Value propositions (or props) are the benefits a product or service is providing. They’re why someone should care about what you’re selling, and are most commonly used in ads and the copy on your site.
Sadly, they don’t get get as much love as they deserve. Value props are the essence of your marketing and sometimes businesses even leave them out completely from their ads.
I’ve seen marketing campaigns with sophisticated target audiences — with ads that basically say “Buy product X now. We have free shipping.” Then when results are poor, the solution is to find a better audience.
That’s a pretty extreme example, but it’s really common to not go wide or deep enough with value props. When you do it properly, though, you’ll see your marketing campaigns come to life, and your product pages convert better. The difference can — and will — be night and day.
As important as they are today, value props are becoming even more important in ads. Machine learning has taken huge leaps and audience targeting is increasingly automated. Facebook, for example, is already pretty good at finding buyers for your product, even if your audience targeting would be fairly broad. You can still save a good amount of time and money by manual tinkering, but soon your effort is better spent somewhere else: optimizing your copy and creative.
This means that being able to convince people why your product is worth buying is a skill that’s only increasing in value.
Here’s my 4 step strategy to find the best value props for anything.
1. Break Down the Product into Categories
Before digging for actual benefits, I always list all the categories the product I’m selling could excel in. This helps me go beyond my current view, and see the product from a wider range of perspectives.
Depending on what I’m selling, these categories might be (but are certainly not limited to) fit, usability, quality, feel, price, durability, appearance, and compatibility.
I’m consciously resisting the urge of dismissing categories, even if they’re seemingly not the strong points of the product. It’s a mistake I used to make often, which made me miss out on some hidden benefits.
2. List All Positive Features for Each Category
When my list is ready, I start listing positive features about my product under each category. Even moderately positive earns a spot on the list. I can always refine later.
It’s marketing 101 to use benefits, not features, in copywriting — but I’ll talk about that soon. First I want to go through every single positive feature to truly comprehend my product and to later understand which benefits the features can lead to.
Features are necessary stepping stones for me.
3. The Changemaker: Figure Out the Penultimate Benefits
Customers buy products to make them happier. That’s their ultimate goal. This is true to whatever they’re buying, be it something cool like new clothing, or boring like a replacement part to a broken juicer.
Features and low level benefits work as kind of proxies, but happiness is the true, subconscious, goal. Nobody buys a jacket, ultimately, just to look cool or to stay warm. These are not the end goals. It’s happiness they’re going for.
It’s our job as marketers and entrepreneurs to communicate the benefits that are directly contributing to happiness. That’s what people are trying to figure out before buying anything. Helping them get there has a huge impact on sales.
We can’t, however, take a shortcut and simply state that this product will make you happier. It’s an overly bold claim that lacks credibility. Besides, it’s always best when people arrive to the conclusion themselves. Go deep, but stop at the last benefit before happiness.
Example — Winter Coat
- Feature: Goose down
- Low level benefit: Keeps you warm
- Penultimate benefit #1: Doesn’t let cold weather mess up your skiing trip.
- Penultimate benefit #2: Let’s you finish that awesome snow castle in one sitting. (for parents)
- Penultimate benefit #3: You know that feeling when a simple 20 minute walk solves all your problems? Don’t let January take that away from you.
You get the gist.
4. Match the Benefits to Buyer Personas
When the list of penultimate benefits is ready, I shift my thinking to my customers. Point by point I think about who cares most about each particular benefit.
Extra challenges (even if they’d be fun) or marginal savings aren’t probably interesting enough for well earning and busy CEOs. On the other hand, people with lots of time and energy on their hands could even be turned off by something with an easy learning curve.
The goal is to know what to communicate to whom, and once all the benefits have a type of buyer described, I know that.
Now I just need to formulate my copy to be clear and concise, and run ads to the right kind of people. Data will then tell me which matches seem most promising, which I can start refining by perfecting my copy, trying new creatives, and tweaking the audience.
That’s it. A simple but effective strategy for value props that convert.
If you feel like you haven’t properly dug into what you’re selling, or aren’t communicating that well enough, I promise you doing this will help significantly.
I’d love to hear your success stories afterwards! Come back and comment, or send me a tweet or email. Good luck!