Using Message-Mining to Pinpoint a High-Converting Value Proposition for Your Product

Using Message-Mining to Pinpoint a High-Converting Value Proposition for Your Product

There are already a bazillion resources out there that spell out how to “craft the perfect value proposition.” In fact, the whole concept of “unique value propositions” (UVPs)  is — at least at first glance — really Marketing 101 material.

So why keep talking about it? For one very good reason:

Most courses & books on value propositions FAIL to show you how to actually create value proposition through empirical, quantified research.

Instead, they give you a pile of pretty worksheets, diagrams, and fill-in-the-blank frameworks that encourage you to do little more than sit around the office, brainstorming overly-complicated, run-on mission statements that never even once get put in front of actual customers.

Even extremely practical value proposition books and courses from seasoned and accomplished business experts usually limit the material to  conceptual frameworks. Few of them flesh out the full, end-to-end process of pinpointing your strongest value proposition through actual customer research and analysis. And really, the research (and of course subsequent testing) is the only thing that will indicate whether your new value proposition is actually the right one.

How this article here is different

That’s where this piece fills in the blanks: Once you’ve finished the following exercises, you’ll truly understand how to properly collect and quantify messaging research from your target market and transform it into a powerful unique value proposition — one that’s strong enough to serve as the guiding star for your business for years to come.

At its core, a unique value proposition is an incredibly basic, straightforward concept. Your unique value proposition is simply a clear, logical answer to the question:

“Why should I choose  you, instead of someone else?”

This is a question that —  as customers — we instinctively, unconsciously ask ourselves every single time we think about buying a new product.

It’s what we look for, but can’t articulate

Whether we’re shopping for a vacation package in Maui or just looking for plain old car insurance, we run that same question through our heads over and over again, relying on it like a dowsing wand to help us home in on the best possible bang for our buck in an increasingly noisy, ad-filled world.

Unfortunately  as soon as we switch from the role of Customer to the role of Marketer, 99% of us develop a striking inability to give a clear, b.s.-free answer to this question.

Instead, we resort to absurdly complicated explanations we’d never use in a real, everyday conversation, stuff like:

“We synergize next-generation micro- and macro-technologies, revolutionizing the landscape of business solutions in the cloud.”

… or we take the high-drama/low-substance route, opting for ambiguous, 4-word non-statements like:

“Innovation. Strength. Power. Tomorrow.”

To counter this handicap, many business books offer fill-in-the-blank exercises and worksheets for entrepreneurs to help clarify their thinking.

Rely on your customers to come up with your value proposition

What all of these books fail to recognize is how naturally & easily we come up with great value propositions as customers.

We are in fact incredibly adept at coming up with clear, honest, relevant value propositions … when we’re the ones deciding whether to buy.

So, rather than waste hours trying to come up with another awkwardly verbose value proposition on your own, why not just get your customers & prospects to TELL you what your best value proposition is, straight-up?

You’ll be amazed  at how much easier and more effective this is than trying to come up with one yourself.

Getting useful data from your customers

As I mentioned before, a unique value proposition is really just an answer to the question “ Why should I choose  you , instead of someone else?” To answer this question effectively, you ultimately need to know:

  1. What your prospect is looking for
  2. What outcome(s) they desire
  3. How you achieve those outcomes BETTER than anyone else

Image source

In the bull’s eye graphic above, you’ll note that a good value proposition is built on a strong foundation of  knowing what your customer wants.

Once you have this critical information, picking and choosing which product and brand attributes you should talk about with your customers becomes trivial. (This is where a lot of other value-proposition exercises fail — they don’t force you to actually talk to your customers about their desires and build your value proposition off of this feedback first, which is ultimately a recipe for disaster.)

So to find out, objectively, what our customers want, we turn to an often -used -but -frequently -abused marketing tool: surveys.

A better value proposition with just 2 surveys

Before going further, let’s just make sure you have everything in place to send and collect your surveys. You will need:

A reliable, easy-to-use survey tool

Popular choices with free plans are Hotjar, SurveyGizmo, SurveyMonkey and Typeform. I myself prefer using Hotjar for its simplicity and on-site surveys & polls. (To implement website surveys and polls with Hotjar, you will need to add a code snippet to your website HTML. Installation guides for specific CMSes like WordPress, Drupal, Shopify, etc. and tag managers like Google Tag Manager can be found  here.)

A reliable email marketing tool

There are a ton of these tools to choose from. Popular choices include MailChimp, CampaignMonitor, GetResponse, Intercom and InfusionSoft. (I personally use MailChimp.)

A large(ish) list of customer email addresses

You should have at least a few hundred paying customers you can send a survey to. If you haven’t already, export these emails from your payment processing app and import it as a distinct list in your email marketing tool. It’s crucial that this list be made up exclusively of people who have  spent money on your product(s) or service(s). The more recent their transactions, the better.

Whom to survey?

To get the data we need, we’re going to send surveys out to two distinct audiences (one survey each):

AUDIENCE #1: Your Customers

(a.k.a people who made the decision to spend money on you)

AUDIENCE #2: Your Website Visitors

(a.k.a. people who are thinking of spending money on you)

Make no mistake: Your previous customers — especially your happy, repeat customers — are the ones who have the clearest sense of what your product’s most desirable attributes are.

However, because they’ve gone and actually bought your product and now know everything about it, they may no longer have accurate recall of what their mindset was like BEFORE they bought your product.

This is why we also survey your website visitors — to get a sense of what’s on their mind in the moment when they’re thinking about buying.

Once we find some overlap between  what your website visitors are looking for and what your customers love most about your product , BAM — we’ve officially nailed down the fundamental components of your new value proposition.

No customers or traffic yet? No problem!

Pre-launch businesses & startups have special challenges when it comes to pinpointing the right value proposition, due to a lack of traffic & customers to mine messages from.

That said, there are still things you can do to make sure your launch copy messaging is relevant and on-point to your prospects. Check out these blog posts for a full breakdown of the tactics I to suss out great, data-driven product messages for my pre-launch clients:


So without further ado, here are the exact survey templates I use to gather this critical data from site visitors and customers (including the invitation copy I add to emails and popups to elicit a high response rate):

Link to Customer Visitor Survey

(survey created in Hotjar, invite and link to survey deployed to paying customers via email marketing software, e.g. Mailchimp, GetResponse, Campaign Monitor, etc.)

Link to On-Site Visitor Survey

Deployed via Hotjar popup survey. Note that the popup invite copy for this survey includes a headline that says “Calling all {{ product-related identity }}!”

For this you should come up with some kind of inclusive-but-distinctive label that helps call out the exact prospect you want to hear from. Here are some examples:

For Petdoors.com, I used the label “Calling all Pet Lovers!”

For a wiper-blade vendor, I used the label “Calling all Car & Truck Owners!”

(If you can’t come up with a label easily, you can also call out your prospect with a question they’re likely to say yes to. A simple go-to question headline you can use is “Looking for a {{ your product category }}?”)

Once you set up and deploy the two surveys above, it should take just a few days to get most of the responses from your customers, and up to a few weeks to get a sufficient number of responses from your website visitors.

Your visitor survey response rate can vary drastically depending on your website’s volume and quality of traffic, but you should expect a decent number of responses to your customer survey.

I generally see response rates well above 10% for most of my clients. So if you send the survey out to 500 customers, you should get more than 50 responses back.

Once you’ve collected enough responses (more is always better, up to about 200 responses for each), you’re officially ready to start mining your data and discovering your business’s new & improved value proposition.

Mining survey data for killer UVP messages

Now that you’ve collected your survey responses, it’s time to extract the key insights that will define your UVP:

Step 1: Determine what matters most to your visitors

Generally speaking, prospects who are thinking about buying your product have certain requirements already in mind. They might be concerned with price, whether your product has a specific feature, or whether your company adheres to specific ethical standards.

The most effective value proposition for your product is one that clearly meets one or more of your visitors’ key requirements — the more closely matched it is to your visitors’ mindset, the more compelling (and higher-converting) it will be (as an aside, Oli Gardner does a fantastic job of spelling out the importance of message-matching here.)

This is precisely why we included Question #4 in our visitor survey …

What matters MOST to you when choosing a {{product category}} like {{product name}}?

(List 5 or so product attributes and/or features that you suspect matter to your prospects in a single-choice, radio button format, along with an option to choose “Other” and elaborate.)

In all likelihood, one or two of the options you listed will have been chosen far more than the others, thus dictating what the general focus of your value proposition should be.

Again, as an example, here’s the distribution of responses I got for petdoors.com:

What matters MOST to you when choosing a pet door?

More than 50% of respondents are looking for durable or weather-resistant pet doors over any other factors (including price).

Just looking at these preliminary results, our value proposition is already starting to take shape.

Step 2: Flesh out how your product meets customer needs

By now you should have a pretty clear (if somewhat general) understanding of what your customers want, which means you officially have the foundation of your value proposition.

(In the case of the pet-door supplier, we know that what our customer wants are durable, water-resistant pet doors.)

But our understanding is still pretty vague — we need vivid details and descriptions of desirable outcomes to really get our customers to see the value of our product. The more we can describe these outcomes in clear specifics and support them with proof points, the more credible and compelling our offer becomes to our customer.

To get this information, we turn next to Question #2 of our Customer Survey:

What would you say is the #1 problem {{your product}} eliminates or lessens for you?

Now, the way we’ve set up this question — a.k.a. asking an open-ended question and collecting paragraph answers — is both good and bad.

On the one hand, by collecting paragraph text answers, we get the benefit of colorful & candid descriptions straight from our customers’ mouths. These descriptions can be an absolute boon for writing compelling headlines and hooks, as Joanna Wiebe from Copy Hackers explains in great detail here.

On the other hand, open-form answers are hard to analyze at a glance (unless you’re whiz at  automated text analysis, but that’s a whole other can of worms). Some tools offer built-in word-cloud visualizers, but they really don’t cut it.

Unfortunately, quantifying the frequency of key messages from open-form survey responses requires a little elbow grease, but categorizing each message with a clear label and then using pivot tables in either Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel to gather and sort the frequency of each message cuts down the tedium of the process by a huge  margin.

Don’t know how to analyze open-form feedback with Pivot Tables?Get the full, step-by-step  methodology (with clear screenshots of each step) in my free ebook: https://kantan.io/uvp_book (skip to page 35!)

Once you’ve gone through and labeled the message themes of your survey responses for Question #2 and summarized which themes come up most often, you should have one or two clear contenders for the top pain-points eliminated by your product (and by extension, the outcomes they desire most).

Going back to my example of the pet-door supplier, the most common problems that customers said were eliminated by Petdoors.com’s products came back to:

  1. limiting their pet’s freedom/happiness
  2. having to get up all the time to let pets in and out
  3. worrying about pets while being away from home
  4. coming home to messes and accidents

Now we’ve got a much more emotionally-charged, contextual understanding of specific pain points our customers want to eliminate, which really beefs up the foundation of our value proposition.

Step 3: Identifying Uniquely Desirable Attributes

The last step of analyzing our survey data is determining what customers find UNIQUELY desirable about our product. Once we have this final piece of the puzzle, we know everything we need to know to create a killer unique value proposition, namely:

  • What the person is looking for (captured via Question 4 of visitor survey)
  • What outcome(s) they desire  (captured via Question 2 of customer survey)
  • How you achieve those outcomes BETTER than anyone else (still need this!)

Question #3 in our customer survey is the one that really draws out your brand’s most uniquely desirable attributes:

Why did you decide to choose us over other options? Can you recall if anything in particular appealed or stood out to you?

By asking this question, we prompt our customers to tell us how we edged out the competition in their eyes. Again, to get clear answers, you’ll need to analyze the open-form answers using pivot tables, but once you’re done you should see some key themes stand out in your final summary table over all the others.

In the case of Petdoors.com, two key reasons came up far more frequently than any other:

  1. product sturdiness
  2. having the widest selection of products and parts

Step 4: Putting It All Together

It’s official, you should now have everything you need to craft a well-researched value proposition. Here’s how it all comes together in the case of Petdoors.com:

  1. What our prospect is looking for:
    • Water-resistant/durable pet doors
  2. What outcome(s) they desire:
    • Pet happiness & freedom
    • Not having to let their pets out all the time
    • Not having to worry while at work
    • Avoiding accidents
  3. How we achieve those outcomes BETTER than anyone else
    • Our pet doors are sturdier and higher-quality than those at retail stores
    • We offer a larger selection than anyone else, so you get exactly what you need

Our final task is to weave these messages together in a clear, compelling way and stick it on our website (ideally as an A/B test, if you have the traffic to support it).

Here’s where it’s handy to have a few of those madlib-like fill-in-the-blank copywriting formulas to fill out. We’ll start an amazingly simple, effective formula for creating a clear, standalone UVP statement:

The  [ Exclusive Attribute/Adjective ]

[ Product Type Your Visitors Are Looking For ]  that

[ Solves Your Customers’ Most Commonly Cited Problem OR  Achieves Your Customers’ Most Commonly Cited Desire ]

“Exclusive Attribute/Adjective” refers to any descriptors you can use that sets your product apart as exceptional. Common terms might be “Only,” “Largest,” “Smallest,” or “Most [insert adjective here].”

The “Product Type Your Visitors Are Looking For ”  part of the statement (aka the most common response to Question #4 of your visitor survey is critical, as it’s the one part of the statement that immediately orients your customer and lets them know they’re in the right place. It may seem boring or obvious, but if you leave it out you increase the chances of a viable customer tuning you out because you didn’t let them know explicitly that you offer what they’re actually interested in!

Finally, the last part of the statement, “Solves Your Customers’ Most Commonly Cited Problem OR Achieves Your Customers’ Most Commonly Cited Desire,” is where you stick in those desirable outcomes (or eliminated pain points) you gleaned from responses to Question #2 of your customer survey.

So in the example of Petdoors.com, I might write my base UVP statement as follows:

The Largest Selection of Sturdy, Water-Resistant Pet Doors That Give Your Pets Complete Freedom To Come & Go As They Please

Note that every word of this value proposition (besides ‘the’, ‘of’, and ‘that’) did not come from me …  I swiped it all from my customers’ feedback .

Now, if you decide you want to test your new UVP on your website (which I highly recommend), a great way to do so is to re-format your UVP into a strong headline and sub-headline combination, and where possible, sharpen your copy with vivid, punchy words and action verbs.

To illustrate, here’s the final headline & sub headline copy I came up with for Petdoors.com:

Shop the World’s Largest Selection of Built-to-Last, Water-Tight Pet Doors

Give your dog or cat complete freedom to come and go as they please … While keeping your home insulated, secure, and “pet accident”-free.

Just to recap here: Virtually every word of this headline & sub-headline combination comes from customer feedback, not from personal preference or writing style.

And when we tested it, this copy went on to  increase the pet door supplier’s e-commerce transactions through the home page by 51% and 92% more revenue per user.


Great value propositions are indeed powerful, revenue-boosting business tools — but only if they’re based on a foundation of strong, specific customer desire. So if you’ve been struggling with your own value proposition and having a hard time thinking of an angle that really works, it’s time to put your pen down, throw out those worksheets and start reaching out to your customers.

Because while you might not be able to see it, they know exactly what your brand’s best value proposition is. All you have to do is ask them!

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Join the conversation Add your comment

  1. Awesome perspective and actionable insight, Momoko. Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. Hello Momoko, great content, thanks for sharing! I tried to download the ‘uvp_book’ but it’s ending in an error page for me, wonder if you could you check it out, thanks again.

  3. Hey Bruno! Thanks for following up – just fixed it, should work now, but let me know if you still have issues. Glad I could help!

  4. Thank you for the article, interesting insight!

    You describe how you use answers to questions 2 and 3 from the customer survey and question 4 from the visitor survey. I am curious as to how you use the answers to the other questions.

    As a general rule, I think it is a good idea to keep surveys as short as possible. What about using a 2-question customer survey and a 1 question pop-up for visitors?

    Thanks in advance!

  5. Good morning Momoko
    I work with CRO very much.
    But this article of yours has led me to rethink some practices.
    thank you very much … thanks ten thousand.

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Using Message-Mining to Pinpoint a High-Converting Value Proposition for Your Product