Inbound marketing is like a room with a locked door. Everything your company has to offer is in the room. It might be the most spectacular room in the world, a room with exquisite furniture and beautiful lighting. Without the key to the door, however, your prospect will never see it. They will not pick the lock or break the door. They'll move on to another room that has a key. Your value proposition is that key.
The value proposition is the number one thing that will determine whether prospects will continue reading through your website or move on to something else. This is why it is important that all of your website's pages have a value proposition, a reason for why whatever is in this page adds value. If you get it right, your prospects will know that you have the answer to their problems and are more likely to continue evaluating your company.
Crafting a value proposition is easy once you understand its components. Here is what you need to know to craft an awesome value proposition that will hit your prospect's sweet spot.
1. Understanding the Role of the Value Proposition
Before beginning to write your VP, you must first understand what its purpose is. Answer the following questions to yourself:
What is the product/service?
Who is your target customer?
How does the product/service address your prospect's pains or adds value to his/her situation?
What are the specific benefits of purchasing your product/service? What are the end-benefits of using it?
What is your unique difference? Why should your prospect choose you and not the competitor?
Answering these questions will help you determine what to write about.
2. Dissecting the Value Proposition
A value proposition is essentially divided into 4 elements:
A. Headline: here you state what is the end-benefit you're offering in one short, clear sentence. It has to grab your prospect's attention and s/he should be able to understand exactly what you are trying to say.
B. Subheadine: this is a 2-3 sentence paragraph that would provide a specific explanation of what your product/service is, who it is for, and why it is useful.
C. Bullet points: a list of key benefits or features.
D. Visual: people are more emotionally moved by visuals and they relate to them better. Add a relevant visual to your value proposition. It is usually a hero shot of your product or an image reinforcing your main message.
E. Call to action: what's next? After reading this, what is the next logical step? You've hooked them with A-D, here is where you reel them in. Make sure your CTA is well-formatted and links to a great landing page.
Square has the right combination of all of the above. Their headline is clear and captivating, we understand what message they’re trying to deliver. The subheadline isn’t in its usual place, you can find it at the bottom where it says “2.75% per swipe...”. This explains a bit more about the details. Then we have a benefit, we receive a free Mobile Card Reader. They have a small form and the CTA and voila! (I would say maybe they could include some bullet points to highlight the key benefits, but since the product isn’t very complex to understand, it’s understandable why they didn’t think they needed them.)
3. Common Mistakes to Avoid
You have the answers, you have the format, now you can write it out. But there are many pitfalls that you might fall into. Be wary of the following:
A. Vagueness: your value proposition should be the easiest thing to understand. You don't want to confuse your prospects or make them think. Be specific in your headline and don't use jargon or complex language. Your prospects will not appreciate that. You want to deliver your message in the clearest, simplest way possible.
B. Too much text: your value proposition should be read and understood in 5 seconds. If it is too long, your prospects will lose interest and you will lose their attention.
C. Irrelevant/overpowering imagery: your image needs to reinforce the message that your value proposition is delivering. It won't do to pick out a random stock image just because it looks cool. At the same time, your image should not be overpowering or distract your prospects from the actual message. Pick out an image that would compliment what you are trying to say
D. Too ambitious: your value proposition should communicate the specific end-benefits that the prospects will receive. Using superlatives like "the best ever" or "never seen before" will not do. They will create a fake hype which your product or service might not be able to live up to.
E. Boring: people usually check 4-5 offers before they make up their mind about something. If you don't strike them as special, they will strike you out. You have to make sure your value proposition sticks in their heads. Dig deep into the product/service to find what sets it apart. If you don't have an angle, create one. Perhaps you can provide more incentive such as free shipping, free installation, free bonus, etc. Remember you don't have to be unique in world, just in your prospect's head.
It’s not very often that someone can do this, but I want to use Apple as an example to a not-so-good value proposition. Let’s dissect it and tackle the elements. The headline is there, clear and captivating. We understand that this value proposition will talk about the iPad mini. But when it comes down to the subheadline “Every inch an iPad.” we really don’t get much. It is vague. What do they mean by every inch an iPad? What does that say about its functionality? What are the end-benefits? Why is this better than the previous iPads? Why is this better than a Samsung tablet for that matter? Another thing they did is that they opted to have videos to explain instead of bullet points. This means that they have added one more layer of friction between the prospect and the information. The prospect now has to actively seek these details, which for an Apple fan isn’t really a problem, but for anyone else is. Finally, what do I do after seeing this value proposition? There is no CTA to lead the prospects to the next logical step.