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Defining a Unique Value Proposition (UVP) is one of the most difficult tasks an entrepreneur faces.
In fact, I recently read an article that made the case that figuring out your unique value proposition is “bad for business”: “Don’t spend any more time worrying about what makes you different, just get going with it!”
…and the crowd went wild!
Readers loved the message because they were given permission to let go of all the traditional marketing advice telling them they NEED! To define! What makes you unique! OR ELSE!
And I know why:
Because for most people, this is really hard — we think we’re being asked to define what makes us different from everybody else in the world. No pressure!
But here’s the thing:
It really isn’t that hard. You just need to know how to answer the question.
You don’t need to be a unicorn
“What makes you unique and valuable” requires some research and soul-searching, that’s true. But you don’t need to figure out what makes you a zebra-striped unicorn that smells like marshmallows — something that’s never existed before in all of history.
You just have to be different in the mind of the customer, and they’re not comparing you to every other option in the world — more likely, just 3 or 4.
If you were to line up your top 3 competitors, how is the experience working with you different?
Here’s the simplest value proposition you can create, just fill in the blank:
“I’m the one that______.”
Start by focusing on your strengths
If you don’t know what your strengths are, ask your customers. I recommend sending out a customer feedback survey and looking through testimonials, reviews and email correspondence (lots of feedback gold happens when projects are just wrapping up) and looking for patterns. How do customers feel about you? What do they say over and over again?
If you don’t have customers yet, ask past co-workers, colleagues and friends what they think your strengths are.
Ask yourself this one powerful question:
“Would I hire myself?” Heck yeah, you would. And why? Write that down. Why would you hire yourself instead of your main competitor? What do you bring to the table that makes it better or different? Why would you trust yourself with your own business?
If you’re not clear about your brand story and points of difference, I recommend working through the exercises in The Brand Story Blueprint. You’ll learn what your customers need and how to create brand statements that are clear, relevant, and memorable.
Why you must figure out your value proposition
Here’s the deal:
Your unique value proposition is the single most important piece of content on your website. You should have one on your home page above the fold and on every important landing page too.
Because your customers will consider several other options before making a decision, and they have an insane number of choices that all look very, very similar. The businesses that DON’T look similar will get their attention.
You simply must articulate why you’re different and you can’t do it in a meandering way, you have to be quick, clear, and right to the point. This gives your dream customers the reason to read on.
On the web, you have mere seconds to articulate who you are, how you can make your prospective customers’ lives easier, and how you’re the one to do it better than the other options they’re considering.
Bottom line, articulating your unique value proposition will help increase your chance of converting site visitors into customers.
How to Create Your Unique Value Proposition
In the simplest terms, your UVP tells your site visitors: “Cool! This is for me and it’s exactly what I need.”
With my clients, I recommend starting with a formula. No need to recreate the wheel — following formulas that work is a great way to get out of your head and get something on paper.
Here’s one you can use for creating a client-winning unique value proposition:
WRITE AN ATTENTION-GRABBING HEADLINE
You’ll mention the end-benefit, your customer and/or service.
The [adjective] way to [do something] for [benefit/outcome]
We help X do Y by Z.
[Dream customer] [statement of problem], [statement of your solution/outcome]
WRITE A 2-3 SENTENCE PARAGRAPH
Describe what you do, for whom, how it benefits them, and why it’s an experience that’s different from your competition.
CREATE A FEW BULLET POINTS (OPTIONAL)
List the key features and benefits of your service.
Ideally, you’ll also want to include a photo–of you or your product.
And here’s my best advice about it: Just get started. Don’t aim for perfection.
Aim to articulate your unique value as best you can for today and let it evolve. It doesn’t have to be set in stone. You can fine-tune your unique value proposition as you come to understand yourself and your business better. Your positioning may change over time, and you might even test different approaches to see what works best.
Taughnee Stone is an award-winning designer, brand strategist, and location-independent business owner for over 15 years. Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, she now lives in Croatia with her husband, energetic Samoyed, and three bossy cats.