What are some ways to get to a clear value proposition in messaging my product to end users?

For content, I've listen closely to my users and two things make this challenging: 1) different users get different value out of my single product and 2) there is a large psychological underpinning to some of these value props, but it's awkward to make them explicit in a message to our end user. Eg. No one wants to say they purchased a network when they went to the finest business school, but that's also true.


The first part if focus. Is there one user set that you are ideally suited for -- solve their needs and build your value prop around that. Many times, companies want to serve everyone so they end up with a watered down value prop that end up appealing to no one. Ironically, a strong value prop works better even with the audiences it isn't intended. for. Take the Nisson Xterra from a product standpoint. It was marketed to be peope with an active, outdoor lifestyle. Nisson targeted the person who might strap on a surfboard and drive onto the beach. Now, most users end up not using it that way. But, because they built the brand and value prop around the active user, they establish a strong car brand that attracted a larger audience.

That said, people often misunderstand branding to mean that you have to always only be that one thing to that one audience, which is not true. Start with that simple value prop, and then develop more detailed communication.

The value prop itself should be able to be conveyed in a brief sentence. It should be true to who you are and what your organization delivers. And it should be differentiated from your other available options.

And, great if it is a psychological benefit! Nike's "Just Do It" is one of the great examples of a modern value prop. IBM had the informal, "no one ever got fired for buying IBM" -- a safety benefit for the risk averse. Find what you do really well that appeals to your core client base, then do that even better.

Hope this helps!

Answered 6 years ago

"I've listened closely to my users" - This tells me you are off to a great start. You have talked to your users and understand how your product solves their pain. It is normal that your users get different value from your product. This means that you have multiple customer segments that you can sell to.
I would approach this, by identifying the different customer segments that your product serves. Eg: Let's assume your product is a reusable water bottle. It has the following main customer segments
1. Athletes
2. Students
3. People who drive extensively for work
Of course there are others, but let's start with these three main segments
The next step would be to identify the segment that you want to market to FIRST. You can identify this based on the following
1. size of the segment
2. Need in the segment (Is your product essential or a nice to have)
3. Paying potential of the segment (will you have to price competitively or will they pay a higher price for a better product)

There might be other criteria that might be specific to your industry that you want to consider in addition to these three.

Pick the segment that will be easy to penetrate and will give you a good ROI (either large segment size or higher paying power). Target your value prop to this segment. As your business grows you can add segments by modifying your message and/or product.

Having a psychological advantage is excellent. For Eg: if we were to use your example of a business school, the advantage of having a large network is that you will have greater and better job opportunities. So an example value prop of the business school is
"Education that delivers success" - You are addressing the product (education) and the psychological benefit (success).

I am happy to talk more if you need help with segmentation and targeting to your segment using both product and psychological attributes in your messaging.

Good luck with your venture!

Answered 6 years ago

Great product value propositions ALWAYS start with the customer problem being solved, specific benefits, and the ideal customer.

In a right-side-up world, you would have begun your product development using this same framework. What is the <core problem> my <target customer segment> is experiencing, and how do we <solve> it <better than anyone> else? If you've done that, then writing out a value prop is essentially putting words around what you've built.

If you didn't start that way, and now you're attempting to shoehorn a value prop back onto an already created product, then you'll need to unpack your product and discover the answers to the elements above. Start with what is the core problem we fixed? Who is our ideal market / customer? Etc.

Be VERY careful to: avoid buzzwords, avoid droning on and on, never list features, don't speak from your perspective, and be sure to use language your target audience would use.

Your value prop, in it's essence, should be similar to something your ideal customer would say about themselves. Ex: I feel like a spreadsheet superhero when I use Airtable! I hope my boss doesn't find out how easy this is. ;^P

Some great resources for figuring out your value prop messaging:

I've been a PM or founder for over two decades. If you want help with your value proposition, unpacking your product to reverse engineer one, or you're just starting out and want to get it right from day one then give me a call. I'm happy to help!

Answered 6 years ago

Most products have a general value proposition, with your example of the purchasing of a network, I would go with a value proposition of we make networking easier or more effective something like that. So my example would be something like, "We make it easier for entry-level business people to network with the top CEO in their industry." Now from there, you can build off various use cases to curtail it in sales situation behind your new prospects context. Essentially while everyone may want to have that network everyone's approach to having that network or need of that network will be different. So you would curtail your value proposition to the individual you are selling to needs.

I hope this is useful information if you need more help reach out to me, I'd love to help you!

Answered 6 years ago

Customers will inevitably perceive different product values. However, if you listen carefully, you will discover a unifying pain point your product addresses. You differentiator is how well your product solves a pain point more satisfactorily than your competitors. One of my areas of experience is communicatung the value proposition [check my profile]. Let's hone this together.

Answered 6 years ago

Hi - Lots of great insight below, but wanted to offer another thought. No doubt you created this product because you identified a need in the market for your product/service - it might be helpful to think about how your product creates value at the very lowest level, and for whom. I'm assuming you've already looked at this to get a feel for the size of your market and opportunity, but it might be helpful to revisit. A quick thought on your second point - your example is true, but think about how the finest business schools communicate their value propositions. I haven't seen any ads that say "For a small $150k investment, you'll gain access to our network" - they talk about the value they create in several different ways, a network being just one of them.

Ultimately, if you have a product that's creating value in different ways for different people - that's a great problem. Find a way to talk about how your product has created value for several groups of people, in different ways. This is a very different example, but I was in chemicals before and all our customers used our products differently - one was making solvents, another making coatings and another may have been repacking and selling that same molecule to another customer. Our value proposition was reliability, consistency, customer service, etc - maybe that doesn't apply here, but thought it may be helpful to share that example to encourage you to think about another layer of value you provide to your chain of customers.

Answered 6 years ago

These are my tips for getting clear on your value proposition:

Firstly, each product or service you launch should have its own value proposition.

Depending on the market you are serving, you alter your value proposition accordingly. You don't just have to serve one market.

E.g. you may have a service that can cater to various markets but you niche at marketing level & create a separate value proposition for each market.

So, If I'm a fitness trainer who helps people loose 10kgs in 30 days & I know many types of audiences could benefit from my service. All I have to do is create a separate value proposition for each market I want to target.

So If I want to market to busy professional mums, my value proposition should specifically speak to their desired end result.

If I then want to market the same service to post natal mums, I can do that by crafting a separate value proposition to target them.

The key is this: You need to articulate your offer/value proposition in a way that speaks to your audience's (have a very specific person in mind) desired end result.

So to come up with a value proposition that speaks to your market's desired end result, I recommend doing this exercise which I call "End in mind".

All you have to do is picture your ideal customer's (clearly define who he/she is) CURRENT scenario/condition/problems, how do they feel in the present time with the problems they are facing etc

Then you define from their current state, where would they LIKE TO BE. What would make them happy? What can take away their worries and make them problem free? How would they feel if they were to have this solution? Would their average day be any different from their current state?

Then you also define, what is stopping them from achieving their reality? From solving their problem? From getting to where they'd like to go? Is it something they'd like to avoid? Something they'd rather not do on this journey of going from the NOW state to the AFTER state? List it all down.

Using the data collected/brainstormed above, come up with phrases that differentiates you from your competitors.

E.g. A landscaping service provider's value proposition could be, " We give you your Saturdays back."

But if you are not the first to the market with that proposition & too many competitors are already using it then you have to elaborate on that proposition to make it yours.

E.g.: A chiropractor I once worked with to help come up with his value proposition went something like this: "We work with adventurous, risk-taking enthusiasts to help them achieve a pain-free reality in 60 days or less WITHOUT giving up your favourite activities, resorting to unnecessary pill popping or walking around like a zombie, using our proprietary Rapid Whiplash Relief Method."

The above value proposition clearly defines the audience, their desired end result, even duration, taking care of their limiting beliefs and finally differentiating by defining a method associated with them only.

You see, the job of any business is to move their customer from their CURRENT/NOW state to an AFTER state. That is all. No matter what your business is about.

So what you need to do is answer this question for yourself that how does your product/service moves someone from their 'current' state to the 'after' state?

Once you can clearly articulate that shift, your value proposition will become much clearer to you.

If you'd like to bounce around some ideas, and further dial this in, please feel free to set up a call with me.

Talk to you soon,

Answered 5 years ago

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