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What is a Value Proposition and Why Does Your Business Need One?

You know that your company is awesome.

You’re positive that your products and services are shades better than your competitors. And you know the brand you’ve slaved over has a meaningful and relatable story. You know those things, but everyone else might not.

When your target audience comes across your brand for the first time, they likely know nothing about it. This is why you need a strong value proposition to help sway them. A powerful value proposition relays to your ideal customer the unique benefits of your company in a short and sweet manner.

It helps tell people what you provide, who you provide it to, and why you’re better than the competition. Your core value proposition should be part of your business plan. But before you can include it, you need to take time to write one.

What is a value proposition?

A good value proposition is important for every business to have. It’s often the first thing prospective customers that prospects come across. A value proposition is simply a statement of value that you provide to a prospective customer. It answers the question of “why” they should do business with you. Think of a value proposition as the promise you are making to your customer when they buy your product or service.

What makes for a great value proposition?

Whether you’re working on an online business or just started your own window cleaning service, a good value proposition should give you an advantage over competitors. But it’s important that it doesn’t focus on bringing competitors down. There’s nothing that says “lazy marketing” faster than a value proposition that focuses on rubbishing your competitors instead of highlighting the value of your company.

Effective value propositions should be:

  • Concise and easy to understand
  • Define what your business or product does
  • Explain how your product or service solves a pain point

It should be easy to find out what your company does online, so your value proposition needs to be easily accessible and prominently displayed on your website. Your value statement also needs to identify all the benefits of your product or service in a way that’s quick and digestible—forgo any jargon.

How to write a unique value proposition

Writing a value proposition can seem daunting at first. You need to pack a ton of information into a concise statement that will compel your audience to take action. To top it all off, you want to do this in 50 words or fewer!

Keep in mind that on its own, your value proposition probably won’t make the sale—its actual goal is to convince your target audience to take the next step. This could be buying a product, but will more likely be learning more about your product or business.

Below is an incredibly basic formula you can use to get started on writing your value proposition. Start with a simple statement to describe your value proposition, then give it some flair to encapsulate your promise:

We help [target audience] with [target audience’s objective] through [add your unique selling proposition].

When you start working with this formula, you want to focus on the following:

  • The target audience should be as specific as possible, otherwise, you could end up putting in work to attract the wrong audience.
  • To write a clear target objective, determine the immediate needs of your target customer, then speak to that need.
  • The unique selling proposition should explain the value you provide for your products or services. This is a solution unique to you and your business.

Start by simply filling in the formula, then do some editing and re-working so you’re conveying the same idea with more personality.

For example, Ownr’s value proposition, written like this, could be something like:

We help Canadian entrepreneurs with starting, growing, and managing their business through easy online registration and on-demand professional services.

This is a legitimate value proposition, but it’s a little chunky and not that memorable. But if you visit the Ownr’s homepage, you’ll find a simple, easy to understand, and compelling company value proposition:

Start, manage, and grow your business with Ownr.

With a quick line of added context that helps build on it:

Show the world you mean business. Register, incorporate, create legal agreements, manage employees, and more—all in one place.

Note that it’s okay for your business to have multiple value propositions, especially if you sell a variety of products or services—each offering will solve a different problem and could be directed at a different target market segment.

For example, while Apple’s overall company value proposition is providing a unique technology experience through their products, each one has a slightly different audience and solves a distinct problem.

5 tips for writing a unique value proposition

Here are five steps to help you write your unique value proposition for your business:

1. Determine the needs of your target audience

If you don’t clearly understand who your target audience is and what their needs are, your value proposition won’t speak to them the way you need it to. So, before you dig into your value statement, get to know your audience inside and out.

You want to determine what the current priorities of your audience are, what pain points they have, and the budget they’re working with. Find out who they are, why your product or service would improve their life, and solve an issue they’re having.

This information can be determined a few different ways, but one of the most effective is to simply ask them. Use surveys, online forums and even email marketing to touch base with your target audience and ask them what they need and how you can help.

2. Clearly identify your unique offering

Your unique offering is the reason why you write a value proposition. You need to relay what you do and how you do it differently to your target audience. Without identifying your unique offering, you could end up sounding like just another small business trying to make it.

To identify your unique offering, you want to look at your mission statement and core values. This is a great place to determine what differentiates your business from the competition.

3. Use the right language

The language you use is important. It should not only reflect your brand, but it needs to be in a form that your audience understands.

If you’re writing a value proposition for a target audience of C-suite bankers, the language you use will be very different from if you were writing for an audience of social media-loving Gen Zers.

That said, you don’t want to come on too strong. The language you use needs to be authentic to your branding or you could come off like the trying-too-hard-to-be-cool dad from pretty much every TV sitcom.

4. Opt for clarity over creativity

The sweet spot for a compelling value proposition is one that marries clarity and creativity. But that can be challenging, especially if you’re a new business owner taking your first crack at it. With that in mind, err on the side of clear, not creative.

Creativity can be a ton of fun in marketing, so long as the underlying message for the target buyer remains clear. But having a creative or clever value proposition, even if it’s fun and memorable, is not effective if it doesn’t clearly explain your unique offering.

If you’re new to the entrepreneurial world and you’re just taking your first crack at developing your initial value proposition, aim for delivering a clear message to your potential customer, instead of creating something more creative.

5. Presentation matters

Finally, how you present your value proposition matters.

While you want to keep it at 50 words or fewer, you also want to make sure your words are visually appealing. A big block of black text won’t be enticing to your audience and most people probably won’t end up reading it.

To help break this down, use ample white space (see the text breaks and placement of Ownr’s home page) and feel free to use visuals to help catch the reader’s eye.

Examples of strong value propositions

Everywhere you look, there are great examples of value propositions. Take a peek at three big brands and see how they position themselves:

1. Slack

Slack’s value proposition has changed over the years. Way back when (circa 2014) they focused on bringing teams together, so they enjoyed working remotely. However, in more recent years, with the focus on remote work environments, they’ve doubled down on committing to being your “digital HQ.”

A quick glance over their main landing page reveals a two-line value proposition:

Welcome to your digital HQ for success from anywhere

Transform the way you work with one place for everyone and everything you need to get stuff done.

Slack combines the promise of success in a digital work environment by transforming how your team works together. You can connect everyone and everything that your team needs to be able to work together.

2. Square

Founded in 2009, Square has evolved and today their value proposition positions them as the go-to when it comes to growing your business financially.

A visit to their landing page reveals that they promise “the future of business is yours to shape”—but while that’s a little vague, if you scroll down, they define how they help you accomplish this. According to their value proposition, Square helps you:

  • Start reaching more customers online
  • Accept orders online, over the phone, or via email
  • Get paid fast, no matter where you are

3. Shopify

Shopify is another product that offers a simple value statement right when you land on their homepage:

The platform commerce is built on

More than a million of the world’s most successful brands trust Shopify to sell, ship, and process payments anywhere.

They demonstrate their value by focusing on the fact that “more than a million of the world’s most successful brands” use Shopify. This conveys to prospective customers that they’re in good company if they chose to build their next eCommerce venture with them.

Simply stating this alone is probably not enough to convince someone to sign up. However, if you scroll down, you can see live examples of brands that use Shopify for their stores.

Creating a high-converting value proposition

Your value proposition needs to be clear enough so your audience can tell what you’re saying, compelling enough that their interest is piqued and powerful enough to encourage a conversion. It might not sell something right off the bat, but that initial meeting (which takes place without you being present) is the first step in your relationship with future customers.

If you’re ready to take that value proposition, put it out into the world, and make your dream a reality, Ownr can help. We make it easy for entrepreneurs to register their business so they can start providing converting prospects into customers!

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