Value propositions are things that exist unto themselves. When you have a business or offer a service, there should be some central thing that you offer to your customers and your shareholders. Value propositions also have another side. They’re mission statements crafted by your team, to communicate your value to the world. Some people like to think of three kinds of value propositions (the written kind):
Ones that relate to your need
The needs of your customers,
The needs of your shareholders/investors.
A unique value proposition can be hard to think of. Lots of people fall back on old tropes, saying the things that have already been said by others a million times. You don’t want to do this, so it’s important to understand the pitfalls that others find themselves in. One of these is to rely on the words of others or to compare yourself directly to another service that is already successful. Comparisons are of particular importance because potential partners are going to see a direct link between you and the competition.
How many times have you heard, for instance, “We’re the Uber of X” or “We’re the Ebay of X”. While this can work for a casual conversation to help someone understand the gist of what you do, it’s a tacky crutch to lean on for a proper value proposition. It also relies on someone else’s awareness and approval of an external business. What happens if the person reading your value proposition doesn’t like Uber, or isn’t familiar with how eBay works? You’ve got to do better, really communicating the core of your business to get the idea stuck in people’s heads.
Obviously, comparing yourself with another well-known service is not necessarily a good idea in the event that the comparison is not in your best interest. Also, you want to be sure that who you communicate with understands the right thing from the comparison. Choosing the well-known brands helps but some connection between a brand and you need to be established. Just make sure you do not steal branding elements as that is never going to be beneficial.
The perfect value proposition will involve a few more words than “We’re the Lyft of X”, but not many. These VPs can be communicated in just a few seconds – definitely less than thirty. Again, remember that we’re focusing on the value you offer your customers. If you happen to be thinking of a VP that is investor directed, it will have to contain a more well-rounded explanation of your entire business, but for this customer-facing idea, we can be a little more concise.
Perhaps the best way of doing this kind of value proposition is to use the XYZ equation. “We help X do Y by doing Z”. It’s so simple, and it can contain everything that is valuable to your business. So let’s say you are a muffin shop. “We help hungry students satisfy their sweet tooth with fresh, delicious muffins.” Your business might be a little more complex and difficult to explain, but if you can’t reduce your value to a few words like that, chances are your core value is actually a little confused. Organise your business until it is centred around a service that’s so easy to understand, almost anyone could understand it. Then write a value proposition that is great. You can do it.