What makes you different to your competitors and why should your audience choose your product or service over theirs? If you can answer that question succinctly, you're well on your way to creating a value proposal that improves your conversion rates, and gives your business the laser sharp focus on customer needs required to take you to the next level.
A lot of business owners really struggle with this because they get caught up in the business and forget why they started it in the first place. This is when they start to become a ‘me too' business (I nicked that phrase from Robert Craven), which basically means they are aiming for average and cannot differentiate themselves from their competitors.
So sometimes you need to take a step back and look at your positives.
Maybe you offer an exemplary level of customer service, or maybe your product is simply better than the rest?
Do you charge per job rather than per hour, or do you differentiate by charging a set fee every month rather than per hour – thus letting your customers set a budget so they don’t get any nasty surprises?
Do you specialise in one particular area of your market that makes you different to your competitors?
If you can’t find any differentiators, it might be time to give your business the shake up it deserves and create some.
Put simply, a value proposition is what you can offer your audience that no one else can. You need to think about this from the perspective of your potential customers. Put yourself in their shoes and think about how your product/service adds value to their lives.
A good value proposal gets the point across quickly, is simple to understand, and outlines precisely what’s in it for them if they use your service or product.
People simply don't have time to research exactly what you do, so you need to be able to convey it succinctly and attractively – pointing out the benefits of using you rather than a competitor.
To create your value proposition, you need to understand your customers' wants and needs – their challenges and worries – and then solve them.
If you're able to do this, you'll generate more business, and you'll build a valuable base of loyal customers and fans.
To generate loyal customers, you need to back up your value proposition with great service, and you'll need to maintain the qualities that make you unique.
If you understand your customers' wants and needs like you should do – and you've created accurate customer personas – you'll be able to add value to their businesses on a consistent basis by pre-empting issues, and ensuring they're constantly wowed by the service you offer them.
Creating your value proposition
While many people view their value proposition as a concept to focus their marketing strategy around, I think it is a great help if you actually define it, and create a written document.
This will help you to focus in, and clearly understand it yourself.
Your value proposition should be a flexible, evolving entity. Don’t be afraid to test it and revisit it whenever you need to, and if you have a team, allow them to get involved in the creation and maintenance of it. This isn’t just the sales team, it should involve a good mix wherever possible.
Conveying your value proposition
You may need to shortern it for marketing purposes, but for this exercise we will use your website – because every business by now should have a website at the very least.
Peep Laja's blog has a good template to get you started. Basically, like a lot of other good marketers, he uses the following method:
A Headline – Not to be confused with a slogan, it just tells the customer how you can help solve their problems in a single punchy line. This is the big attention grabber.
An Intro Paragraph – Again this shouldn't be too long – a couple of sentences will do – but it should summarise what benefits your audience will receive in a simple way.
Bullet points – Finally, add three bullet points that detail the main problems you can solve and how this will benefit the audience.
Once you're satisfied with it, test it on your audience and see how they respond.Don’t try and be too snazzy. All you need to do is include what the company offers that's different, and then make it relevant to your audience in a simple way that's easy to understand.
If you can do that, you'll be on to a winner.
Why you need a good value proposition on your website
If your web conversion rates aren't knocking your socks off, the first place to start testing is your value proposition.
This should be displayed prominently on your home page, or on any landing page where you're hoping that visitors might convert.
We're all guilty of ruthless use of the ‘back' button. There's no second chances online, and if we're not immediately gripped by a site, or we don’t understand what's on offer, we're out of there in a matter of seconds.
A value proposition is what gets the attention of your audience, and helps them to decide whether to convert with you, or one of your competitors.
The value proposition should be the first thing visitors see, and it should be easy to read.
Testing your value proposition
There are a number of ways to test your value proposition, but one of the simplest is to use A/B Split testing which basically means sending one visitor to Page A, and then next visitor to Page B. So out of 10,000 visits, for instance, 5,000 will see page A and 5,000 page B. The page that converts the highest is your winner.
You can continue this process indefinitely to keep honing the effectiveness of your landing pages.
Of course your value proposition isn’t just there for your marketing. It should be a document that is engrained throughout the whole of your company, because it’s not only about getting your customers to believe in you, it’s also about getting your whole company bought in and proud to be a part of it.