The Art of Building Your Value Proposition: Definitions And Tools

The value proposition is often defined as a "promise," a promise of value, and the customer's belief in the value or benefits expected.

Why your value proposition is important

Your website represents your business 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Like any representative, your website must succeed in capturing the attention of your target audience. And to achieve this, it only has a few seconds. On the internet, the average attention span is under 8 seconds. That means you have 8 seconds to convince visitors to stay on your site, and not go looking elsewhere.

The best technique for meeting this challenge is to formulate a clear and powerful value proposition. In this article, we will address several points, starting to define what exactly is a “value proposition”. Then, we will see how to formulate and design an effective value proposition by analyzing several examples. We will give you some final tools/methods to create a unique value proposition.

How does your product stack up to the competition?

Get the 2019 Product Benchmarks report to learn more.

Download Report

What is a value proposition?

The value proposition is often defined as a promise of value, as well as the customer’s belief in the value (benefits) expected. 

To formulate an effective value proposition, you must first have a clear understanding of the desired benefits of the target customer and the problems currently faced by that same target customer. There are three things that must stand out above all in your way of designing and formulating your value proposition:

  • The problems that your product/service solves.
  • The benefits of your product or service.
  • The arguments that prove you are doing better than your competitors.

To understand what a value proposition is, it is useful to highlight what it is not.

A value proposition is not:

  • A marketing slogan. “Just Do It” is not a value proposition, although a value proposition may contain a slogan. The value proposition is more than a slogan.
  • A positioning statement, such as “Fashion at Low Prices”. Even if a value proposition can highlight your market positioning.
  • A list of benefits and features, even if your value proposition can and should highlight the benefits of your product.

Your value proposition should answer several questions about your product or service:

  • What do you sell?
  • For who? Which target? Who is your product/service for?
  • What can I get from your product/service?
  • What makes your product or service unique? What makes your value compared to your competitors?

Before going further, a word about the “why.” Why exactly do you need to formulate a value proposition? It may not be obvious to everyone.  A value proposition makes it possible to present your offer and its value. A clear understanding of your offer and the resulting confidence makes you want to buy. The purpose of the value proposition is about encouraging your potential customers to discover your offer and to buy your product or service. If a customer has a doubt about what you sell, it will go elsewhere, to your competitors.

Another question: how should you communicate your value proposition to your target customers? A value proposition can come in different ways, in various formats. Some companies manage to communicate their value proposition without even writing anything. For others the words used are crucial. To be visible, your value proposition must contain:

  • A title, which expresses in one sentence the ultimate benefit of your offer.
  • A subtitle or a few paragraphs that explains in a more specific way the content of your offer: for whom? Why is it useful?
  • Between 3 and 5 bullet points that list the benefits.
  • A visual – in the form of hero image – of your product. To capture attention, a picture is worth 1000 words. To increase its effectiveness, choose an image that is consistent with the message expressed in the title, subtitle, and bullet points.

Another question: how to create an effective and impactful value proposition? There are several elements of the answer. First, you must put yourself in the shoes of your customers, live their desires, their expectations, their problems.  You need to ask yourself what, from the customer’s point of view, is likely to grab their attention. Here are some practical tips for the successful design of your value proposition:

  • Avoid adopting a tone that is too “promotional” or aggressive.
  • Aim for clarity, each word must be chosen carefully to make your message as accurate as possible.
  • Your message should be read and understood in 5 seconds.
  • Explain to your customers the real results they will get from using your product/service.
  • Highlight how you are different from the competition

Tools and methods to create your value proposition

Here are some tools to formulate and design your value proposition.

The Canvas Business Model

A canvas designates the general scheme of something, the outline. One can speak, for example, of the canvas of a dissertation, or the canvas of a project. The Business Model Canvas is a diagram or table that presents the outline of a business model.

The Business Model Canvas (BMC) – or its adaptations (Lean Canvas in particular) is used all over the world. In a simple format, it describes what the company brings to its target customers with its offer. While the BMC is mainly used to convince investors or identify priority strategies, it can also be used to feed thinking about the design of the value proposition. Creating a BMC brings out the value proposition. It provides a clear vision of what the company offers, which makes the value of its offer.

The value proposition Canvas

This concept, like the previous one, was invented by Alexander Osterwalder, a Swiss economic theorist. It is through this canvas, to validate the value proposition and the assumptions that underlie it. We refer you to understand this method to a complete Slideshare on the topic of the value proposition canvas. The design of this canvas is an opportunity to identify:

  • Current problems faced by target customers, friction points.
  • Customer expectations, the expected benefits of your product.
  • The product features/features that can solve the current problems of target customers.
  • Product features/characteristics to meet customer expectations.
Learn how to pick the metrics that matter for your business

Download the free Guide to Product Metrics today.

Get the Guide