As marketers, we’re often guilty of spending too much time planning how to execute our campaigns that we neglect a fundamental element of what makes them successful: the value proposition.
Let’s get back to basics.
Paris, Autumn 2008. Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp were attending the LeWeb annual tech conference.
After taking in the Parisienne sights, the two close friends needed a taxi. Actually finding one – with little knowledge of the city or the French language – proved troublesome.
Then came their eureka moment; technology was better than ever, but the taxi industry was frustratingly inconvenient, not just in Paris but in towns and cities across the world.
The concept of Uber was born, and its message – its value proposition – was clear: ‘Move the way you want’.
Ten years on and the app-based taxi service boasts 3.6m regular users in the UK alone.
Let’s dig into that success a bit more. There’s gold to be found.
An important marketing message
There’s an important distinction to make here: Value propositions aren’t slogans. They are marketing messages that tell your customers who you are and why they should choose you over the competition.
They communicate, in no uncertain terms, what you are offering and how it can improve the lives of the buyer.
Value propositions aren’t slogans. They are messages that tell your customers who you are and why they should choose you over the competition.
Most businesses will have a top-line proposition. That is, a general brand message used to position and differentiate their business. Here are some you might know:
- iPhone Xs – ‘Welcome to the big screens’
- Spotify – ‘Music for everyone’
- Evernote – ‘Remember everything’
You get the idea. Arguably, though, these propositions don’t convey the features or benefits of the product or service itself. They’re more of a brand statement or marketing strapline.
Uber and Evernote, the value proposition experts
So, what’s going on here? Let’s take a closer look at Uber and Evernote as examples.
Uber, the well-known app-based taxi service, has stolen chunks of market share from traditional taxi companies. But why? Reliability, speed and price come to mind.
Traditional London taxi firms have a notoriously bad rep in exactly these areas. In need of a taxi on Saturday night in Clapham? It’ll be there in two hours, and it’ll cost more than your evening meal – If you’re lucky.
Uber’s technology enables them to overcome these problems, and their marketing value proposition takes full advantage of this:
‘Get a reliable ride in minutes, at any time and on any day of the year. Compare prices on every kind of ride, from daily commutes to special evenings out’.
Evernote started life as a simple note-taking app. In 2007 when the company launched its website, the value proposition was simple: ‘Take notes and snapshots’.
But with hundreds of similar apps on the market, why should anyone choose Evernote? The company had to constantly evolve and differentiate to survive. As a result, their proposition has evolved too.
Nowadays, the service is more of a digital life organiser. It provides features like note-taking, image storage, project management, lists and event management all rolled into one.
Here’s Evernote’s latest value proposition:
‘Manage everything from big projects to personal moments. Capture ideas and inspiration in notes, voice, and pictures. Never lose track of your tasks and deadlines’.
The differentiation here is somewhat juxtaposed. A kind of complex simplicity, if you will.
Building your own marketing value proposition
As a marketing agency we spend a significant amount of time helping our clients create alluring value propositions. The outcomes of our professional input here are:
- Much higher levels of engagement from potential buyers
- Better returns for our client’s investment into marketing.
Let’s look at how to create a strong value proposition.
The first step is to understand what your customers love about you. After all, they’re the experts on what influenced them to buy from you in the first place! You’ll need to survey your customers, asking questions like:
- Why did you choose to buy from us?
- What made us stand out from the competition?
- What problems did your purchase solve?
- What have the best benefits of purchasing?
- If you were going to recommend us to a friend, what would you tell them and why?
- Did anything almost convince them NOT to buy from you?
This is where the gold is. With this information, you can shape your value proposition quickly and effectively. Our clients often roll their eyes when we mention that last question – why focus on a negative? Rest assured though, it’s critical in shaping a value proposition which both conveys benefits and appeases objections.
The first step in creating an effective value proposition is to understand what your customers love about you.
There are four things to consider when creating an effective value proposition.
- It should communicate key features and benefits: Your value proposition should describe the most desirable features and benefits of what you do. Avoid technobabble, acronyms or complex words.
- It should solve problems and demonstrate value: Get in the shoes of your potential customers. Consider how your product or service adds value to their lives. There are quite a few different options here such as time savings, financial gain and personal wellbeing.
- It should be unique: It’s important to assess the marketplace to see how unique – if at all – your value proposition is. Market research and competitor analysis will tell you most of what you need to know. If you serve a very crowded marketplace, consider using statistics and data to differentiate your business from others.
- It should appease objections: Understanding the ‘pain-gain’ concept is key to this. Most potential buyers, whether business or consumer, will think of reasons not to buy from you. This could be price, time, risk, trust or complacency. The challenge here is to understand what your customer’s biggest objection is and to overcome it in a single statement.
Putting it into practice: Test and launch
You’ve crafted something beautiful; time to test it!
There are a huge number of ways you can do this, from asking friends and family to surveying customers.
If you have the budget, ad campaigns on Google or Facebook provide reliable and valuable results. The data you get from this exercise will be invaluable in helping you understand which message(s) best resonate with your audience.
Split testing is a great choice at this stage. When clients ask us to help them build a new value proposition, we’ll work with them to craft several different variations which are then split tested.
In a recent client project, we tested different value propositions centred around three different themes. One theme was a lifestyle message, the other a benefit-focused product statement and the third – our ‘wildcard’ – was based on price.
Testing in this way will provide peace of mind; you’ve probably got more than one idea for your value proposition to experiment with. Split testing is win-win: If some messages fail, they still benefit you by helping to home in on the core of your most effective message.
Split testing is win-win: If some messages fail, they still benefit you by helping to home in on the core of your most effective message.
Before you know it, you’ll have a record of what works and what doesn’t. This will transform your value proposition efforts from guesswork into science, with factual data that verifies the strongest components of your company’s offering.
Presenting your value proposition to the world
Unfortunately, there isn’t a single blueprint for success here. There are, however, certain components and rules you should understand before launching your exciting new value proposition.
It’s important to consider how your value proposition looks, both in print and online.
Visuals and typographic (text) hierarchy will help your customers absorb information more easily.
Let’s start with the structure. Your value proposition should start with a headline and supporting images, illustration or icons. Text headings, subheadings and bullet points work well to improve comprehension and accentuate your core message.
A well-structured typographic hierarchy helps you capture users as they browse your website, read your brochure or watch your presentation.
Let’s look at how Uber does theirs.
Immediately clear. Easy to read. Unique. It tells you everything you need to know to make a decision. A textbook example.
Class is over
Getting your value proposition right sets the stage for success in all your marketing efforts, so it’s best done sooner rather than later. Time to go forth and conquer. Do your research, get your pen out, start creating and get ready to take over the world!
For more information on building a strong value proposition, including ways you can promote it to get more customers, check out our lead generation guide. It’s free and, if you ask us, rather good.