The what, where and how of a value proposition

Posted in Sales techniques and processes.

Telling people that you and your products are the best simply isn’t enough to convince companies to buy what you’re selling. You most likely have competitors that provide similar products and benefits as you do. You need to find a way to showcase that you are the best option despite bearing similarities to others. For example, Apple, whose products are definitely not the cheapest on the market, promise and provide a lifestyle and experience to their customers that their competitors don’t. That is their unique value proposition and you should have one too.

Part of discovering what a value proposition is, is understanding what it isn’t. It is not a snappy slogan like Nike’s “Just do it”, nor is it simply factual information found in your electronic product catalogue about your products. And, it is also not a passionate, overly sweetened description of your company and its offerings.

So, what is it then? A value proposition is a statement from the company to customers that show them why they should buy a product. It is a message that aims to convince the customer that a particular product will add value to their lives or solve their problems better than other offerings could. A value proposition puts out the most persuasive reasons why customers should notice you and take the action you ask for. All value propositions should have uniqueness (that’s why it’s often called a unique value proposition) as it is the thing that will make customers come back to you time and again, despite competitors.

Why is a value proposition so important? Simply put, if you don’t know the value of your product and why you charge what you charge for it, then why should people buy it? A value proposition allows you to focus on the reasons why your product is superior to those of competitors and worth the money. It informs customers that you have their best interests in mind by providing solutions to their problems through your products. It also attracts the right kind of customer to your company.

There are three basic things you need to know before creating a value proposition. Firstly, know your customers. You can use our post on buyer personas and market research to get to the heart of who you want to sell to for the best effect. What do they value? What improvements are they looking for? What problems do they want to solve.

Next, get to know each of your products. How does each of your products solve customer-related problems? What results do the products provide? Make sure to always think from the perspective of the customer.

Lastly, become well-acquainted with your competitors. In what ways does each product create more value than its direct competitors? Does it have more features or better features? Does it more directly solve a customer’s problem with special added items?

Now that you have pondered over these three things, you can start formulating your value proposition. To do this, it is best to write it from the customer’s viewpoint. Boil it down to two or three sentences that answer why a customer would want to buy a product, what they value most about the product or in what ways they can see that it is better than competing products.

When writing up the value proposition, remember that you can add in some numbers and percentages for added oomph. For example, “Product A performs 45% better than its closest market competitor”. Further strengthen your value proposition’s message with customer testimonials, assurances (like guarantees), and social proof. Furthermore, use language that your customers would be most likely to use. Your prior research into who your customers are and your buyer personas will come in handy here. Finally, read your value proposition and see whether it tells you what you’re selling, what the benefits are, who the target customer is, and what makes what you’re selling different from competitors. Once you are happy that your value proposition is well defined, you can start using it.

The most important thing to remember is that the value proposition should be used across all departments within the company. This means you use it when speaking to customers face-to-face, when presenting the product through your electronic product catalogue and in online communications (email, social media and website). It should become a part of the company’s language. It is after all the thing that speaks directly to the customer’s needs and will most likely make them feel like they can relate to you and what you provide.