Before we get into how to write a unique value proposition to differentiate your company from the competition let’s first clarify what a value proposition is.
Put simply, they are short concise statements that clearly explain the benefits of a product or service to a customer and how it will help solve a problem. A strong value proposition will help a company stand out in the process of the buyer journey showing that what you offer is more valuable to the customer than your competitors.
Value proposition vs mission statement
There might appear to be similarities between a value proposition and a mission statement but really a value proposition will focus more on the product or service you offer and the value it brings to a customer while a mission statement emphasises the objective of an organisation and sets out a clear business goal.
The lines can get a little blurred when comparing both so to explore this further let’s take a look at our own value proposition and company mission statement.
Our value proposition is:
We are a strategy-led full-service web agency specialising in the B2B and professional services sectors using the latest tools and technologies to resolve your pipeline challenges and accelerate sales funnel success.
Our mission statement is:
To partner in the growth of your business by engaging actively with you on strategy and implementation to drive transformational sales and marketing results for your business.
Our value proposition highlights we are sales funnel specialists passionate about tackling and resolving your sales funnel issues while our business goal is results-oriented and centred around delivering positive outcomes for our clients.
So what are the differentiating factors between a unique value proposition and a unique selling proposition?
Value proposition vs unique selling proposition
While a value proposition prioritises the product's value to the customer a USP spells out why customers should choose your company and your product or service over your competitors.
The term USP was famously coined by American advertiser Rosser Reeves who, funnily enough, was the inspiration for Mad Men's Don Draper. Reeves recognised that increasing competition made it more difficult for companies to get attention for their products, so by describing how your product or service was superior to others in the market, a USP could help set your product apart and create brand loyalty.
Let’s move this along to how to write a great value proposition that will demonstrate how your product provides value to your customer and will help drive sales and profit for your business.
Value proposition canvas
To write a great value proposition use a value proposition canvas. This is a simple visual tool that helps centre your product or service around the needs and values of your customer.
It involves creating a customer profile that you can use to resemble your target buyer and distract relevant and important information such as the job they do, their expectations of how the product or service will benefit them, and their possible pain points.
It looks like this...
The circle is split into three parts
Customer jobs, pains and gains. Jobs refers to the types of tasks a customer can complete with your product. Pains represent the problem your product will help solve, while gains describe the benefits the customer will get from using your product.
Incidentally, Swedish entrepreneur and leading business thinker Alexander Osterwalder developed the Business Model Canvas in 2005 and its purpose is to bridge the gap between the value you intend to create and your customer expectations.
Outline how you intend to create value by addressing customers’ pain points or by creating gains for the customer that will enhance the customer’s life professionally or personally from using your product or service.
Marketers use it to build an in-depth profile of their customers and it has many advantages including:
Creating a product in line with what your customer needs and wants
Saving time and money by avoiding producing something that no one wants
Finding the best market fit for your product or service
How the value proposition canvas works
The value proposition canvas is made up of two parts, the customer profile and the value map. The profile is used to visualise and track the customers you want to create value for. It describes the jobs your customer is trying to get done, whether this is functional, social or emotional, as in well-being. In highlighting your customer's pains, you pinpoint the negative outcomes that your customers want to avoid, or obstacles hindering their progress. Customer gains are positive outcomes, aspirations or goals your customer wants to achieve.
The value map helps you list the products and services your value proposition is built on. Describe how they are pain relievers, and how they eliminate pains and make customers’ lives easier. You also need to outline how they are gain creators and will deliver positive outcomes and benefits customers want or expect.
The value map determines how your products or services will relieve pains and create gains so you can apply this knowledge to craft a value proposition that gets the right kind of attention.
A great example of a powerful value proposition is from Apple: “The best experiences. Only on Apple.” Apple’s aspirational value proposition highlights that the product offers a unique experience to Apple customers.
Apple’s value proposition might seem very succinct but having spent decades crystallising its messaging over time Apple’s customers know why they love the product. Naturally, lesser-known companies need to be more in-depth in describing the benefits of a product or service and how it will be of use to the customer.
Best practices when writing a value proposition
Get the stickies out! Colour coding and using different colour post-its for different elements will help you create a visual map in each of the boxes for say Customer Jobs, Pains, and Products & Services. By combining images with words, you can create a helpful guide to help your brain process the information quicker. If you add customer research into the mix you will gain a deeper insight and understanding of your customer base to create a bigger picture of the value proposition you want to make.
One top tip when writing up a value proposition is to try not to address every single customer pain point as that would reduce the statement’s effectiveness. To create a powerful proposition you’ll get better results by focusing on a limited number of pain relievers and gain creators.
But writing a great value proposition and effectively communicating the benefits of your product or service involves incorporating several key elements to make your product or service stand out in the competitive market. These are identifying your customer's pain point, the benefits your product offers, what makes these products valuable to the customer, and how the product’s value will help solve the customer's problem.
Ultimately, you need to remember that the goal of writing your value proposition is to make your product or service stand out from the crowd and make existing customers and prospective customers choose you over your competitors.