What is a Value Proposition? Podcast Episode #8
One thing to think about in your marketing is how people shop and what they're thinking about when they are buying something. In general, when people are shopping for something, and you can think about this for yourself when you've had to make a purchase, they have some kind of problem or they have a pain point, they have some kind of need, and that's what they're setting out to find when they're looking around for a new product or service. They are not necessarily looking for specific features of a product when they start out. That's something that they might come across once they narrow down to a couple of different choices and they need to compare.
You want to think about that when you are marketing your company so you don't necessarily need to be leading first with all the nitty-gritty features about your product. You want to be highlighting how you could help them with their problem or their pain point or the need that they're looking for. And that is called your value proposition.
One example is I was looking for board games for my preschooler the other day and I didn't go into it thinking, okay, I need to find a board game that has some kind of approved by moms, approved by parent certification, and comes with five different settings. That's not what I was searching for initially. What I was searching for was a board game for a four year old that he's going to learn something from because that was my need. That was the problem that I was trying to solve.
Think about that with your own company and think about if you're a B2B business, your sales conversations, like your sales people don't go into a first conversation with someone and just launch into "here all the things that my product could do." There's a conversation around what's going on with your business, trying to sort out what the opportunities are. That's what you want to be doing through your value proposition for your company.
The value proposition is basically what is going to unite all of your communications around marketing and around sales. And that's what's going to draw people in to want to explore and hear more about what you provide. It's also what is going to help you be consistent and how you could help them as they continue exploring what you have to offer or comparing you against other providers.
One way to visualize what a value proposition is and what it could do is by thinking about the home page of your website and what the first headline is that they see. Because most people do their shopping online, they'll come across your website and they're going to read the first few sentences and make a decision in 3 seconds if they're going to stay on your page and look around or if they're going to leave and go somewhere else. So you want to capture their attention. And the best way to do that is by appealing to them and relating to them and how you could help them and not by launching into showing off all the features of your company. You could get into that when they scroll down. This is a message that you want to share through your website. That's just an easy way to visualize how it would come across, but also in any of your emails or any of your brand-level ads, things like that.
Let me share some examples. And these aren't necessarily the value proposition because that's more something that is in an internal document that you use. But I'm going to share some headlines that are on websites that should be coming from a value proposition that was developed internally. I looked at some training and development companies, and I looked at a bunch of their websites and tried to map out which ones have a good, appealing value proposition versus others that don't so much. So, for example, I'll just share a good value proposition. So one is "Grow your people. Transform your learning culture with microlearning." So right off the bat, it's talking about how their training is going to help the company. It's going to help you in growing your employees and it's going to change the way that your company is helping people learn. And the way that they do that is through microlearning. So right there, someone who's in learning and development, they could be out there searching for some kind of solution that is going to help their employees grow and reskill. And they're thinking "I want something that's totally different from what we're doing right now. And I've heard about this trend around microlearning. I think that would be really effective for my employees." None of that was around "I need a product that has this and that." And so this is a great website headline value proposition around here's what we can do to help you without talking about the company.
On the flip side, there's another headline that said "Serving you since 1987. Our company is the world's premier provider of motivational intelligence training and development." Hopefully you could see the differences there. This is just all about the company and it says what they have to offer. So maybe someone is looking for that kind of training and that would help. But the first two parts of that sentence are saying, "we've been around for this long and we're a top provider." Again, those are good things to have. But further down the page or as a support point to your value proposition. This doesn't necessarily relate to and appeal to someone who has a problem and they're trying to solve it. This is just company-focused, not customer-focused.
So the next time you are writing a subject line for an email or writing a headline on a webpage, think about what your value proposition is. You should have a value proposition written down so you don't actually have to think too much about it. You just need to go reference that document and you want to be highlighting that first, especially when you're talking to new customers or prospects. And then you want to go through and weave in a description of what your product or service has to offer and what their features are.