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How to write a value proposition: definition and examples

Value proposition in marketing and sales
Topics
What are value propositions? A clear value proposition definition
How to write a great value proposition
3 value proposition templates
5 value proposition examples
How to test your value proposition
Value proposition FAQs
Final thoughts

Your value proposition is a short paragraph, roughly two to three sentences long, but a critical component of any successful marketing strategy.

A good value proposition is both an art and a science, with so much to communicate in such a short space.

In this article, you’ll learn our value proposition definition and why it’s so important. We’ll then discuss how to write and test a great value proposition to attract more of your ideal customers.


What are value propositions? A clear value proposition definition

A value proposition is a brief company statement that differentiates your business, or a specific product or service, from your competitors. It highlights the clearest benefit and demonstrates why customers should choose you over your competitors.

The statement acts as a brand’s “promise of value” to a customer. Some people may call it a unique value proposition.

It addresses your customer’s problems and specific pain points while positioning your business as the best solution to help them overcome those obstacles.

Value propositions play a major role in a company’s strategy because they communicate the most important information your customer needs to know: who it’s for, what it does, why it’s better than the rest and why they should buy it.

Businesses usually display these messages across key channels, such as on the homepage, product landing pages and social media, to immediately speak to their ideal customers and remind customers of their key selling points.

For example, Stripe clearly explains their most important information in one sentence on its homepage:

Millions of businesses of all sizes – from startups to large enterprises – use Stripe’s software and APIs to accept payments, send payouts, and manage their businesses online.


Here, in just one line, Stripe explains the following:

  • Who it’s for. businesses of all sizes – from startups to large enterprises

  • That lots of people trust them. millions of businesses

  • What it is. software and API

  • What it does. accept payments, send payouts, manage business online

You can use a high-quality statement like this directly in your sales process, like an elevator pitch. We’ll see in a moment the relationship between a value proposition and an elevator pitch.

Value proposition vs. other terms

Sometimes, people confuse a value proposition with other key terms used in marketing.

Before we dive into the importance of a value proposition and how to write one, let’s explore the difference between this essential marketing component and others.

Tagline

A tagline is a short, memorable phrase that helps customers associate the brand name with an idea.

Example: “KFC: It’s finger-lickin’ good.”

Slogan

A slogan is a short, memorable phrase associated with a specific marketing campaign, rather than the whole brand.

Example: Apple’s “There’s an app for that.”

Elevator pitch

An elevator pitch is a brief speech (less than 30 seconds, allegorically the time it takes for an elevator to reach your floor) that communicates your business or product’s idea, its benefits and the target audience. It might also include your core values and your value proposition.

Example: “We’re a scheduling app that helps freelancers quickly and easily book meetings with clients without all the back-and-forth emailing.”


Why is a value proposition important?

Businesses use value propositions to attract ideal customers because they tactfully communicate exactly what customers need to hear to do business with you. If you can’t communicate why customers should do business with you, you’re unlikely to sustain success in the long term and, therefore, business viability.

Internally, value propositions can align teams in decision-making.

For example, a well-written value proposition for an e-commerce app can inform the marketing team and any freelancers how best to frame messaging when creating a social media video. Any ideas that may venture away from the main message can be directed back to the point by keeping the value proposition in mind.

For startups and entrepreneurs, a solid value proposition can mean success or failure when applying for funding. The simple statement tells investors that you did your research and know exactly where your product sits in the marketplace.

An increasing number of businesses are now adopting employee value propositions, too. These are where businesses advertise themselves to new candidates and communicate their company values to win the best new hires in a competitive hiring market.

If you have a clear value proposition, it can make it easier to come up with an employee value proposition so your business is aligned across the board.


How to write a great value proposition

Regardless of whether you use your value proposition internally or externally, clarity is key. You bring all you need to communicate together and achieve this clarity with good research and excellent copywriting.

Many formulas for value propositions exist, but the early stages of the process should be broad. You can’t plug and play with a formula until you have the components nailed down.

Your value proposition creation process should always begin with market research. It’s this information, including data direct from the customer, that will help you differentiate the product or service from any competition.

Focus on answering the following questions:

  • How do you help your customers gain what they want to achieve?

  • How do you help your customers avoid pain?

  • What might stop your customers from doing business with your company?

  • What are their jobs to be done?

Once you can comprehensively answer these questions, the team can brainstorm concepts that successfully explain:

  • Who are you (your brand/your business)?

  • Who do you serve (your target audience)?

  • What does your audience need to achieve?

  • How can they do it with your product?

You want solid answers to the questions above. If there’s any disagreement on a direction, such as what jobs your customers need to achieve, survey your target audience or run interviews to get a better understanding.

It may even appear that you have several audiences with different motivations. That’s OK.

You can, and should, derive value propositions for each audience and later determine which you’ll focus on in your marketing strategy (often the most lucrative, but not always).

After you’ve identified the answers to these questions, you can try different versions of your value proposition using the templates below. Try several versions of each, tweak, adjust, share your value proposition and then tweak some more.

As we’ve said before, value propositions are a critical component of your business. It’s worth spending time to get it right.

Tips for writing an effective value proposition

An effective value proposition must distinguish a company from similar businesses offering similar products and services. Crafting a strong value proposition takes skill.

Here are some tips to keep in mind during the writing process.

  • Be clear, concise and specific: Your customers don’t have much time, so narrow down your main points and communicate just those as clearly as possible

  • Zero in on the target audience: Your customers will sense if your content speaks to them or a different audience entirely, so make sure you’ve narrowed down your audience

  • Communicate value to the customer: Keep the focus of your message in sight and communicate the most valuable information only (leave the lesser benefits to other marketing material)

  • Avoid overused buzzwords and jargon: Sometimes it’s difficult to notice when you use jargon, so interview your customers to learn how they talk about your product then use that language in your messaging

  • Cover the benefits over the features: An old marketing adage goes, “sell the sizzle, not the steak” (attributed to Elmer Wheeler) – meaning tell your customers the benefits they’ll get rather than explaining the feature that does it

A value proposition is a living, breathing entity. Periodically review your value proposition and evolve it as your market and company change.

Keep up to date with new competitors who may have gained a competitive advantage and keep your finger on the pulse of your customers with real-time feedback. Aim to learn about new pain points and how your product can solve them before they’ve saturated the market.


3 value proposition templates

Contrary to some belief, there are various ways to format value proposition statements. Some will include headlines and even images, while others will be one well-crafted line.

Always remember that clarity is key. If you keep that in mind, you can write your value proposition any way you want so long as you include:

  • Who does it help? Your product or service’s relevance or why it matters to your customer

  • How does it help? Your product or service’s uniqueness and how it’s different

  • What’s the value promise? What your product or service will do for them

Based on industry best practices, we’ve put together three value proposition templates. Use these as inspiration to help create your effective value proposition.

Template 1

We provide [product/service] for [target customer] who [statement of need or opportunity]

Example: We provide time-tracking software for SaaS startups who need more accurate hourly billing.



Template 2

For [target customer] + Who [statement of need or opportunity] + Our [product/service name]+ Is [product/service category] + That [statement of belief]

Example: For small business owners who need simple accounting software, our subscription software automatically tracks your expenses so that you can focus on what you do best.



Template 3

We help [target customer] do [statement of need or opportunity] with [service]

Example: We help freelance writers do more for their favorite brands with industry-specific outreach.


5 value proposition examples

Now that you know how to create your own value proposition, let’s examine some effective value propositions from well-known brands.

1. Asana

Asana is a platform for cross-functional work with a broad user base – a tough one to write a specific value prop for. The software can be used by solo entrepreneurs and large corporations for everything from product launches to marketing campaigns.

Asana boasts a range of tools, including calendars, timelines, automation, workload, boards and goals. Aiming to optimize a single statement to cover each feature required skill. Its diverse target market means Asana’s value proposition is intentionally broad:

Asana helps cross-functional teams overcome their organizational growing pains and ensures that goals, processes, and collaboration can continue to scale.
  • Who does it help? Cross-functional teams

  • How does it help? They can overcome their organizational growing pains

  • What’s the value promise? Ensure that goals, processes and collaboration continue to scale

2. Airbnb

Airbnb is an example of a value proposition for a company with two audiences.

On one side, the unique platform offers a space for hosts to rent their spare rooms and holiday homes for additional income. On the other, guests can book these spaces for a unique stay.

To satisfy both parts of the business model, Airbnb crafted the following message:

Airbnb exists to create a world where anyone can belong anywhere, providing healthy travel that is local, authentic, diverse, inclusive and sustainable.
  • Who does it help? Anyone (normally vague but the audience is very broad in this case)

  • How does it help? It provides healthy travel

  • What’s the value promise? Travel that’s local, authentic, diverse, inclusive and sustainable

3. Zapier

Zapier is a software product that allows users to integrate web applications to automate their workflows.

The software features an intuitive drag-and-drop editor and customizable workflow to help businesses scale their success. Zapier’s value proposition is:

Automate your possibilities. Easily connect the apps you use for work—saving you time, no code required.
  • Who does it help? People who work but who don’t want to code

  • How does it help? It uses automation and app connectivity

  • What’s the value promise? Save time without coding

4. Outfunnel

Outfunnel is a sales and marketing workflow platform designed with experienced professionals in mind. It combines data from different tools, helping users secure leads and plan the next actions.

Unlike other statements, Outfunnel uses a single sentence to communicate the benefits of the product. Outfunnel’s value proposition is:

Outfunnel makes it incredibly easy to unite your sales and marketing data, build 360-degree profiles of all your contacts, segment and score leads based on data from all your revenue apps, and plan the next best action with each lead.
  • Who does it help? People who regularly use sales and marketing data

  • How does it help? It unites data, profiles of all your contacts, lead scoring and segmentation

  • What’s the value promise? It makes all of this easy to do

5. Spreadly

Spreadly is a software company that allows companies to create and share digital business cards.

The company offers NFC cards and QR codes that users can share via email, messaging, SMS, etc. Spreadly’s value proposition is:

Digital business cards for companies. No designer, printing or app required. Setup within 2 minutes.
  • Who does it help? Companies

  • How does it help? It creates digital business cards

  • What’s the value promise? Quick setup and no fuss with designers, printers or additional apps


How to test your value proposition

Creating a value proposition is only the first step. Continually testing, adapting and tweaking the statement lasts the lifetime of the company.

A company should always test a value proposition against its target audience to measure its success. Collect data and analyze the key sales metrics (conversion rate, impressions, etc.) to determine its performance in the target market. Trial A/B and message testing to develop new iterations of the value proposition.

Think about updating the value proposition in the following scenarios:

  • When creating an initial value proposition. The first iteration of a value proposition is rarely the final result. It takes time to perfect a statement to meet the target market. Use A/B and message testing, explore focus groups and utilize data visualizations. Improve with each iteration of the value proposition until you reach a statement that you’re happy with.

  • When updating products/services. Updating products and services typically means a change (subtle or distinct) in the company. Whenever a product or service is updated, head back to the value proposition to review. You may find the statement no longer quite fits the business plan or company direction.

  • When entering new market segments. Similar to updating products and services, entering new market segments typically means company changes. New market segments often mean a seismic shift and the value proposition must reflect that. It’s best to alter these at the same time as the new segment entry.

  • When developing new products. Developing a new product is an exciting transition period for any company, but any transition period requires a rework of the value proposition


Value proposition FAQs

  • What is meant by a value proposition?
  • What is the purpose of a value proposition?
  • Does a value proposition have to fit the formula?
  • Is the value proposition for a company or a product?


Final thoughts

An effective value proposition can be the difference between new customers and losing a sale. It’s a promise, a short story about how the company can solve and determine customer pain points.

Great value propositions don’t stay static. They adapt and change with the market trends and target customers. It’s vital to carve out the time to audit the value proposition. Trial and test the statement and create reports to see what works best. Stay ahead of the curve with clever planning and real-time data.

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