Creating a Value Proposition

Communicating the Benefits of Your Proposition Simply and Clearly

Creating a Value Proposition - Communicating the Benefits of Your Proposition Simply and Clearly

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Shine a light on your idea, service or product.

Imagine a world where everyone is in sales.

Well, in actual fact, everyone is to some extent! Whether you're trying to sell your holiday ideas to your spouse, or you're pitching a new project to your boss, it's all selling, and, whatever your offer (product, idea, project or job), it's important to have a really strong value proposition.

A value proposition is a short statement that clearly communicates the benefits that your potential client gets by using your product, service or idea. It "boils down" all the complexity of your sales pitch into something that your client can easily grasp and remember.

It's not enough just to describe the features or capabilities of your offer, your statement needs to be very specific. Your value proposition must focus closely on what your customers really want and value. Do they want to solve problems; to improve an existing solution; to have a better life; build a better business; do more, better, faster...?

A value proposition is a useful technique that has a much wider application than just marketing your products, too. Whatever you are "selling" and to whoever you're selling it, a value proposition is useful, if not essential. Whether your customers are external clients, employees, co-workers, or even your family, the idea is to help them see the specific value that your offer brings to them. And by doing so, you will grab their attention in such a way that they know: "Yes, that's right for me."

Creating a Great Value Proposition

When your customer asks: "Why should I buy this specific product or idea?" your value proposition must answer this, in a compelling way. The trick to creating a good value proposition is to know your product or idea well, know how it compares with those of your competitors and, very importantly, to know your audience's wants and needs.

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Your value proposition can be created step-by-step, by answering a series of questions. Once you answer these, you have the ingredients to create a value proposition that fully answers your customer's question: "Why should I buy this specific product or idea?"

Step One: Know Your Customer

Start by putting yourself in the customer's shoes. Do this by asking yourself the following:

  • Who is he or she? What does he do and need?
  • What problems does he need to solve?
  • What improvements does he look for?
  • What does he value?

Tip: If you don't know, ask!

It's easy to try to second guess what your customers want. And very easy to get it wrong. So do some market research. This could be a simple matter of asking customers directly, or of organizing a focus group or survey.

Market research is not just for external customers, it works for other "markets," too. Depending on your product or idea, your market could be employees, colleagues or even your spouse.

Step Two: Know Your Product, Service or Idea

From your customer viewpoint, answer the following questions:

  • How does the product, service or idea solve a particular problem or offer improvement?
  • What value and hard results does it offer the customer?

Tip: Include numbers and percentages

To grab your customer's attention even faster incorporate hard facts, such as percentages and numbers, in your value proposition. How much will your customer gain, save or improve? How much more efficient will she become? How much safer, smarter, faster, brighter will the solution be?

Step Three: Know Your Competitors

Keep on thinking from the perspective of your customer, and ask:

  • How does your product or idea create more value than competing ones?

Tip:

This can be quite difficult. See our articles on USP Analysis, Core Competence Analysis and SWOT Analysis for useful tools for doing this.

Step Four: Distill the Customer-Oriented Proposition

The final step is to pull all of the information you have gathered so far together and answer, in two or three sentence: "Why should I buy this specific product or idea?"

Try writing from the customer viewpoint by completing the following, (and don't forget to include the numbers and percentages that matter!). Formulate your value proposition by starting each sentence with the following:

  • "I want to buy this product or idea because it will..."
  • "The things I value most about the offer are..."
  • "It is better than competing products or ideas because..."

Step Five: Pull It All Together

Now, turn your customer's answer from Step Four into a value proposition statement.

Example

Here's a simple example. Let's say that you sell lawn mowers, and your customer is someone with a large backyard.

Step One: Know Your Customer

Your customer is a businessman with quite a large house, who likes the "meditative feeling" of cutting his own lawn, but gets bored by the job when it takes too long.

He's looking for a good quality of cut, and for the job to be done quickly and enjoyably.

Step Two: Know Your Product or Idea

The product is a ride-on mower with a 25 horsepower (powerful) engine and 45 inch (wide) cutting blades.

Step Three: Know Your Competitors

The mower goes faster and cuts wider than competitors' products.

Step Four: Distill the Customer-Oriented Proposition

"Our mower cuts your grass in 50 percent of the time of "big brand" mowers in its class. And it leaves your lawn looking beautiful, too!"

If you haven't already looked at our USP Analysis article, do so now – it will show you how, with a little research, you can identify how your product or service is unique. It's also worth understanding the various strategic positioning options that will underpin your value statement. Our article on Porter's Generic Strategies explains these.

This site teaches you the skills you need for a happy and successful career; and this is just one of many tools and resources that you'll find here at Mind Tools. Subscribe to our free newsletter, or join the Mind Tools Club and really supercharge your career!

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Comments (22)
  • Over a month ago Michele wrote
    Hi Hemilee16,

    Indeed. A well researched value proposition specifies what it is you are selling and why customers would want to buy it.

    Michele
    Mind Tools Team
  • Over a month ago Hemilee16 wrote
    In communicating you always need to have a strategy and a positive outcome.
  • Over a month ago BillT wrote
    Hi nyia-15,

    I agree that communication should be structured to achieve a positive outcome.
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