Stand apart and be noticed. When you establish a value proposition to distinguish your store from the competition, it gives consumers a reason to buy from you. Here’s how to create yours
BY CARLOS ARNAVAT 4
Value proposition—isn’t that a slogan or positioning statement? Why do I need one? And how will it increase my bottom line?
These are important and common questions, yet did you know that most established retailers don’t have a published value proposition? Unfortunately, it’s true. Without one, how can they set themselves apart from their competitors, which is crucial in today’s competitive landscape?
What is a value proposition?
It’s a promise of value to be delivered and the reason a consumer should buy from you—instead of your competitor. In other words, it’s a few sentences that will help you dominate your market.
“OK, great. But why do I need a value proposition?”
Let’s pretend you’re a mattress retailer. First, we face the facts: You’re in a competitive market. And as a marketer, I see the mattress world getting more competitive every month. Between the new retailer setting up shop down the street and the new 24/7 online bed-in-a-box e-commerce phenomenon, now is the time to stand apart. A value proposition should be at the core of any business model.
Personally, I see a value proposition as an important conversion factor. And based on the number of metrics I’ve analyzed, it’s clear that stronger value propositions lift conversion rates and sales, while the weaker ones kill them.
A value proposition tells consumers:
- How your product(s) solves problems/improves their situation. At the end of the day, most people search Google to find answers, including solutions to problems and pain points. So ask yourself: How are you and your products going to help them?
- What specific benefits they can expect from you. Consumers want specifics. They want a clear understanding as to what they can expect your product to offer. Concisely address the key benefits.
- Why they should buy from you instead of your competitors. Why should the consumer purchase that Brand X from you versus your competitor? How are you different? And if you can’t answer that today, what can you change to answer that tomorrow?
Elements to include
You can create a value proposition by answering some very common, yet important, questions. So, with pen and paper in hand, ask yourself each question and then write down your answers.
Who/what are you?
What do you do?
How do you do it?
Who do you do it for?
Why do you do what you do?
What makes you different?
As you craft your answers, take into account the importance of being authentic. And in doing so, consider these suggestions:
- Be concise. Use one to three sentences for each question, except maybe for “Why do you do what you do?” because that could become part of your story.
- Be clear. Toss out industry jargon and keep your answers simple and direct. Avoid trying to be too clever. Eliminate vanity and fluff. Certainly create your tone, even toss in some wit here and there, but avoid cluttering the message that defines your true value. How can you help someone right now?
- Be conversational. Customers crave confidence—yet can’t stand arrogance. Focus on educating, solving problems and articulating why the product you’re offering is the best choice.
For a value proposition to hold merit and to be effective, it should be built around these five elements.
Your store must be unique, solve a problem, speak directly to those with said problem and, of course, differentiate itself from the competition.
Consumers can smell deceit a mile away. And in this day and age, with all the review capabilities (not to mention personalities) out there, it’s hard enough to build trust. So be honest—stay true to your offering.
The truth is, consumers only care how a product works if they first know it can solve their problem. So don’t focus on the function but on the value you are adding and the problem you are solving. Function comes after the consumer has bought into your value proposition. Clearly convey value.
We are inundated with thousands of ads every day. And now with mobile being in-hand, attention spans are limited. You have only seconds to grab someone’s attention. Consider ditching adjectives and go with verbs—quick and to the point.
Once you’ve nailed it, there is no reason to change it. Whether on your website’s home page, throughout your social media messaging or in traditional marketing, stay consistent so you don’t confuse your potential customers. And if you need to make a change, make it everywhere.
Structure to follow
While there is no single way to go about it, I’d recommend you keep it as simple as possible. Consider this format:
- Headline: In one short sentence, what end benefit do you offer? Mention your store and the customer—make it an attention grabber!
- Sub-headline or a two- to three-sentence paragraph: This includes a specific outline of what you do, what you offer, who it’s for and why they should choose you.
- Three bullet points: List the top three key benefits or features—what makes them unique and perfect for your target?
- Visual: People are visual. Images communicate faster than words. Show your store (the hero shot) and an image reinforcing your core message.
Putting it to the test
Now that you’ve crafted clear, concise and compelling statements, it’s time to start putting them together and communicating them to get some practice.
1. Type your value proposition.
2. Read it aloud and share it with colleagues.
3. Refine it based on feedback and reflection.
4. Practice delivering it with confidence and clarity.
By conducting this exercise, you will define an amazing value proposition—one that clearly expresses and defines your value.
After you’ve finished your value proposition, run through this final checklist.
- Can it be said with clarity?
- Does it flow and align with your brand?
- Does it communicate a specific solution to your target customer?
- Does it explain how you’re different and clearly the best choice?
- Can it be read and understood in 5 seconds?
- Once it’s passed the test, make sure to start using your new value proposition everywhere: online, verbally—you name it.
As with any critical task, it’s important to roll up your sleeves and get ’er done! Block out some time on your calendar this week and start the exercise. You’ll be glad you did.
Setting an example
Visit the following websites to check out these successful value propositions. Notice that while words clearly define the value, each of these use photography and color to engage with the consumers.
“Your life’s work. For everything you’ll do, Evernote is the workspace to get it done.”
This combines concise words with a top user photo, images of its toolset and a great urban landscape.
“Skype keeps the world talking — for free. Call, share and message with anyone, even if they’re not on Skype.”
One of my favorites. A powerful value proposition, one that clearly outlines who it serves and what it offers.
“Music for everyone. All the music you’ll ever need is right here. Your favorite artists, albums and readymade playlists for every moment.”
As with Skype, it targets everyone. It also makes its offering specific and includes photography that marries the value proposition.
Carlos Arnavat 4 is chief servant at Studio C5, a St. Louis-based inbound marketing agency that specializes in helping mattress retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers succeed online through a combination of storytelling, strategic educational content and 360-marketing automation. Arnavat also is an advocate and contributor to Sleep-Geek.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 314-549-5053.