Your brand’s value proposition is a promise of value to be delivered. It’s the primary reason a prospect should buy from you.
It’s also the #1 thing that determines whether people will bother reading more about your product or hit the back button. On your site, your value proposition is the main thing you need to test—if you get it right, it will be a huge boost.
In fact, if I could give you only one piece of conversion optimization advice, “test your value proposition” would be it.
The less known your company is, the better your value proposition needs to be.
Table of contents
- What is a unique value proposition (UVP)?
- The structure of a unique value proposition
- What makes a great value proposition
- 7 great unique value propositions examples
- Examples of poor value propositions
- How to write a unique value proposition
- How to test your value proposition
What is a unique value proposition (UVP)?
In marketing, a unique value proposition is a clear statement that explains the benefits of your product, how it solves customers’ problems, why it is different from the rest, and why customers should buy it.
In marketing, an ideal unique value proposition must provide the following:
- Relevancy. Explain how your product solves customers’ problems or improves their situation.
- Quantified value. Deliver specific benefits.
- Differentiation. Tell the ideal customer why they should buy from you and not from the competition.
Your value proposition has to be the first thing visitors see on your homepage, but it should also be visible at all major entry points to the site.
It’s not just for aesthetics or to placate a CEO or copywriter. Ultimately, it can improve your customer lifetime value. When I reviewed a bunch of websites, a missing or poor value proposition was one of the most common shortcomings.
You can also check out this episode of the Pe:p Show covering value propositions.
People should read and understand your unique value proposition.
A value proposition is something real humans are supposed to understand. It’s for people to read. Here’s an example of what a value proposition is not supposed to be like:
Revenue-focused marketing automation & sales effectiveness solutions unleash collaboration throughout the revenue cycle
Would you be able to explain the offer to your friend or how they’d benefit? Didn’t think so. Unfortunately, it’s no joke. Such meaningless “jargon propositions” are abundant. Avoid blandvertising at all costs.
Use the right language for your unique value proposition.
Your value proposition needs to be in the language of the customer (informed by customer research and buyer intelligence). It should join the conversation that’s already going on in the customer’s mind. To do that, you need to know the language your customers use to describe your offering and how they benefit from it.
You cannot guess what the right language is. The way you speak about your services is often very different from how your customers describe them. The answers are outside your office. You have to interview your customers to find it out, or use a messaging research tool like Wynter.
What the value proposition is not
It’s not a slogan or a catch phrase. This is not a value proposition:
L’Oréal. Because we’re worth it.
It’s not a positioning statement. This is not a value proposition:
America’s #1 Bandage Brand. Heals the wound fast, heals the hurt faster.
A positioning statement is a subset of a value proposition, but it’s not the same thing.
The structure of a unique value proposition
The value proposition is usually a block of text (a headline, sub-headline, and one paragraph of text) with a visual (photo, hero image, graphics).
There is no one right way to go about it. I suggest you start with the following formula:
- Headline. What is the end-benefit you’re offering in one short sentence? It can mention the product and/or customer. Make it an attention grabber.
- Sub-headline or a 2–3 sentence paragraph. A specific explanation of what you do/offer, for whom, and why it’s useful.
- 3 bullet points. List the key benefits or features.
- Visual. Images communicate much faster than words. Show the product image, the hero shot, or an image reinforcing your main message.
Note: Having solid product images are just one piece of the ecommerce pie. You’ll find 247 ecommerce guidelines in this research-based report.
Evaluate your current value proposition by checking whether it answers the questions below:
- What product or service is your company selling?
- What is the end-benefit of using it?
- Who is your target customer for this product or service?
- What makes your offering unique and different?
Use the headline/paragraph/bullets/visual formula to structure the answers. (Here’s a value proposition worksheet you might find useful.)
What makes a great value proposition
The best value proposition is clear: What is it? For whom? How is it useful? If those questions are answered, you’re on the right path. Always strive for clarity first.
If your value proposition makes people go “hmph?”, you’re doing it wrong. If they have to read a lot of text to understand your offering, you’re doing it wrong. Yes, a sufficient amount of information is crucial for conversions, but you need to draw them in with a clear, compelling value proposition first.
Research by MarketingExperiments says that the key challenge companies have is identifying an effective value proposition, followed by communicating it clearly.
What makes a good value proposition?
- Clarity! It’s easy to understand.
- It communicates the concrete results a customer will get from purchasing and using your products and/or services.
- It says how it’s different or better than the competitor’s offer.
- It avoids hype (like “Never seen before!” or “Amazing miracle product!”), superlatives (“best”) and business jargon (“value-added interactions”).
- It can be read and understood in about 5 seconds.
Also, in most cases, there’s a difference between the value proposition for your company and your product. You must address both.
Why the presentation of your value proposition matters
Original research by CXL showed that users:
- Noticed the value proposition more quickly when it had more text (i.e. took up more real estate on the page).
- Spent longer on a value proposition as opposed to elsewhere on the page when there was more to read.
- Recalled more services offered by the site when more services were listed.
- Described more website advantages when there were more features and benefits available to read.
- Preferred information in the form of bulleted lists.
- Preference for page design was influenced by which variation was originally seen.
A key role for the value proposition is to set you apart from the competition. Most people check out 4–5 different options/service providers before they decide. You want your offering to stand out in this important research phase.
7 great unique value propositions examples
It’s tough to find perfect value proposition examples. Probably because it’s hard to create a great one. I find flaws or room for improvement with most value propositions I come across.
I’m also fully aware that I’m not the ideal customer for many of the examples shown below, and my critiques are educated hypotheses that should be tested.
Here are some good examples along with my comments:
1. Campaign Monitor
- Very clear what it does;
- Specific lead paragraph;
- Relevant images that support text-based claims;
- Features a booster—”Instant signup. No credit card required.”
- It’s clear what it is and for whom;
- Specific benefit-oriented sub-headline;
- Relevant visuals;
- Smooth transition into features and benefits.
- Clear statement about what it is and for whom;
- List of features and benefits in sub-headline;
- Relevant image.
- Succinct explanations of what it’s for (“Your notes”), the benefit it provides (“Organized”), and why it’s so great (“Effortless”).
- Key features and benefits in the subheadline;
- Relevant image.
- Very clear headline;
- Clear call to action;
- Relevant image;
- Missing: comparison with the competition or more details in a sub-headline.
- Like Evernote, the headline is clear and succinct.
- Booster with “Sign Up Free” and “Sign up, It’s free”;
- Use of a third-party review to compare favorably and credibly against competitors.
- The headline is okay but could be clearer (i.e. “Keep track of your laptop, phone or tablet. Get it back when it gets stolen or lost.”
- The following paragraph does a good job explaining what it is, as does the image.
- An actual screenshot of the product may better demonstrate what it does.
- It uses boosters like social media proof and respected logos.
Examples of poor value propositions
Some lessons from the department of “Don’t do this!”:
I use this service myself and think it’s great, but they really need to do a better job.
- Awful clarity: “Helping Build a Better Internet”? Nobody will understand what that means—nor does that solve anyone’s problem.
- Sub-headline offers some clarity and detail, but that info should be in the headline.
- Image looks like a stock photo.
2. Continuum Financial
- No proper value proposition in place at all—the headline congratulates themselves on a five-year anniversary.
- Awkward phrasing if not flat-out incorrect (“…we look forward continuing to deliver…” and “What stage of your financial journey are you at?”
- No imagery above the fold; those below are stock photos.
So how do you make your offer unique? Often, it’s hard to spot anything unique about your offering. It requires deep self-reflection and discussion.
How to write a unique value proposition
If you can’t find anything, you’d better create something. Of course, the unique part needs to be something customers actually care about. There’s no point being unique for the sake of being unique (e.g. “the ball bearings inside our bicycles are blue”). Even if what you sell isn’t unique, you can still come up with a great value proposition.
Here are two articles that can help you find a “theme” or angle for your value proposition:
- Value Propositions That Work
- The Five Propositions that Help Companies Create Value for their Customers
Remember: You don’t need to be unique to the whole world, just in the customer’s mind. The closing of a sale takes place in a customer’s mind, not out in the marketplace among the competition.
Use “boosters” for your value proposition
Sometimes, little things tip the decision in your favor. If all major things are pretty much the same between you and your competitors, you can win by offering small value-adds. I call them boosters.
These things work well against competitors who don’t offer them. Boosters can be things like:
- Free shipping;
- Fast shipping/Next-day shipping;
- Free bonus with a purchase;
- Free setup/installation;
- No setup fee;
- No long-term contract, cancel any time;
- License for multiple computers (vs. 1);
- (Better than) money-back guarantee;
- A discounted price (for a product);
You get the idea. Think what small things you could add that wouldn’t cost you much but could be attractive to some buyers.
Make sure the booster is visible with the rest of the value proposition.
Example of a value proposition “booster”
Notice the “Free Shipping” sign in the top left? That’s a booster.
How to test your value proposition
You definitely have to test your value proposition. How? There are three main ways.
1. Message testing
By far the best way to test your value proposition is to put it in front of the very people you’re trying to market to, and get their perception on it. This is what message testing is for. It tells you exactly what your ideal target customers think:
- Do they find it clear?
- Is it relevant to them? Do they get it’s for them?
- Most importantly: do they want the value promised? Does it make them go “I want that”?
- And finally, is it differentiated? Is it clear why choose you over alternatives?
You will get rich qualitative information on how/where it’s falling short, so you can improve it.
The best way to conduct message testing is with a tool like Wynter.
2. A/B testing
Another good way to test your value prop is to craft two candidates (or more, if you have tons of traffic) and split test them. This will take at least 4 weeks on most sites, and requires a minimum of 500 signups/conversions per month. (You need to do proper sample size calculations upfront to know exactly how many).
The limitation here is that A/B testing will only be able to tell you if B is better than A, and by how much. It tells you nothing about the ‘why’. It offers no insight into how to improve your value proposition (unlike message testing).
Learn how to run A/B tests here.
3. Pay-per-click advertising
Another way to go about it is to use Google Ads or Facebook Ads. This can be costly and takes at least a week or two.
Split test ads with different value propositions that target the same customer. The ad with a higher click-through rate signals a possibly better attention grabber and interest generator, but on the downside, it doesn’t necessarily mean higher sales conversions.
Send the traffic to a corresponding landing page and test conversions, too.
You need a value proposition and you need to communicate it clearly on all the main entry pages: homepage, product pages, category pages, etc.
If you don’t state why users should buy from you, you will lose most of them. To craft a great value proposition:
- Focus on clarity above all else.
- Use the headline, sub-headline, bullets, and image formula.
- Test, test, test.
Working on something related to this? Post a comment in the CXL community!
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great, this really helped me for my marketing class. thanks!
A value proposition is not for products or services only. In the same manner you can create what is called Professional Value Proposition. To do so, answer the following three questions:
1.Why can I be useful? What business driver should I respond to?
2.How do I proceed? Which area should I focus on?
3.What results can I deliver? For what improvement?
To learn more http://blog.instarlink.com/en/content/generate-value-proposition
Well written and highly useful post.
Thank you for sharing
Thanks for this post it was brilliant to see a visual representation of the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to UVP’s. It’s been great to see examples of a UVP translated into website design. We’ve been getting caught up and stuck around our UVP and this has really helped.
We’ll come back and share our landing page when we’re less embarrassed by it!
Janine and Jo
great ! nice information for me
Google ventures said explain your value proposition in 5 seconds. I searched how to do that and found your article. Fantastic advice and 100% rebrandable :)
Great links too – thanks
I have read so many content regarding the blogger lovers but this article
is actually a good post, keep it up.
Wow this might be one of the best posts I’ve read on value statement optimization. Simple, easy to read, and no longer than it needed to be. Hope to put some of this into effect soon for our own startup!
Amazing Post again.. just can’t get off this blog.. this is my 5th article in a row.. great sensible, useful content with lot of case studies and research.
I wanted to send this to my staff and some clients. I didn’t: “You have to present your value proposition as the first thing the visitors see on your home page, but should be visible in all major entry points of the site.”
Its educative,informatory,and well advising for right decision.
continue with good job.
I just wanted to thank you. I am in the web design industry, and my home page introduction isn’t really talking to anyone. I don’t have a value proposition on my home page, the the message is weak overall. Funny enough, I checked my competition, and they are the same! This info is really going to help point me in the right direction. I appreciate it.
This is very detail and great value for creating the value statement!
Really, really detailed, meaty article. More copywriters and designers should read this article. I must have read it 5 times, just to grasp a little more of what you where saying. Thanks to you I just increased my launch page skills a few points.
Quite informative! I really like the comparative analysis, it really highlights key elements of a good value proposition
Great article. Great Examples. Got some work to do now.
My site is kind of embarassing and to this end we are looking at a total update in our approach. Most of what is on this site to be removed to better focus on what we do in the Real Estate industry, ie. Sell, buy and consult.
A very good post, Peep. I’ve really got down what a homepage needs to have.
Teaching a concept through good and bad examples are always informative and entertaining as well. I believe that creating a good value proposition can help us in researching and selecting the right keywords for our target audience. Next, it also helps in creating content that address their problems. Finally, providing a series of solutions that make them want to buy our products or services.
I use a lot of explanations to clients as to why don’t ‘Welcome to…’ gleefully looking forward to using yours!
Great article! Articles on UVP generally focus on SaaS businesses and don’t give much attention to e-commerce, so thanks for including a solid e-commerce example with Down & Feather.
informative article. keep it up. i’m following each of your article because it might help me creating my next website.
Found the article very helpful. I am designing a website and these tips are handy and useful. Thanks for publishing.
Very helpful article Peep. I have been focusing much more on conversions for websites and you clearly explained what a value proposition is. The examples you provided made it very clear. I’m going to check out some more of your posts. Thanks for your help :)
A strong value proposition is specific, often citing numbers or percentages. It may include a quick synopsis of your work with similar customers as a proof source and demonstration of your capability. It’s outcome focused and stresses the business value of your offering.
An excellent article! Great examples of what to do and what NOT to do. After 3 years online, I am finally learning how important a UVP really is.
Well done. Too often I see companies – especially young tech companies – loading up with proposition with tech jargon. We really have to get to the issues our customer cares about before they will listen.
Awesome reading, clear and makes sense. I am a full time student and am writing an assignment where I have to put value proposition of my product. After reading this article, I am much clear how I should frame my value proposition. Great work. Thank you so much.
Extremely in depth article I must say. Will definitely take it into account and do lots of testing. Should be interesting!
Those are useful value proposition examples indeed. I know there are plenty of such articles on the Net (I mean helpful ones), but there should be even more! Those are invaluable to beginner bloggers. Thanks!
Great post… I will definitely use these tactics as it relates to my endeavor I am working on.
It would be perfect to see you giving the alternatives to L’Oreal and Band-Aid.
Your website’s usability sucks. You have zoom disabled for mobile devices. Did it ever occur to you that some people may want/need to zoom? Other than that your content is good.
Really great and useful content here, thanks for putting this together :)
As always, great post Peep.
But I am wondering, could you give some examples of how eCommerce sites can do value propositioning great? If you sell, for example, archery gear, what would you do?
Excellent and decent post. I found this much informative, as to what I was exactly searching for. Thanks for such post and please keep it up.
Great article, I learned a lot.
Combined with your article about how worthless carousels/sliders were, I created a new graphic on our site. I would love any quick feedback: http://www.designpanoply.com
The slider is still there, but doesn’t play automatically, and the arrows pop up when it gets hovered over.
Keep up the great content :)
My coach just brought out the unique value proposition for my site and I came here to find out more about UVP. Great content and very useful to help write the website copy. I think I have my UVP figured out but if anyone would like to comment on it please email me.
The explaination is very useful for a business. There is this learning that could acquired by reading the article.
Great stuff, Peep.
I was really struggling to create something super exciting and totally unique but the point about using small boosters to make our value proposition unique helped a lot.
Also the distinction between what is actually unique with what is unique in our customers’ minds.
We have implemented a bunch of your tips for our new website’s value proposition.
Great post Peep. I probably have read this at least 10 times by now, love the visuals and analysis.
I thought your article was super valuable and wanted to share it. I used it in my recent post: Step-By-Step Guide: Create A Unique Selling Proposition for Your Landing Page (http://blog.usefedora.com/create-unique-selling-proposition-for-landing-page)
This will be very useful & helps us to be competitive.
Great points and such an important topic. Having the right value proposition can really get your business going. Customization is the key.
Explain in a good way to understand.
In Brazil, brands have a poor understanding in value proposition.
thanks for the book!
Thanks for one of the best summaries of what a value statement should be and Not BE!
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