10 Experts Weigh In: What’s the Best Way to Find a Killer Value Proposition?
At Convert, we power A/B tests for thousands of websites. And work with dozens of top tier agencies.
Bottom-line – we know stuff about testing.
Sometimes conversion rate optimization can try your patience (like months to get results, false positives etc.etc). But sometimes little things like changing how people think of your products (and brand) can rake in quick rewards.
This is why we have a deep interest in value propositions. And love to learn more about positioning from the people who know what they’re talking about.
So here’s an in-depth round up of answers to the question we’d all like to unpack – “What’s the best way to find a killer value proposition?”
We know all the framing practices. But do we know what the experts fall back on when they need to clarify a USP?
Now we do!
(Responses are listed in no particular order).
#1: Tim Zuidgeest
Making good marketing even better by using neuromarketing. ST&T Research, https://www.sttresearch.nl/en
From a psychological perspective, first an advice to prevent a huge mistake. And after that an advice from a testing point of view.
We see it happening all the time. Because there is a big ‘Why’ mission, Value Propositions tend to be really ‘vague’. Lines like ‘Because you’re worth it’, routinely cross our paths. And while this serves familiar brands, it doesn’t serve rather unknown brands.
Take Airbnb for example. For more than 7 years, their slogan was something along the lines of this very specific Value Proposition: ‘Book rooms from local hosts’. If they made it so specific, so can you.
We really like testing. But we also see marketeers testing Headlines on their websites, and not getting some significant effect. This makes sense, since almost everyone will visit your homepage. So in light of testing, why not test it on other platforms?
We often end up testing 10 or more Value Propositions on Facebook, LinkedIn or AdWords. And the one that gets the most clicks, often wins. Even if we test it with EEG (neuromarketing) after, we can see that the one that gets the most positive evaluation, is the one that gets clicked on the most.
Suggested Resource : We teamed up with Tim to pick his brain about how he picks brains. Here’s the webinar “Neuromarketing: Subconscious Forces that Make Audience Convert”.
#2: Tom Shapiro
CEO, Stratabeat, https://stratabeat.com/ and Author of “Rethink Your Marketing”
There are three essential, integrated strategies for uncovering and defining your unique value proposition. The first is to understand your audience in as much detail as possible. This means understanding your different audience segments, and the personas associated with each segment. For each persona, work to understand their top goals and biggest challenges. Then map their journey, step by step. Gain a firm understanding of why they search on certain phrases, why they click what they click, and why they do what they do.
The second strategy is to build a brand stack. What are your core values? Your positioning? Your capabilities? Your customer promise? Your mission? Etc.
The third strategy is to analyze the competitive landscape. It’s not just about understanding their products and services. It’s about understanding each competitor’s positioning, differentiation, messaging, strengths, and weaknesses.
With these three foundational elements in place, you’ll be able to define a strong value proposition. It’s not good enough to offer something of value to your audience if many of your competitors offer the same thing. Similarly, it’s not good enough to have strong differentiation if it doesn’t resonate deeply and strongly enough with your audience. Capture whitespace in the market with solutions that empower your audience or eliminate their problems, articulate the solutions in a highly memorable way, and double down on them to ensure that your value proposition is strong and substantive longer-term.
#3: Branden Moskwa
Award winning eCommerce Accelerator & Podcast Host, nadimo.com
It is imperative that a value Proposition be extremely CLEAR and CONCISE.
It needs to speak directly to the person reading it, making them want to read more, while avoiding industry jargon. It needs to clearly articulate how its different or better and WHY YOU!
I like to think of it like this, first you need the Headline the eye catcher, 6-8 words max that clearly speaks to the audience. Then you expand on this in a single sentence that really encapsulates the points previously mentioned.
#4: Chris Makara
Since 2003, Chris Makara has developed a broad digital marketing background with a focus on SEO, Social Media, and Analytics. He is the founder of Bulkly, a social media automation tool for individuals and small businesses.
For me, one of the best ways to find a value proposition is to ask others what their pain point(s) are. From there, you can position your product or solution in such a way that the potential customer can easily associate their problems to be resolved with your solution.
This way the customer doesn’t have to think too much about how or why they need your service. They just “get it” after reading a few lines and will convert a lot easier than messaging that is disconnected from their key pain points.
Suggested Resource: Go check out Chris’ guide on “Applying A/B Testing to Social Media”.
#5: Sam Hurley
Sam Hurley is a lateral-thinking, people-focused digital marketer — holding solid experience in both agency and client-side settings. He now runs his own global personal branding and influencer marketing business: OPTIM-EYEZ. Catch Sam on Twitter and LinkedIn for cosmic amounts of helpful material on entrepreneurship and marketing!
First, I believe a value proposition shouldn’t actually be ‘found’ — it needs to stem from the very heart of the product or service you are offering (and your company).
~ Rewind back to the initial validation of your business model, and the value prop should be plain as day if your offering serves a real purpose. ~
If this is the case, OPTIMIZING a value proposition, rather than CREATING one — is a much easier (and viable) task.
Here are my 3 core tips:
#1: As above, does your value prop pass the ‘so what’ test?
Does your target audience even care?! Could you verbally communicate your value in <5 seconds, and would the other person not only understand, but become intrigued..?
If the answer is no, it’s time to optimize.
#2: Your value proposition needs to be short, snappy, and memorable. No jargon or strings of sentences that really don’t mean anything. No generic ‘save time & money’. ** FACEPALM **
Most businesses offer these things. It’s not true value in the eyes of visitors or passers by; they witness it all the time, and it’s what they (at very least) expect…
~ Value is the differentiation you can create between YOUR business and COMPETITORS; the edge this gives you that WOWS potential customers. ~
THINK: 2 – 6 punchy, highly descriptive words (WHAT) — followed by a short sentence of (WHY).
A great example?
Infusionsoft has recently rebranded to make everything simpler to understand. Its previous site was quite complex, with language more targeted to techie enterprise peeps (at least, so it seemed).
Its homepage value prop now? Straight to the point:
Manage your customers and your business in one place: Infusionsoft.
~ Your value prop is no place for silly long words or generic waffle. ~
This one should go without saying!
Use a tool like Convert to split test your value prop to see which performs better in terms of conversion + acquisition.
NOTE: Conduct competitor research. Speak to your target audiences. Gather 3-5 versions first, in alignment with their opinions. Test, and find the best. Then, test variations of the winner. Continually gather feedback from website visitors / customers for best results!
Your testing process is NEVER complete.
Suggested Resource: Interested in what Sam shared? Go ahead and check out his take on what marketers need to know about the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
#6: Shane Barker
Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in sales funnels, targeted traffic, and website conversions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.
Your value proposition forms the core of your competitive advantage. It is not a slogan, tagline, or way to position yourself in the market.
It clearly outlines the reasons why somebody would want to use your products or services instead of those of your competitors.
But how do you write one? I’d suggest trying to answer these questions.
- What are all the benefits of your product or service?
- Why are these benefits valuable?
- Which customer related problem are you trying to solve with your product or service?
- Why should customers choose your solution over those provided by your competitors?
Personally, I think it’s important to come up with a value proposition for your products or services. It’ll help you gain better insights into your product/service. It will also help you identify your ideal audience and market your product or service better.
Suggested Resource: Shane is a master of positioning products and experiences for defined target segments. Read about his top 6 personalization recommendations to improve conversions.
#7: Raphael Paulin-Daigle
Raphael Paulin-Daigle is the founder of SplitBase, a conversion optimization agency that helps fashion, lifestyle and luxury brands sell more online through their Testing Trifecta Methodology. They’ve added millions to the bottom lines of their clients, which includes leading brands like Kiehl’s, Mackage, Lancome, Frank & Oak and Yves Saint Laurent.
The first step in finding a killer value proposition is not to write a value proposition right away. More often than not, trying to come up with anything off the top of your head won’t lead to something worthy. There needs to be thought and research that goes into it.
When helping clients out with identifying a value proposition, I ask them to think about questions they don’t always think about. For example, I’ll ask:
- What makes your business unique?
- Why would customers buy from you instead of your competitors?
- How would your customers describe your company?
Now here’s the deal; these questions look simple, but most people struggle to respond clearly. And even when they find an answer, they’ll often assume without taking customer feedback into consideration.
This is where I encourage businesses to survey and talk to their customers, and ask them these questions. Doing this, you’ll get to truly understand how people see your company and why they buy from you. Surprise! It may be completely different from what you initially thought.
Only after this is done, do I recommend opening a blank document, and writing as many possible value propositions as possible based on what your customers have been telling you, and how you want your company to be perceived and positioned.
From there, narrow down the list and if possible, A/B test to see which is truly a winner.
#8: Talia Wolf
Talia Wolf is a conversion optimization specialist and the founder of GetUplift. She uses customer-driven strategies, emotional targeting and online behavior analysis to generate more revenues, leads and sales for her clients. Talia’s taught on stages such as Google, MozCon, CTAconf, Search Love and many more and was recently listed as one of the most influential experts in the world for conversion optimization. https://getuplift.co/conversion-optimization-resources/
While most brands think their value proposition is the product or service they’re offering, the most successful brands understand that people don’t buy products, they buy better versions of themselves. What people really care about isn’t the features or pricing, it’s the emotional gain. For example, it’s not about the insurance policy you’re selling, it’s about giving people peace of mind, it’s not about the clothes people buy, it’s about their self esteem.
To identify your value proposition and create high-converting customer journeys, you must understand your customers beyond their behavior (the pages they visit, the device they’re using or geographical location) and understand their their emotional-drivers; their pain, fears and emotional needs. Go beyond the first layer and dig deeper into understanding who your customers are and what they need most.
The most important questions you should ask and answer are:
- What pain does my customer feel before finding a solution?
- What are the emotional triggers that drive her decision-making?
- What are her main fears, concerns and hesitations?
- How does she want to feel once she finds a solution?
To answer these questions you need to conduct customer interviews, run onsite surveys, identify psychological triggers that affect decision-making and connect their online behavior to the emotions they’re feeling.
Remember that your value proposition should follow two rules:
- Make it about them – You’re not the hero of the story, your customer is.
- Don’t just say it, make people feel it. Use every element on your page to convey the emotions that drive your customer’s purchasing decisions most.
Suggested Resource: Talia Wolf is the CRO expert to the CRO experts. Check out her webinar “Emotional Triggers: How to Make Your Funnel Irresistible”.
#9: Shanelle Mullin
Shanelle Mullin is a jill-of-all-trades marketer working on content and growth at Shopify, www.shopify.com
A strong value proposition meets three criteria:
- It’s specific: What are the specific benefits the customer will receive?
- It’s pain-focused: How will your product fix the customer’s problem or improve her life?
- It’s exclusive: How is it both desirable and exclusive? How does it set you apart from your competitors?
A truly effective value proposition uses voice of customer copy and focuses on real benefits, not hype. Most importantly, an effective value proposition is unquestionably clear. It should clearly answer the following questions:
- What product are you selling?
- Who should buy your product?
- How will buying your product improve the visitor or her life?
- Why should the visitor buy from you and not your competitors?
- When will the value be delivered?
If you’re struggling to find your value proposition, start with one question: what do I do better than anyone else?
#10: Lianna Patch
Lianna Patch, Head Puncher, Punchline Conversion Copywriting, www.punchlinecopy.com
There are a lot of super useful formulas for helping refine a value prop! One of my favorites is “The [BENEFIT/ADJECTIVE] way to [DESIRED OUTCOME]”. For, say, a company that sells rocket ships, that might look like: “The Safest Way to Get Your Family to the Moon.”
And sometimes — especially if you’re in a competitive niche — the words your customers use to describe you can help you define your UVP. Look for “sticky,” unusual words or phrases in places where customers give feedback (like reviews, survey answers, and interviews).
Testing it Out
After you’ve found your value proposition, spend some time to write a few variations — and test.
As so many experts on this list recommend, only testing can help you find that “winning” version.
If we had to recommend a website to run an A/B test, we’d most probably suggest testing the USP as we routinely see websites getting big lifts from just a few small tweaks to the value proposition alone.
So what’s your favorite tip from the list? Tell us in the comments!
P.S. When SplitBase added a more result oriented proposition to BetterSelf.Co’s flagship product,conversions increased by 27% across channels. Read the full case study to discover how a small change can drive big results.