what a value prop is made of, and what aspects make a good one. Follow the four-step process, utilize the resources provided above, and be sure get a copy of our value proposition checklist. We’d love to hear about your process and see what you come up with. What were your challenges? Did you have an ah-ha moment, and if so, what was it? What did you learn from your A/B testing?
Click here to receive the free value proposition checklist.
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Value Propositions: How To Get It Right w/ Examples
By Victoria Taylo
Proven marketing strategies from real companies.

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