Let’s get straight to the point: creating a value proposition is hard; creating a great value proposition takes blood, sweat, and tears. A successful value proposition helps to bring your brand and product together in the right context to deliver a great Product Market Fit.
If you’re living your product or service, and it’s often difficult to take a step back from your day-to-day business activities. However, taking a step back is key to developing a successful value proposition that resonates with your audience and positions your product or service for success. Below, I’ve put together a list of the top five reasons why value propositions don’t live up to their promise – it’d be great to get your feedback!
Have you validated the problem with your proposed audience? Is there an opportunity in the market for your product? Does your product, brand and value proposition mesh together as one to entice your prospect into reading more about your products and services? If you can say yes to the above, you have potential – but if you do not speak to your audience’s needs, you are going to miss out on opportunities to grow your business.If you do not speak to your audience's needs, you are going to miss out on opportunities to grow… Click To Tweet
You can find this out by asking qualification questions – it is not what your audience says that really matters, it is how they say it. Buyers don’t know what they want until they see it, so you’ll see the quality of feedback improve as you get closer to the nose.
Have you clearly articulated the problem are you trying to solve, and how you plan to solve it? Have you done this in less than 30 words? If you’ve answered no to either of the above questions, you need to start thinking deeper in order to find a reason for prospective buyers to care enough to want to read more.
The reality is that nobody cares about you or what you’re trying to sell – they want to know the answer to the age-old question: “What’s In It For Me?” (WIIFM?). If you can’t answer that, then nobody is going to give a crap about what you’re trying to sell them, because the reality is that nobody likes being sold to.
How are you different to your competitors? How do you solve your prospects’ problems better than anyone else on the market? This is all about creating value – if you’re leading the discussion on price, then you are missing opportunities to take price out of the equation.
Key to this, especially in business to business environments, is speaking the right language at the right time to the right people – the CEO probably doesn’t care how the product works, but they might want to understand how it can unlock value. To the same extent, the user really cares how every part of the product works, but they have very little interest in how it will increase revenue or profit.
If a buyer purchases your product, what impact will it make? What are the expected outcomes? When can the buyer expect to see a return? What might that return look like?
If you haven’t discussed the answers to these questions then you’re quite likely not getting to the point, and certainly not answering WIIFM. How can you unlock value for buyers? How can it make the buyer more effective or efficient? Can it reduce other costs or complexities?
Value propositions need to be tight because every word that is superfluous is a chance that the value you can deliver is misconstrued or misunderstood. You have about 2 seconds to gain the attention of your audience through the heading(s), and about 10 seconds to hold it – if you haven’t delivered the core of your value proposition inside 10 seconds, you’re missing out on potential opportunities.
It will take some time to get your value proposition to the point, so don’t expect to strike gold overnight. What you can do, though, is to test different versions of your value proposition on your website with A/B or multivariate testing. On lower traffic websites, you’ll get more accurate results from fewer variations, so keep it simple and only change one thing at a time.
This sounds daunting, right? It doesn’t have to be – a great value proposition can convey all of the above without fluff. The best tool I’ve come across for this is Strategyzer’s Canvas. What this does is it really strips back your product and service to the basics by focusing first on the problem you’re trying to solve, as well as the buyer’s gains and pains before positioning your product directly against these gains and pains.
For every solution, there needs to be a problem – many businesses try to build a business first and then think about what product they’re going to sell. Actually, you need to figure out whether there’s an opportunity for a business to exist in the first place – sell something first, and then build a business around the product you sold!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on what does and doesn’t make a great value proposition!
Further reading: I highly recommend reading Alexander Osterwalder’s book on Value Proposition Design.