The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Rolling Stone’s editors or publishers.
Your brand’s value proposition should be the framework for everything you do in your marketing efforts — period. It provides structure, focus, direction and clarity, which are characteristics required for businesses to succeed. Ideally, it should be finalized before creating your website or performing a website redesign. In this article, I’ll explain my definition of value proposition, why I think it’s the most powerful approach, how to implement it right away, and some pitfalls to avoid when creating your own.
What is a value proposition?
You may be thinking, “Really, he’s going to explain what it is?” Yes, I am, because if you ask five different marketers what a value proposition is, you’ll usually get five different answers. The following is of course my opinion, but it is backed up by the satisfaction of many satisfied customers.
My definition of a value proposition is simple. It’s what you do differently and better than your competitors. If you do it right, marketing is a thing of beauty, it’s a lot easier and a lot cheaper. If you don’t do it right, you’re just another business battling with your competitors. Let’s see why what you do differently and better should be the cornerstone of your value proposition.
Your competition is much bigger than you think
Your competition is anything and everything that turns people away from your offers. If you’re selling educational toys for toddlers, your competition is everything in the lives of those busy parents, not just your direct competitors. Everything from after-school soccer practice to a day at the beach is your competition. Focusing on what you do differently and better allows you to shine like a beacon in a sea of competitors.
Your value proposition can be indisputable
Do you have a proven stat that stands out? Bringing that fact to the fore and being able to back it up is a huge differentiator.
“We provide the best educational toys for toddlers” is not a good value proposition. How will I know you provide the best educational toys for toddlers? But if Good Housekeeping puts you at the top of their list for educational toys, for example, it’s something you can proudly shout out to the world.
You have a unique message for everyone
Focusing on what you do differently and better brings clarity and simplicity. Done correctly, it works for everyone you target.
Let’s say you have several audiences to convince. For example, a new cancer treatment organization may need to win over investors, CEOs and chief scientists of major pharmaceutical companies, patients interested in participating in clinical trials, and more.
Focusing on what you do differently and better provides a compelling message that works for all of your audiences. Sure, you can have group-specific messaging refinements to back up the value proposition, but the key message starts with what you do differently and better.
Putting what you do differently and better first on your website, LinkedIn profile, social pages, brochures, business cards, recruitment ads, and even on trade show signage projects your unique value with a single message.
Some mistakes to avoid
Your value proposition is not a description of what you do, it’s what you do differently and better. I’ve had clients try to turn the value proposition into a Wikipedia page about their business or make it too glamorous or pretentious. Don’t complicate it. Your value proposition is meant to grab and hold attention. Only when you do this will your audience be interested in the deeper story.
A bold title on your website is not meant to convert; it’s meant to be engaging and interesting to keep people engaged with (of course) what you do differently and better.
Your value proposition shouldn’t get bogged down in industry jargon. The message should work for all of your audiences. Grab their attention and keep it, then gradually bring in the deeper details. Have you heard someone complain that a message, brochure or company profile on a website was too easy to understand? Probably not. Be clear and simple, focus on your unique value.
Few companies have a great value proposition
If you’re still not convinced to take on this task, scour your competitors’ websites and look for value propositions on what they’re doing differently and better. Chances are you won’t find many that are compelling. So imagine the impact of your efforts with a fantastic message about how different and better you are.
It is not easy
The most important thing for your business is also the hardest part of marketing. You can stand out and get results by working hard to create your value proposition and revisiting it over time for adjustments as your organization grows. It takes time to do things right. Be patient and persevere. Simply by creating and using a great value proposition, you have a leg up on your competition – a very big step indeed.
Be diligent and don’t give up. Challenge yourself and your team, and the results could very well be worth it.