GuidesProduct developmentHow to develop a unique value proposition

How to develop a unique value proposition

Last updated

23 March 2023

Reviewed by

Hugh Good

When someone asks if you need to develop a value proposition for your company, do you give them a deer-in-the-headlights look or do you smugly say, "We already have a mission statement"?

It’s easy to see why there is confusion around value propositions. We hear a lot about mission statements, vision statements, brands, and slogans, but there isn't much conversation about value propositions.

Let's take a look at what a value proposition is, what it is not, when to use it, and some examples from businesses at the top of their game.

What is a value proposition?

In a nutshell, a value proposition is a promise of the value your customers can expect from your business. It is what sets you apart from your competitors and is the reason customers purchase from you. It lets customers know what they can expect from your business and how your product or service is better than others. It is what customers see when they open your website and what makes them use your product or service time and again.

It is unique to your business, hence its other names: unique value proposition (UVP) or unique selling proposition. It is what draws your customer to your product or service because of the unique properties it provides. It becomes a large part of your marketing strategy, just like your slogan or brand name.

What a value proposition is not

It is easy to get a value proposition confused with a slogan. Those catchy phrases like "Just Do It" or "Finger-Lickin' Good" are company slogans, not unique value propositions. Value propositions are not vision or mission statements, brands, or taglines. They describe how your product or service excels compared to your competitors, giving your customers a reason to purchase.

A value proposition is not full of technical or industry-specific words, it doesn’t ramble on about your qualifications, and it doesn’t claim you’re the best without backing up the statement. It simply states how you’re better at what you do or how you make your customers' lives easier.

When to use a value proposition

Potential customers should be able to experience your unique value proposition on the homepage of your website. It should engage the customer sufficiently that they will want to investigate your business and products and potentially make a purchase. It is the brand messaging that markets your company to any customers who are unfamiliar with you and your business. As an introduction to your business, it should define what you do, your values in business, and why they should select you over your competition.

Choose your value proposition wisely so that potential customers can avoid distractions and clutter and learn what you do best. Use easy-to-understand words and phrases, identifiable to your products and company.

Why use a value proposition template?

The role of a unique value proposition is to set you apart from the competition and encourage customers to purchase from you. Customers like easy-to-read information with large print, bullet points, and enough information to pique their interest. It should set you apart from other businesses that offer similar products or services.

Your UVP should attract the target customer by aligning a product with their specific needs. Define all the characteristics that make you different and better from your competitors. Customers have options. For your product or service to be the one they choose, they must be able to find out why you’re better.

Some good examples of value proposition templates

There are many value proposition templates for you to look at and decide which is the best for you. One of the simplest is Steve Blank’s template which simply states:

We help X do Y by doing Z.

Using this simple template allows you to capture all the necessary ingredients of a unique value proposition, making it as simple or complex as you like.

For example: Sparkly Waters Pool Service (We) helps California pool owners (X) keep their pools sparkly clean (Y) by using sustainably sourced, all-natural cleaning compounds without the use of harsh chemicals(Z). California pool owners who want to avoid chemical cleaners may investigate the website further.

The same template could be expanded even more: Sparkly Waters Pool Service provides bi-weekly pool cleaning to Los Angeles and the surrounding area, offering state-of-the-art equipment, sustainably sourced, chemical-free cleaning, and worry-free pool maintenance.

Another simple UVP template might be:

For [your target customer]who [statement of need or opportunity] our [product/service name] is [product category] that [statement of benefit].

Using the same example, your value proposition could be: California pool owners who are looking for chemical-free pool maintenance will love our Sparkly Waters sustainably sourced, all-natural pool cleaners that will keep your pool clean without the harsh chemical side effects.

You can see there are several ways to prepare a UVP. As long as your goal is to provide a value proposition that recaps who you are, what you do, and how you are different and better than your competitors, you will end up with a successful UVP.

How to write a great value proposition

There are five steps to achieving a great value proposition that will accomplish your goal of setting your product or service apart from your competition. You can follow these five steps regardless of the template you use, or even if you decide to create your own.

Step 1: Identify your customer's main problem

This is where you get to know your customer by finding out why they are looking for or using your product or service. What do they expect from your product, and why are they in the market to buy?

Using the pool cleaning example, maybe your customer just installed a pool. Maybe someone in the family has developed an allergy to the chemicals currently used to clean the pool. Identify the customer demographics and you will be better able to prepare a value proposition.

Step 2: Identify all the benefits your products offer

Now you have identified what your customer needs, the next step is to identify what your product offers.

In our pool-cleaning example, the product is chemical-free and sustainably sourced. By identifying your customer's problem in Step 1, you can better identify how your product meets their needs.

Step 3: Describe what makes these benefits valuable

The benefits of your product could be its availability, a lack of chemicals, or whatever benefits your customer needs. Without going overboard, include a certain level of detail to describe how these products or services will be beneficial to the customer.

Step 4: Connect this value to your buyer's problem

You’ve identified your customer and described your product along with its benefits. Connecting the value to your buyer's problem or need is essential to motivate them to purchase.

In the pool example, the client knows that the product meets their needs, but it is even more valuable because they can get bi-weekly maintenance specific to their area.

Step 5: Differentiate yourself as the preferred provider of this value

Are you the only provider of the service or product? Add how many years you’ve been providing the service, mention you’re the only distributor, or include other information that sets you apart.

Difference between value proposition, mission statement, and slogan

As we’ve seen, a value proposition is a statement that clearly describes your product or service in light of its distinct selling points and advantages over your competition to potential clients or customers.

  • Mission statements are your company or organization’s operational objectives. Mission statements tend to be goal-oriented, while UVPs are more product or service oriented.

  • Slogans, like the prior example of KFC’s "finger-lickin' good" are catchy phrases associated with a brand or product that are easy to remember but do little to describe a product or service to potential customers.

  • Taglines are short statements that focus on one aspect of your business. They focus on what your business stands for and don’t usually point out how a product or service is better than the competition.

Value proposition examples

LG: "State-of-the-art living experience"

If you’re in the market for a new appliance, LG's UVP may have piqued your interest. Their subheading, "LG SIGNATURE delivers an innovative product design that creates an exceptional living experience for people who want to achieve a state-of-the-art living experience" narrows down the product line and encourages potential customers to investigate their products.

Subaru: "The most adventurous, most reliable, safest, best Subaru Outback ever"

Prospective customers for Suburu Outbacks are looking for safety and adventure. The company have added the following subheading: "The 2022 Subaru Outback takes drivers to the most adventurous places in style with the most advanced safety technology."

With their UVP splashed across a photo of a couple of shiny Outbacks, target customers will be tempted to check out the details.

Spotify: "Listening is everything"

Since Spotify has diversified into premium or free services and customized listening, they can change their subheadings to describe the type of service they’re promoting.

Amazon

Jeff Bezos defines Amazon's three key value propositions as:

  • Low prices

  • Fast delivery

  • Large choice of products (and services)

Nike

Nike specifies four primary value propositions:

  • Accessibility

  • Innovation

  • Customization

  • Brand/status

FAQs

What is a value proposition canvas?

The value proposition canvas is a framework to help ensure a product or service is developed around what customers value and need. Use this tool when you map out your customer profile and the product side by side to see how they connect. Your product or service will meet the needs and expectations of your targeted customer.

How do you validate a value proposition?

You can validate and evaluate your unique value proposition by showing it to potential customers from your targeted market segment. You can gauge the success of your value proposition by their response.

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