Some links included here may be affiliate links, meaning we may earn a small monetary bonus from referring you to them. In no way does this increase the price you pay.
Today’s Business Task: Complete the value proposition canvas and create your unique value proposition.
New to the Business Jumpstart Challenge? Learn more about it here.
I’ll be honest — when I hear the terms “unique value proposition”, “unique selling position”, “USP”, etc. my eyes start to glaze over.
Having a clear value proposition is probably something you have heard a hundred times but never paid much attention to, because it seems so “basic.” And it is, but it’s also what I would consider step one in having a strong business foundation.
What is a Value Proposition?
According to Wikipedia, the definition of a value proposition is:
“A value proposition is a promise of value to be delivered, communicated, and acknowledged. It is also a belief from the customer about how value (benefit) will be delivered, experienced and acquired.”
In other words, it’s the reason customers and prospects buy from you and not your competitor.
It’s what makes you unique.
Your unique value proposition is the thing that determines if people will continue learning about your services or product or go back to searching for another solution.
If you don’t get this right as a business owner, you’re going to be battling uphill from the beginning. Especially as a new and undiscovered company, you’ll need a unique value proposition so much more than a well-known brand.
Benefits of Having a Unique Value Proposition
“Okay, but if it’s such a boring topic, why is a value proposition important?”
Here are a few reasons why:
1. More Effective Marketing
Your unique value proposition makes marketing your product or service 1,000 times easier.
I’m not kidding. You are setting yourself up for a much easier time down the road.
Great marketing includes having a clear message, aimed at a specific group of people at the right time.
Knowing your unique value proposition, what makes you different, etc. makes the whole process of marketing so much easier. Not only will your marketing efforts be easier, but they will almost always be more successful as well.
Think about it, let’s say that you serve people in the city of Philadelphia, ages 24-45, who are not married, and are interested in gardening. You’ll have a much easier time targeting them with say, Facebook ads than you would if you only knew that you help people in the Philadelphia area.
2. Attracting the Right Customers
When other people know exactly what you do and for what audience, they will either identify with your message, or they won’t.
This is a critical piece of finding the right customers for your business. You want the people who come to you to know exactly how you can help, because it makes the whole sales process faster, more streamlined, and you’ll waste less time talking to people who just don’t “get it.”
3. Side Benefit: Confidence
When you know exactly who you are talking to and how you can help solve their problems, you can speak more confidently to their needs, problems, and pains. You will quickly position yourself as the expert for that group of people.
You’ll be able to go to a networking event, and confidently talk about what you do and who you help. You’ll start refining your message and the people you’re talking to will either relate, or they’ll likely be able to refer you customers because they know someone who could use your help, which is huge.
Also, can you imagine how much easier it would be to sell someone your service or product if you knew who it benefits the most? You’ll know the words to use, the pains to touch on, and prospects will feel like you’re speaking their language – because you are.
In the customer segments article, you figured out what pains and problems your target customer is looking to solve.
In this one, we are going to look at the other side of the value proposition canvas, and start figuring out exactly what you can offer that will hit the exact needs of your target customer.
The Value Proposition Canvas
Designed by business management theorist Alexander Osterwalder, the value proposition canvas is a tool for more easily determining what makes your service or product, well, valuable.
The canvas breaks out the pieces of a great value proposition and helps you work through them one by one.
The unique value proposition canvas helps us solve 2 of those pieces of the Business Model Canvas, but right now we are just focused on determining the value we are able to provide our customers.
Here is what the Value Proposition Canvas looks like.
Let’s start diving in and working our way through the value side of things (the square). We covered the customer segments over on this post if you missed it.
Products and Services
In this section, you’re listing out what products and services you offer that could accomplish one of the customer jobs we had on the right side of the canvas.
These can be big services or a small e-book type of offering. The only requirement here is that it must solve a need.
Next, we are going to figure out how the products and services you just listed solve a pain for your client.
How does your e-book or service reduce a negative emotion they had, or relieved some kind of risk they perceived as part of the job they need to accomplish?
Does it make their life better in some way, or reduce money they had to spend on the job?
Next, look at how your product or service created what’s called a “customer gain.” Essentially the opposite of relieving a pain, what are they gaining from using your product or service to complete that job?
Does it help them achieve results above and beyond what they thought was possible? Is this something that outperforms a current solution they are using?
Example of Creating a Value Proposition
I went through this exercise for my own business to help show you what this would look like using a live example. I created a short video for you but also have the text version below.
This is using my marketing consultancy geared towards a specific client type of mine, conference and event planners.
Here are the ideas I came up with for each area of the solutions/value proposition side of the canvas.
- Marketing Audit
- Website Audit
- Conversion Tracking Setup
- Facebook Ads Management
- Google Ads Management
- Save money
- Fix underperforming campaigns
- Better performing ads
- Better quality ads
- Confidence in ability
- Extra communication
- Created extra sales
- Got it done in less time
- Made them look good
- Kept them top of mind
- Produce a big impact
- Make the adoption of solution seamless
Designing Your Unique Value Proposition
Great – so now we’ve gone through the entire canvas and figured out what we can offer, and how it’s going to help our potential customers.
But we still don’t have a value proposition to share with people.
How do we build that?
Using this framework for my marketing example, here is what I came up with:
Holistic digital marketing for businesses looking to grow their audience and impact.
Be sure you’re using the most impactful channels to spread your message, not just the shiny, new ones. With our holistic approach, you know you’re moving in the right direction, instead of wasting time and money on channels that won’t work for you at this stage of your business.
- Customized marketing roadmap for your business
- Transparent reporting that allows you to pivot quickly
- Know exactly what’s working and what’s not for your company
Obviously, the picture could be improved, but I was on a time crunch here! 🙂
Mistakes to Avoid
When building a value statement, we are trying to convey why people should buy from you. We are not trying to get cute and come up with a brand phrase or slogan here.
- Solving problems that don’t have enough value. You need to make sure this is a pressing issue for your customer, not just an issue. Every business needs marketing, but businesses who have an event coming up that need to sell tickets to, really need help with marketing.
- Using jargon
- Using taglines and not enough words to convey your message. Of course, you want to be brief so people can absorb the whole message, but being too short can have the reverse effect.
- Skipping this step – even if you have a unique selling proposition already, I think this exercise could absolutely help you make it more robust.
The Last Step
This might be the last step, but it’s also a critical one: Position yourself as the premier provider of this unique value.
If you just have a value proposition, and you’re not owning it 100%, what’s the point?
Make sure you’re showcasing in everything you do that you are the leading provider of this value.
This is also an ongoing step, not just a “check the box and it’s done” type action. Print out your value proposition and tape it to your wall. Get it printed and framed to put up around the office so your team never forgets.
That’s it for Day 2 of the challenge, see you tomorrow for Day 3.