Look at a Business Model Canvas and you’ll see a blank box in the middle that seems to control the flow of the entire matrix. That box belongs to a “value proposition,” and it is the first domino to fall for a business in search of a product-market fit.
How can an entrepreneur create a compelling value proposition for a business? To answer this question, we asked small business owners and startup founders for their best tips.
Here are 11 tips on how to write a value proposition.
Speak With Your Future Customers
Identify the opportunity that exists in the marketplace. When our business first started in 1995, the value proposition we identified was to offer anyone janitorial supplies at wholesale prices. Before our company was founded, wholesale prices on janitorial supplies weren’t available to the general public for professional-grade products from major brands. By identifying a value proposition that created more value for our customers, we’ve been able to celebrate our 25th year in business this year. For any entrepreneur looking to create a compelling value proposition, take the time to research the industry, speak with customers, and be bold enough to dream up something unique.
Elliott Greenberg, TouchFree Concepts
Write The Value Proposition On Post-Its
Bust out the post-its. The process of identifying a value proposition requires lots of revisions. Why? Because finding product-market fit requires an entrepreneur to “get out of the building” and talk with customers about where they find value in a product or service. If an entrepreneur listens hard enough, customers will share what the true value proposition may be. My best advice is to write a value proposition on a Post-It note and revise that Post-It consistently after each customer interview. If the customer insights phrase a value proposition differently, write it down and validate the phrase over and over until you’ve found a fit.
Brett Farmiloe, Markitors
Keep the Customer’s Problem at the Forefront of Your Mind
A value proposition for a business is a promise of something to be delivered! It is the main reason why a customer should (or should not) buy a product or service from you. As an entrepreneur, this is the most important part of starting any business, because customers don’t know what kind of value you can offer them yet. When creating a business value proposition, always keep the customer at the forefront of your mind. Identify a problem a customer may have and present how your product or service can be the solution.
Henry Babichenko, Stomadent Dental Lab
Keep Your Message Simple and Consistent
When writing a compelling value proposition, this is not the time to try to cram every selling point and benefit of your product into the message. Think of the single most important thing you want to communicate with your consumers, and use it to hook their curiosity and want to discover more about the product. The message should be efficient and to the point.
-Chris Dunkin, Portable Air
Implement Credibility Markers
Selling a product or service that fails to convey its value to consumers is just as bad as creating a product or service that has no value to start. That is why you need a clear value proposition for your business! The best way to create a compelling value proposition is to keep credibility at the forefront of your mind. As a financing company that specializes in commercial real estate and renewable energy, our clients should be able to trust us. Implement credibility markers into your value proposition that will help customers feel comfortable doing business with you.
-Kimberly Kriewald, Avana Capital
Brand Positioning Statement
An entrepreneur needs to create a Brand Positioning Statement that describes the business they want to build or be a part of and also demonstrates the expertise they have to build it. For example - “I am a focused and determined business leader who can offer entrepreneurial stamina and wisdom to drive bottom-line results”.
-Mary Onorato, Career Coaching Consultant
How Do You Make Your Clients Heroic?
Get everything you say about your company “out of your head” by taking the time to write your answers on paper (or a whiteboard) before it eventually ends up in a master company document. To get you thinking differently about the product or service your business provides, here are two great questions from well-known individuals. Question 1. “Why do you do it?” As famously stated by Simon Sinek “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Question 2. “How do you make your clients heroic?” was shared by Joe Polish (co-host of the I Love Marketing podcast). Those questions get you and your team connecting to a deeper meaning, and fulfillment as your company serves clients.
-Mark Jamnik, Enjoy Life Daily
Keep it Simple
First and foremost, keep it simple, brief, and don’t get lost in what you do. Too many businesses get lost in describing what they do versus connecting with their target on their terms and with their needs. Instead focus squarely on the intersection of what you are passionate about what you are best at - and make sure you can articulate how that solves your target customer’s problems and what makes you uniquely qualified to solve them. I highly recommend the book Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller to help guide your thinking, and Traction by Gino Wickman to enable you to crystalize your targets and messages.
-Scott Elser, The Traction Hub
Back-Up Your Promises
An entrepreneur can create a compelling value proposition for a business by instilling two things into their offers. The first is something that customers can’t get anywhere else. The second is a way to give them rock-solid certainty that you can achieve said result. For example, I have an email marketing system built specifically for financial advisors. I am—as far as I know—the only person who has melded together world-class email marketing and financial services. Financial advisors literally can't get this anywhere else. I also back it up with a rock-solid money-back guarantee, which means if I can’t get results, they don’t pay a dime.
James Pollard, The Advisor Coach LLC
Create A Product Or Service That’s Easy To Use
From my experience, I find that the most compelling but simplest proposition you can make for your customers is to make a product easy to use. Very often product developers make things assuming that customers have certain skills and knowledge to use them. This often isn’t true. You can remake an already existing product but make it so user-friendly and intuitive that customers will prefer your work over your competitors.
-Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
Remove the Branding Jargon
Entrepreneurs can create a compelling value proposition by communicating the value of their product in terms that the target customer can understand. A customer wants you to solve their problem, not impress them with your branded messaging jargon. The TechnologyAdvice value proposition is that we connect buyers of technology with the best technology companies. Our actual product is much more complicated. But, software buyers looking for the right software right now don’t need to know the intricacies of what a B2B media company does. They need information that will help them find the right software quickly. When we remove the complicated explanations, we make a clear path from search to connection.
Rob Bellenfant, TechnologyAdvice