Take a minute and think about one person who could really help boost your business. Maybe they have access to the money, contacts, or influence to take your business to the next level. Close your eyes and see their face. (It's okay. I'll wait.)
Now, what would you say to them?
You only have a few seconds of their attention. How would you get the light bulb to go off in their mind? How would you convince them that you are worth working with, investing in, or talking about?
In this moment, the difference between an "Ah-ha!" and a "Oh...interesting" is huge. And it doesn't extend only to the influential people we imagined above. Every potential customer goes through the same process. You need to convince them that you are interesting and that your product or service is worth exploring. That "pitch" moment is where you would use your value proposition.
Your value proposition is an important part of your foundational content and should be written once you've come up with the features and benefits of your product/service (more about foundational content here).
So what is a value proposition then?
A value proposition is simply a one sentence description of why your ideal customer should use your product or service. It should say exactly what problem your product or service solves, list the benefits to the consumer, and place priority on your point of difference.
Your value proposition is a crucial piece of content for your marketing and sales team because it's basically their conversation starter. It should pique interest and entice the potential buyer to want to know more. Upon reading or hearing, your potential buyer should say "Ooh! Tell me more!"
If you're not the best at sales writing (or writing in general) you're in luck. I've compiled a list of templates you can use to help you write a compelling value proposition. Try all of them or a few of them to see which template works best for your brand.
This may be the simplest value proposition template we’ve seen:
“We help X do Y doing Z”. The idea is to explain briefly why you exist, and then run it by a few people and see if it makes sense to them. If they don’t get it, give them a brief explanation of your product and have them summarize it for you.
This is probably the most popular one. This template has helped thousands of brands communicate their relative value to their audiences and is used most frequently in Fortune 500 firms. The template goes like this:
is a ______________________________________________(company name)
that ______________________________________________(benefit statement).
This model uses one sentence that distills your vision, but working off of an already know concept:
“Proven industry example for/of (new idea).”
Here’s an example:
The Walmart of health food stores.
This model suggests describing things in a specific order:
Customer: __________________________ (who is your customer is)
Problem: _________________________________ (what problem you’re solving for the customer)
Solution:__________________________________ (what is your solution for the problem)
Keeping to the origins of the elevator pitch, this is the 30-second quick pitch:
- Short, simple, memorable – what, how, why
- Use 3 Keywords or phrases
- No expert jargon – KISS
This pitch should be short enough to deliver in seconds and not include any confusing industry-related jargon, similar to Pitching Hacks above:
(Your solution to market need) and our product is (use metaphor for something people already know).
Here’s an example:
We are bringing trust to cyberspace, and our first product is a Driver’s License for the Internet.
One easy way to think of this structure is to remember the 3Ws: Why, What, Who:
- Superlative – why choose this product? (ex. Easiest, best, number one)
- Label – what is the product? (ex. Snack food, operating system)
- Qualifiers – who is the audience? Who should use your product? (ex. busy moms )
Create a brief, compelling speech that sounds natural in conversation:
- Identify your goal.
- Explain what you do.
- Communicate your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
- Engage with a Question.
- Put it together.
The idea is to “hit people over the head with what makes you different”:
- What makes you valuable? Collect all of the most persuasive reasons people should notice you and take the action you’re asking for.
- Can you prove that? Use studies, testimonials, social proof, etc to prove your claim.
Create a short paragraph of text along with a photo:
- Headline. What is the end-benefit you’re offering, in 1 short sentence. Can mention the product and/or the customer. Attention grabber.
- Sub-headline or a 2-3 sentence paragraph. A specific explanation of what you do/offer, for whom and why is it useful.
- Three bullet points. List the key benefits or features.
- Visual. Images communicate much faster than words. Show the product, the hero shot or an image reinforcing your main message.
This exercise focuses on identifying the primary reason why a customer should buy from you and then using specific measures to rank your proposition - customer desire, exclusivity, etc. Continue to refine until you have one concise sentence that brings immediately credibility.
First, consider what sets you apart from the competition. If you’re unsure, do a competitive analysis.
Then for each of these four components, write down how your product satisfies each one: Capability, Impact, Proof, and Cost. Create one sentence that summarizes all.
Speak directly to your target audience and tell them specifically why they should buy your products and services. Your statement should incorporate the answers to these questions:
Who you are.
What you do (not how you do it).
What problem you solve. (You want people to say, “This is exactly what I am looking for.”)
Who your ideal client is.
Why your approach is more valuable than other approaches.
Why you can help people reach their goal. (After all, this is your core competency.)
Now that you have 13 great templates to choose from get started on your value proposition and once it's written, please share it with us!
Special thanks to Tor Grønsund for his great round up of templates and examples.