Daniel Burstein

Value Proposition: A free worksheet to help you win arguments in any meeting

Perhaps you’ve been in a similar meeting. We were discussing plans for the upcoming Email Summit, when someone brought up an idea for an interesting pre-event workshop.

We debated it a little. The pros. The cons.

Personally, I loved the idea.

But how should we decide if this was the right approach to take? Based on our past experience? Based on the highest paid person’s opinion? Based on the stars?

The fault, dear Brutus, lies in our value props (or lack thereof)

And then Justin Bridegan, Senior Marketing Manager, MECLABS, said something that instantly killed the conversation, “Wait a minute…this idea goes against our value proposition.”

As Alex Bogusky has said, “The most effective advertising a company does is the way it conducts business.” If we do something that goes against our value proposition, that flies in the face of the value we provide our customers, and all the marketing and advertising in the world is not going to help us once we’ve burned that bridge.

For this reason, a value proposition serves as an excellent North Star to help guide decisions made in any strategy meeting or on any steering committee, much like an A/B test is a great way to win any marketing debate (“Which headline will perform better? Instead of debating, let’s try both and see what our customers tell us.”)

If we didn’t have that clearly defined value proposition, the decision would not have been as clear cut.

What is a value proposition?

A quick primer if you’re unfamiliar with those two words, at MarketingExperiments we define your value proposition as the answer to this fundamental question:

Why should your ideal prospect buy from you rather than any of your competitors?

This is not a slogan or a headline or anything that will likely appear, as specifically worded, in any of your advertising creative. It’s also not your mission statement or business plan.

How do I craft an effective value proposition?

I’ll let you in on a little secret…crafting effective value propositions is really, really hard. For all we’ve researched and taught about value props, I still struggle with them myself.

But as we’ve wrestled with them over the years, we’ve also created several resources that I hope you’ll find helpful in crafting your own value propositions, and using them to win the next argument…um…I mean…guide your thinking in your next strategy meeting.

You can start with the MarketingExperiments Value Proposition Worksheet:

MarketingExperiments Value Prop Worksheet

Value Proposition Worksheet

click to enlarge

This simple, two-page worksheet can help you begin to identify and express your Value Proposition. If you’d like to dig a little deeper, here are a few more resources that you may find helpful:

Do You Have the Right Value Proposition? How to test, measure, and integrate your Value Proposition online.

Value Prop: Is there true value in your marketing proposition?

Value Proposition: How to use social media to help discover why customers buy from you

Value Proposition: Our research team answers your questions

Value Proposition: How your peers find the most effective value prop

Also, Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director, MECLABS, will be teaching about value proposition at B2B Summit 2011 in Boston and San Francisco.

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  1. October 6th, 2011 at 08:49 | #1

    Hi Daniel.
    Right now I’m trying to find a righ VP for my business. When selling (web) services rather then products, I think it’s quite more difficult to find a good VP. And by finding my special VP, I’ll be able to plan my whole business strategy. I fell stuck, and it’s quite frustrating…

    Do you have some extra advices to give me?

    • October 6th, 2011 at 11:52 | #2

      Valentina,
      I think a powerful value proposition is even more important for Web services, than products, actually. While I agree it’s quite difficult to find a good value prop, at least products in a store might be able to get away with not having one. On the Web, your competition is only a click away.

      In this Research Journal article, on page 14, we discuss value propositions for a banking solution as well as an online degree, both of which are somewhat similar to a Web service. I hope this article helps.

      Thanks,
      Daniel

  2. October 6th, 2011 at 12:44 | #3

    Thank you for replying, Daniel.
    Let me ask you few more questions. Is the value prop different from the payoff? Can the payoff contains, in a certain way, the value prop? If I do discover the perfect value prop that fits me, what if I have a general payoff, or (worst) a payoff which is totally different from the value prop? I think the point is that I have to be coherent in every single part of my communication. Right? Especially because I’m selling adv services.

    And, last but not least: is it better (or enough) to have just one good vp, or more than one?

    Thank you for the article. I’ll read it carefully.
    Best wishes,
    Valentina

    • October 7th, 2011 at 09:52 | #4

      My pleasure Valentina. Don’t confuse the value proposition with the payoff. As Austin McCraw states in the blog post entitled “How to Test Your Value Proposition Using a PPC Ad”

      But before diving any deeper, we should get clear on what I actually mean by the term Value Proposition. At MarketingExperiments we define your Value Proposition as the answer you have to one simple question: Why should your ideal prospect buy from you rather than any of your competitors? So, your Value Proposition is not a catchy slogan or a detailed business plan, but rather a concise, clear, and credible answer to this question.

      To your second question, as we state in Optimizing PPC Ads: How to leverage the full potential of 130 characters by clarifying the value proposition, “There is a difference between the Value Proposition for your company and your product. You must address both.”

      Lastly, Flint McGlaughlin, our Managing Director will be teaching about Value Proposition at B2B Summit 2011 in San Francisco. You may find that helpful. We will also have 1-on-1 consultations with our analysts about value proposition. Here’s a video interview I conducted with Flint McGlaughlin about value proposition right after our Boston stop of the B2B Summit wrapped.

  3. October 7th, 2011 at 09:58 | #5

    Thank you Daniel.
    I’ll study each and every single article you’ve mentioned. I’d really like to join the B2B Summit 2011 in SF, but I live in Italy and it’s just a “couple” of miles too far ;)

    Anyway, I think I’ll buy online courses: it’s easier to me follow you that way.

    Let me tell you I really appreciate your kindness.
    Take care
    Valentina

  4. May 23rd, 2012 at 18:10 | #6

    Great article, thanks! I will also make sure I read all the other articles you recommend. Being a marketing professional, I wonder how the value proposition differs from the brand promise? It basically rang the bell when I read your prompt question: Why should your ideal prospect buy from you rather than any of your competitors? Thanks

    • May 29th, 2012 at 09:44 | #7

      Thanks Aura,
      Here is how Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director, MECLABS sees brand promise and value proposition, “The problem with the notion of “Brand Promise” is that it places the origin on the sender rather than the receiver. The fact that you tell me that I can trust you (i.e., a promise) does not mean that I actually trust you. In fact, I might even have a negative response to the claim.”

      You can read more of his thoughts in Brand Delivery: Promises vs. expectations.

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