The value proposition
What’s in it for me?
In simple terms the value proposition is about putting yourself in the shoes of the person who is going to read your copy and, from their perspective, asking the question: “what’s in it for me?”
The benefits of your service, product, or proposal should stand out to your reader with eye popping clarity. The value they see and feel is the fuel that drives them to invest the time in reading the body copy and engaging with your ‘call to action’. Your “value proposition” is not a motto or tagline. It’s not clever, and it’s definitely not vague.
A good example would be Apple’s famous iPhone pitch: “Every iPhone we’ve ever made – and we mean every single one – was built on the same belief. That a phone should be more than a collection of features. That, above all, a phone should be absolutely simple, beautiful and magical to use.”
Straight up, Apple is stating the benefits of their product to consumers. Who wouldn’t want a phone that is “magical to use”?
Does it embody your business mission?
You must also remember that the value proposition is about your values. It must embody your business mission and be consistent with everything that your product or service is, and what it stands for. If you look at the iPhone pitch you will notice that the companies values (“every iPhone we’ve ever made…” is “more than a set of features”) are seamlessly paired with consumer benefits; that is, a product that is “simple” and “beautiful”
Your job as writer is to find that special place where core business values and the values of your intended market connect. This point of synergy is ultimately what makes people interested in your product, service or proposal. It is the foundation of every marketing success story.
Dig into that most fundamental of human drives – desire. What is the one key benefit that will put a fire under your value proposition? It is true that “sex sells” but it would be more accurate to say that the underlying premise for most of our actions, is desire. Desire comes in many different flavours: for some it’s fast and loud, others it’s peaceful and considered, some like a bit of mystery. It is important to know exactly what resonates with your intended reader.
For instance, in the case of the iPhone, the line “beautiful and magical to use” is certainly meant to appeal to the consumer’s desire. How does it make you feel?
What makes your value proposition unique?
Does your value proposition clearly differentiate you from the competition in at least one specific way? Remember it’s not about putting anybody else down; you just need to shine that little bit brighter than the rest. The age of IT means that most people will consult ‘Dr Google’. Gone is the time of the passive consumer. People will do their own research and make choices driven by individualistic desires. If they see that what you are offering is different to everyone else, they are much more likely to bite.
Apple iPhone’s header reads “There’s nothing quite like iPhone” – it’s a bold statement but they go to great lengths to back it up by continually developing new features and benefits. A good example would be iPhone’s thumb-print security feature. Most android phones now have biometric security but Apple was the first to introduce it and, at the time had a unique value proposition; very secure, no fiddly pin numbers, very cool.
Can you back it up?
Is your value proposition supported by at least one piece of concrete data? Guarantee that what you are stating is not just hot air. You might want to reference a university study, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, some data that you have collected yourself (i.e. customer feedback survey) or some other valid source of evidence. This snippet of evidence is often what sticks in a reader’s mind, especially when they are recommending or trying to justify their engagement with the product or service to someone else.
Is your value proposition clear, concise, and memorable? There is no need for fancy vocabulary, a clever ‘play on words’, or colourful analogies. In fact, these tactics will only dilute the impact of your core message. A simple and direct statement that is well-punctuated is always the best way to sell an idea.